Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SAGADA : NO SUNSHINE AT KILTEPAN PEAK

After arriving at Residential Lodge late afternoon on April 16, 2014, we took a quick brunch at Yoghurt House, went to SAGGA's to check tours and tour guide rates, but unfortunately we find them so expensive so we went out check out some souvenir shops and from there we meet Kuya Mark, our ever reliable guide for the entire day. After planning the next day activity in Kiltepan and Cave Connection we stroll around Sagada proper and went back to our Inn had dinner and we slept early so we could wake up and catch the famous Kiltepan Sunrise in Sagada. 

Kiltepan Peak is 45mins away from the main town of Sagada by walking and would only took 20 minutes if you have a vehicle.

We  woke up at 4:00 am and I felt nothing but excitement. Finally I will encounter the famous Kiltepan Sunrise. On the peak you can see the sun rising over the opposing mountain to the east and a sea of clouds in between the opposing mountain.

It was really cold... The road is still misty. And you can't barely see anything but fogs everywhere.
Dark and Foggy at Kiltepan Peak


After a few kilometers ride from the town proper we arrive in Kiltepan Peak. There are already few groups in the area waiting for the sunrise. We go straight to the cafeteria and had our morning coffee. It was freaking cold glad there was a bonfire set up in the grounds and so while waiting for the sunrise we went closer to the bonfire to get warmth. 
Mist and Bonfire at Kiltepan Peak

Everyone waited… and waited… and waited for the fog to disappear and the sun to peek from the clouds and say hello to us. A midst the freezing climate we went further down the cliff for a better view of the sun.
Overlooking  Sea of Clouds

Foggy Horizon waiting for the SUN

Unfortunately "NO SUN" came out ... the fog was so thick that the Barangay's and Kiltepan rice terraces below the cliff could hardly be seen. It was supposedly a cinematic sunrise, and luck wasn't on our side that day, but we got to see this beautiful view. 



with our tour guide Kuya Mark you can reach him at +63947-475-2872
my travel buddies Bhem and Edz


I still had fun visiting Kiltepan...its was an icy experience for all of us ha!ha!. Until our next visit to Sagada hope  we  can witness its majestic sunrise.


Thank you for reading.


Xoxo,


Tine :)




Related blog entry SAGADA:



Monday, April 28, 2014

HOW TO GET TO SAGADA


There are no direct trips to Sagada from Manila, but here are multiple ways to get there by bus.



FIRST:

MANILA-BAGUIO-SAGADA ROUTE
  • Take a bus that bound to Baguio. Victory Liner has trips that leave for Baguio every hour and will take an estimated time of 6-7 hours. And fare is Php 450.00. It would be better to leave Manila or atleast arrive in Baguio early in the morning. Victory Liner has two biggest stations in Pasay (convenient for those in Pasay-Manila-Makati) and Cubao (convenient for those in Quezon City) You can call Victory Liner ticketing office for ticket inquires and reservations at (Pasay 02-833-5019 to 20) and (Cubao 02-727-4534) specially if its peak season from April-May of the month.
  • Once there, take a cab that would take you to Dangwa Bus Terminal bound for Sagada. Non air-conditioned bus GL transit depart daily from 6AM to 1PM daily. Travel time from Baguio to Sagada is approximately 6 to 7 hours and fare ride is Php 220.00. The roads going to Sagada from Baguio are pretty rough. Most of the roads are unpaved and travelers run the risk of landslides. And some road isn't even wide enough to accommodate two lanes.
Victory Liner Baguio

Dangwa Bus Terminal


SECOND:
MANILA-BANAUE-BONTOC-SAGADA
  • Take a bus bound for Banaue, Ifugao. Travel time is about 9 hours and fare is 450 pesos. Ohayami Transit is the only bus company that has direct trips to Banaue. Their located at Lacson Avenue, corner Fajardo St. Sampaloc Manila nearest landmark is University of Sto. Tomas. Contact number is (02) 5160501. You can email them at reservation@ohayamitrans.com or check out their website at www.ohayamitrans.com for more information.
  • From Banaue, catch Immanuel Bus line to Bontoc for Php100.00 near Bontoc Municipal Hall or take a van going to Sagada  for Php150.00. Travel time is 2 hours.
  • From Bontoc there are jeepneys going to Sagada for Php 45.00, travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour. May I suggest you try riding on the rooftop of the Jeepney. I find it scary at first... but it was fun and I managed to enjoy the beautiful view of Cordillera Mountain. 
Top Load Ride with my friends (Sagada-Bontoc route)

This is how Top Load ride looks like :)


THIRD
MANILA-BONTOC-SAGADA
  • You can take  Cable Tours bus that goes straight to Bontoc for 12 hours. Cable Tours is located at E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard near Trinity University and St. Luke's Hospital. Depart from Manila to Bontoc at 8:00PM. Contact numbers are 0929-819-4688 or 0927-265-3929. When you reach the place, find a jeepney that would take you to the town of Sagada.

What's the best ride going to Sagada?

As for me, I would recommend MANILA-BAGUIO-SAGADA, because I find it comforting. I must say the bus rides for me is comforting especially if your travelling at night. Manila to Baguio only took 6 hours bus ride and the roads going there is not that risky compared to other alternative routes. Plus you only have to transfer 2 times. 

If your planning to go Sagada, may I suggest that you stay for at least 3D/2N because there is no way an overnight stay in Sagada, as the round-trip travel time alone will take you an entire day.

Hope this help in planning your Sagada trip.

Thanks for reading.

All the best,






Thursday, April 24, 2014

Adventure in Sagada: Spelunking Lumiang and Sumaguing Cave Connection

On our second day at Sagada we decided to go to spelunking at the famous Lumiang and Sumaguing cave connection which is a very popular activity in Sagada. Our tour guide Kuya Mark waited us in-front of Lemon Pie House then we head straight to Lumiang Cave, a 30 minute walk from Sagada but since we had a car it only took as 15 minutes going there. On our way to Lumiang we passed by Dokiw Hanging Coffins viewpoint. In Sagada mostly mountains with this kind of rock formation has hanging coffins. Hanging coffins at Dokiw were not limited to those on Echo Valley. They are so rampant everywhere that we just have to have an eye to spot them in many tall rock formation as we stopped by.


At Dokiw pointing one Hanging Coffin on the rocks. 


Our spelunking tour will start at Lumiang and ends in Sumaguing Cave. While waiting for our guide to park our vehicle we saw this big hole and wonder what it is. Kuya Mark our guide told us that it was a graveyard and only pregnant women are allowed to be buried in that hole from before. When I took a closer look, I saw coffins on the ground.
As you could see there are coffins downstairs.

In every Tourist spots in Sagada there are local tourism official to check your entry. So make sure you always bring your environmental registration receipt where ever you go in Sagada.
My friend Edz, Me, Bhem and Kuya Mark our tour guide waiting for our O.R. check by local tourism official.

We continued to walk going to the entrance of Lumiang Cave. Our Spelunking Cave connection begins....
beautiful view near the entrance of Lumiang Cave. 

But wait...as we reach to the entrance of the cave I was surprised to find it out that Lumiang Cave is also a burial place of Igorot's from before. The cave entrance is surrounded by hanging coffins with hundred-year-old bones encased within. Honestly I was feeling creepy. Kuya Mark our guide was telling us story about those coffins. He said that each burial sights in Sagada has different kinds of deaths. This one in Lumiang cave are the remains of those who died in old age. Those who died in diseases are in different burial site. Infants are buried in their own homes because it was believed by there ancestors that the little ones still needs to be taken care of by their families. This coffins in Lumaing cave are 300-400 years old.
Entrance to Lumiang Cave 

Even if were allowed I won't bothered to get some. Yay!!! 

Behind me are piles of coffins on the wall of the cave. Look at my creepy face. Lol 

Along the path you'd walk along some opened coffins with some bones sticking out and some clothes of the dead. The coffins with gecko design means abundance and good-luck. Some coffins on the cliff where falling and you can see its remains on your way down to the cave. This piles of century-old coffins, carved out of timber guard the entrance of the Lumiang Cave. At first glance I thought the coffins looked like rocks, just as they seem to be naturally part of the cave, because green moss have conspicuously thriven the moist stuff. Obviously, the sizes of coffins are relatively small, because according to ancestral burial tradition, the dead were positioned inside the coffin just like a baby in a mother's womb. Though the sight is very unfamiliar and uncanny, I have the impression that this old tradition of the Sagada ancestors could simply reflect the intimate spiritual understanding and prime respect to God and nature. Sagada natives don't practice the tradition anymore instead they now follow the modern way of burying the dead. This is now part of a historical or cultural site in Sagada and one of the most visited areas in town.
Gecko Coffin

These hanging coffins were made of carved-woods. 

Before our spelunking begin Kuya Mark briefed us on what to expect inside the cave, the things that are expected from us to do, and taught us some skills for our safety. Sagada's cave connection tour is definitely isn't for the fainted hearted adventurer, because you need to be relatively fit and unafraid of being trapped miles underground in confined spaces wading through water which at times reaches as high as your chest, or might be beaten by a snake. It's too dark and the hole entrance going to the cave are very small. When I saw how small the way going down the cave I was doubtful If I would fit on it, because holes were very very small. I remember our guide Kuya Mark told us that the reason Igorot's fit on that whole, because they are very small. So my friend and I were telling ourselves we are Igorot too, just to keep us motivated ha!ha!ha!. Plus we get to see a 10 year-old kid spelunking on the cave so that made us motivated even more.
Our Tour Guide Kuya Mark fixing the lamp to guide our way down the cave.



Our guide Kuya Mark squeezing through a tight hole.

You really have to be focused on where you're stepping, crawling and holding because one slip and it could mean a fall to the waiting jagged rocks.
I was having hard time climbing up and this position is so wrong, please don't follow. The one my friend did is right. Safety first! :)


Our guide showing us how to climb up using this rope. The 10 year old kid and me crawling.

This activity may be fun but it can be a little risky too. You really need to be extra careful, obey your tour guides, trust them feel free to ask if you're not sure what to do. And most of all don't forget to ask guidance and protection from the Lord. And if you can't reach some foot landings, ask for your guides to assist you. After an hour of rock-climbing, and sliding we finally reach Sumaguing cave, where all limestone rock formation and icy pools can be found.
Sliding down limestone.

Left: Stalactite Rock Formation. Right: Flying "Shokoy" or Merfolk.

Behind me is a big Broccoli Vegetable Rock formation. 

Frog Rock Formation

On our way down to see more amazing rock formation.

Indoor Pool. The water is icy but so clear, it provides us an excellent opportunity to cool off :)

More indoor pool inside the cave. Feeling mermaid kami :)

Behind me is a Turtle Rock Formation.

Chocolate Marble Cake rock formation. 




Kings Curtain

Giant Pincers! 

Did you know that Sumaguing Cave is also known as the Porn Cave? Yup! You read it right, I have no idea it was known as Porn Cave as well until our tour guide show us the amazing rock formation that explains why. The rock formations inside is a resemblance of some private parts of humans. hehehe. Kuya Mark our guide has a good sense of humor in presenting all the rock formations that made us had a good time exploring the caves.

Before you scroll down, LET YOUR IMAGINATION WORK HERE. READY?

PRESENTING THE PORN CAVE!!! =)

PENIS

behind me is a Pregnant Women or the Queen rock formation

The King. German size as per our guide. LOL

The Prince

The Princess

The entire Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection spelunking took us almost three hours to complete. We finally see the daylight signalling us to the caves exit. If your spelunking the cave connection, it usually start in Lumiang cave and exit through Sumaguing Cave. It was a great spelunking experience for all of us. It was our first time, feeling relieved, exhilarated and exhausted, we survived our underground adventure in Sagada.
I can see finally see the caves exit.

For some people who successfully conquered the Cave Connection would normally tell you its difficult. But as for me, I would rather call it challenging. Because some parts of the cave are manageable, but there were really some parts that required much caution, especially in Lumiang Cave, were in you have to climb rocks, go through very small holes, swimming in ice-cold water, going up and down via ropes, sliding down limestones, and soaking wet with shaking muscles. But nevertheless to say, we had an amazing experience and we absolutely loved it. And I would definitely recommend Sagada's Cave Connection to you, just make sure your ready to experience the fun, exciting yet deadly adventure of your life.
I survived Lumiang and Sumaguing Cave Connection.

Here are my five personal tips in your Cave Connection adventure.

1.) Wear shorts or leggings.

2.) Wear your slippers. No wearing of rubber shoes. Because most of the time you have to walk barefoot in this adventure.

3.) Put your important things like camera's, cellphone, wallet, etc. in a zip-lock or plastic to avoid getting it wet.

4.) Bring extra pair of t-shirt because you'll definitely get wet and so cold once you get out from the caves.

5.) Bring small bottle of drinking water or mineral water. Don't bring big bottle because it would be heavy for you to carry.

Thanks for reading.

All the best,
Tine ♥


My Spelunking Lumiang and Sumaguing Cave Connection in Sagada was featured in GMA, News as Youscooper ng Bayan for Summer Gimmick of Filipino.


TV Features : 

UNANG BALITA, GMA NEWS.
Unang Balita is the news segment of GMA Network's daily morning program, Unang Hirit. It's anchored by Rhea Santos and Arnold Clavio, and airs on GMA-7 Mondays to Fridays at 5:15 AM (PHL Time). 


NEWS TO GO, GMA NEWS.

News to Go is the daily morning newscast of GMA News TV, anchored by Howie Severino and Kara David. It airs Mondays to Fridays at 9:00 AM (PHL Time) on GMA News TV Channel 11.


BALITANGHALI, GMA NEWS

Balitanghali is the daily noontime newscast of GMA News TV anchored by Raffy Tima and Pia Arcangel. It airs Mondays to Fridays at 11:30 AM (PHL Time).


Other related blog article about Sagada:

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."- Walt Disney




Before you go: please share this blog on FacebookRT on Twitter. Follow me on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter. Subscribe to receive email updates. Thank you for your support!

Monday, April 21, 2014

SAGADA MOUNTAIN PROVINCE A DREAM COME TRUE

In the midst of the Cordillera Mountains in Mountain Province in the Philippines, there lays a small enchanting town called Sagada, it has always been one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines. Sagada is famous for being an ecotourism destination with its network of underground river systems and caves, pristine waterfalls, and picturesque views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Sagada is also one of the areas in the country known for coffee production, particularly for Arabica coffee and civet coffee, one of the rarest brews in the world. The town of Sagada has been the perfect destination for local and foreign backpackers looking for a quiet getaway from the busy metropolis. After countless of planning to visit Sagada I finally made it with my friends last April 16-18, 2014, we left Manila on the 15th of April midnight and arrived in Baguio on the 16th of April around 6:00am.

Baguio Victory Liner Terminal
We head straight to the bus terminal in Baguio that plies the Sagada route is at Dangwa Terminal which is about 10 minutes cab from Victory Liner Terminal, just inform the cab driver that you’re going to Sagada. Non air-conditioned buses Lizardo or GL Transit depart daily from 6AM to 1PM. We catch up the GL Transit 7:48am bus ride going to Sagada. Travel time from Baguio to Sagada is approximately 6 to 7 hours and we paid Php 220.00 for the fare ride. (Note fare may change without prior notice). Our drop off point is at Sagada Municipal Hall.
GL Transit Going to Sagada at Dangwa Terminal
Dangwa Terminal in Baguio City

Since it was a backpacker’s trip with my friends, we decided not to book a place to stay in Sagada while we were in Manila, because we wanted it to be more adventure and upon reading some blogs it is way cheaper to book there than book it in advance. The first Lodge we check out is the Residential Lodge I’d been reading good reviews about the place and the owner. I was hoping they still have vacancy because it was peak season and bingo; they have one room left good for 3 people with 2 bed and a bathroom with bathtub and heater inside the room at Php 250.00 per head. Very cheap hey! Finally I had the chance to meet the owner Mary Doas or Tita Mary to tourists visiting Sagada and stayed at her lodge, but we called her Mother or Mommy Mary. Her pension house is one of the famous inns in Sagada because of its homey atmosphere and the genuine hospitality that she effortlessly gives to her guests.

Residential Lodge is the Blue Building

I didn't know she was that kind until I stayed at her lodge, although it was hinted in the way she deal with guests inquiring about her pension house and upon reading some blogs about her. She help us find another place to stay since the availability of the room we rented is good for 2 days and we extended for another 1 day due to no buses travelling on Good Friday going back to Baguio. But unfortunately all rooms are book by group of tourist so we don't have a choice but to transfer. She made sure there's nothing for us to worry about, and finally she told us that we can still stay for another 1 night at her lodge because one booking got cancelled.
Late night talk with my friend Bhem Israel, Mommy Mary, and me.

After settling our things at Residential Lodge, we stayed for a few minutes to rest, change our clothes and soon head-out to eat lunch. We check out the famous Yoghurt House of Sagada since its few steps away from Residential Lodge. Yoghurt House is one of the go-to eating places in Sagada. I've heard from other other people who already went to Sagada that their homemade yoghurt were just the best in town.Yes it was! I ordered a full course meal, Roasted Pork, Vegetable Salad with Brown Rice. And for dessert the bestseller Banana Granola Strawberry Preserve. Prices at Yoghurt House ranges to Php 80.00 to 260.00 a little pricey hey! Well i understand why their food is pricey. Because Sagada is an exclusive mountain village very far from Manila and the price of commodity already hiked. We choose to eat on the upper floor where there is an available veranda overlooking the town.

Yoghurt House Sagada
Yoghurt House Roasted Pork, Vegetable Salad with Brown Rice (Php200.00)
Yoghurt House Banana Granola Strawberry Preserve. (Php100.00)
Yoghurt House 2nd floor and the view from the veranda.


Yoghurt House Menu


After eating at Yoghurt House we went to SAGGAS or Sagada Genuine Guide's Association Inc. Where you can ask for a tour guide and tour activities for the day. Prices at Saggas depends on which tourist spots you would want to go. For Kiltepan Sunrise tour guide cost Php 400.00 and if you want to hire a van/car its another Php 500.00. Too expensive especially if your a small group. My friend and I were able to get a guide outside Saggas. His knows everything about Sagada, very patient (he end-up to be my photographer), and most of all he did not take advantage on us. His price is just right especially for small groups and backpackers like us. We hike Kiltepan Peak with him as our tour guide at Php 500.0 with a transportation. He took good care with us, especially on our spelunking at Lumiang and Sumaging cave connection. His name is Kuya Mark and you can reach him at 0947-475-2782. Just tell him you were referred by me.
Outside Saggas Office and the Maps of Sagada's Tourist Spots.

Since it was too late for us to go hiking and spelunking that day, we end-up exploring Sagada's town proper. We went to Saint Joseph Resthouse boasts to its strategic location within the heart of the famed, beautiful and peaceful town of Sagada. The place, amidst the towering pine trees has a commanding view of the rice terraces and villages surrounding the town. Saint Joseph Resthouse is managed and operated by Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines; Philippine Episcopal Church. So many beautiful flowers in the garden and we enjoyed taking pictures on that place.
Saint Joseph Resthous
Saint Joseph Resthouse

Saint Joseph Resthouse
Next we went down and take a walk at the Angelican Church of St. Mary the Virgin. It is the oldest church in the Cordillera region. Located at the Episcopalian Mission Compound, it was consecrated on December 8, 1921. You can see the mixture of foreign and indigenous design. Behind the Church's compound is the St. Mary's Highschool and Sagada's zipline.
The SMV Parish Center
The Church
The Parish Wheel
Me and my friend Bhem taking a walk at the area.


St. Mary Highschool's soccer field

Walking is a fun thing to do in Sagada, while we walk around the Town we were mesmerized by the natural beauty all around us. It is not even tiresome for the cold climate that keep us moving. After our stroll at the Town of Sagada we head back to our inn and check out Strawberry Cafe for dinner, a small restaurant at the back of Residential Lodge and call it a day. Saves our energy for the next day tour at Kiltepan Peak and spelunking at Lumiang and Sumaging cave connection.

Thank you for reading. :)