Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sequel To A Wonderland Called Sagada

This  blog is a continuation of my Sagada trip six years ago, when Sagada was still naive and pastoral. Last year, I spent my Christmas holidays in Sagada and it was not the same like it was, the town was chaotic, private vehicles were queued on the streets, commercial establishments sprouted like mushrooms and everybody were rushing for unknown reasons or maybe due to the ongoing festival during that time. With this scenario, it was a good thing we opted to stay away from the town proper and instead booked in a house in a secluded part of the Sagada, it is a long walk from the town proper but it is more comfortable and peaceful.

It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived in Sagada and it was good to feel the cold breeze and fresh Sagada air again, and to see those lovely and colorful flowers together with the serenity of the place. We were so hungry due to tiredness and boredom from the whole day travel. So we filled ourselves with comfort foods in a nearby restaurant, which makes home cooked Italian dishes. Ristorante Biag serves Italian dishes cooked by a native Sagada housewife who cooks delicious pasta dishes, salads and pizza for a reasonable price and wow it would fill all your cravings. I swear.

The hearty dinner ended with a hot cup of coffee with that sweet sugar candy on the side, I never had that candy since I was a kid! And it was kind of special to me. We just planned our tour (we don't usually do itineraries) the next day and went to the tourism office to register and referred the tour guides for their suggestions as to where we'll go.

We planned to go to some of the interesting places we haven't gone during our previous stay. And our first plan was to go to Pongas Falls in Ankileng, Sagada. Ankileng is located in the southern part of Sagada, the little village is becoming a haven for nature lovers. Pongas Falls is one of the main tourist attraction which can be enjoyed in the said village. A hanging bridge stands after passing through the village providing a passage through a stream and a wide extent of the sunflowers, tomato farms, and rice farms.

The sun was scorching on that day but the cool breeze still dominates in the atmosphere thus giving us a relief while trekking along the trails of the rice terraces.

It is a 45-minute hike from the village proper to Pongas falls so it is just proper to wear comfortable shoes, and bring lots of water and don't forget your cameras. Good thing the trail along the terraces are paved so I don't have to worry much about slipping or stumbling, I just had to keep in balance so I wont trip. Well there are many sharp curves along the way and so we have to be cautious. One more turn and there you go.

The Pongas twin falls. Well it is not actually twins because there are several waterfalls up in the forest but it is too high for me and I don't want to get wet. We stayed and admire the cold flowing water for a while and since it is going to be a long way back to the village proper we started to walk and eat lunch then prepare for our next destinations.

I filled my tummy with chicken curry and rice before we do the Mt. Langsayan-Danum traverse hike. Yipeeee we're going to trek again and this time we are going to the mossy forest of Mt. Langsayan. I still remember I was burping and kind of sleepy and tired and I missed my siesta. The cold winds which crosses between the moist tree trunks and ground of the forest was like pulling me under a tree and put me in a deep slumber. And do you know what? I find this mountain ridge so interesting because I found so many things that is new to my eyes and kept me in full alert! I found some species of wild flowers and fruits along the way, especially the mountain berries which kept me busy while walking, it's just like walking along a fruit stand, the only difference was you can pick it without paying!

It didn't take too long and we reached the summit! It was cold!  We reached the boundary of Besao, the nearby village in Sagada. And all that I can see was an endless vista of the mountain range in Abra and all the other mountains around which almost kisses the sky. Such a unique creation of God, magnificent!

Time to descend and go to Lake Danum to catch the sunset at the view deck, we must hurry up or I'll fail to see my first sunset in Sagada...and that would be frustrating. We missed Lake Danum during our first visit in Sagada, it was so regretful not to see it, because this lake has so many stories and legends. According to legends it was in this lake where the name "Sagada" was derived when a fisherman was asked by a Spaniard about the name of the place, that was mistakenly answered by a man named Biag who was the founder of Sagada. There are other myths and folklore told about the lake which I will still make a research on it. Someone told me that the lake turns purple during sunset, isn't that strange?

The promised orange sunset which almost everyone scampered up the hill,  just to get a good view of it was worth waiting for. The different cloud formations which transforms into different shapes entertained us all, and that reminded us all that we had a very beautiful day.

The next day was another fun-filled and tiring day. All were set for the  Bomod-ok Falls adventure. We knew that it will be a long descending walk again, the stairs going to the falls was very challenging for us. There are parts which are steep and so narrow, that we can't even move on ahead of the others or make it a two way street for other people who were going back. But anyway, that's the way it is so we have to deal with it. But the long walk was not boring at all when we passed by the picturesque Bangaan rice terraces.

The long tiring walk was rewarded by the sight of a strong and curtain-like Bomod-ok Falls also known as the the Big Falls, its cold mists and water can rejuvenate tired feet and aching muscles. We brought some food and picnicked within the boulders scattered around, they serve as shades but don't leave your trashes behind Mother Nature won't like that.

Time to ascend and catch up with the others, and I know it would be an excruciating one, I kept on thinking about the steep stairs which would be really exhausting, but our tour guide lead us to another trail which was not as hard as the previous one. Yipeee! The trail is heading to Aguid village and where our vehicle was waiting. I never thought that there will be another way out, that it even had a good view of the house and rice terraces this time in Aguid. How cool is that?

On our third day we don't have anything to do but to stay in the town proper and chill. It was nice to roam around Sagada that day, it was still cold but tolerable. We went food tripping, ate lemon pie, drank coffee, shop for souvenirs while waiting for the Bonfire Festival to start. It was probably about the festival which made the Sagada overcrowded that time, there will be fireworks and concert on the first day and cultural show on the second day of the festival but tourists chose to go to the cultural which we also did. It was a different experience for us to be educated about some cultures of Sagada. Coffee and tapuey (local wine) were overflowing and the good thing it was for free, so it was a joyful celebration! There were students who performed the courtship dance, which was also participated by the audience. Gongs and their native instruments played with so much enthusiasm that even us were convinced to dance! The bonfire lighted the event, it was glowing wildly as if dancing to the tune of the gongs as sign that the event was a success!

Oh well that ends my Sagada adventure and I hope this is not the last, but I'm not sure if I'm going back. I think no matter how urbanized Sagada will be in the future, Sagada will be Sagada, it will remain charming to me. The people, places, food and culture Sagada will forever be my wonderland.

By the way here is the link to my first blog about Sagada, in case you want to know more of the place. A Wonderland Called Sagada.

How to get to Sagada?
1. If you're coming from Manila, take a bus going to Baguio City in Benguet.
2. From Baguio City go to Dangwa terminal and take Lizardo Bus Lines going to Besao via Sagada or Bontoc. If you missed the bus going straight to Sagada take the Bontoc bound.
3. From Bontoc, take a jeepney going to Sagada, ask the locals where to find the jeepney terminal.
4. If you arrive in Sagada please go to the tourism center and register. Registration fee is 35 pesos only so please do so.

Thank you for reading!
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