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. :)

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