Sagada is a cool, quiet and serene Philippine mountain region that travelers in Luzon can experience for a few days. Its elevation is twice as high as Tagaytay and roughly the same as that of Baguio at one and a half kilometers above sea level more or less. My wife and her friends went there a few years back and here's what they did.
The night before Labor Day, they started the 6-hour commute from Manila to Baguio and another 6-hour commute to Sagada. Even though they took a non-aircon bus from Baguio to Sagada, the cool fresh air was enough to keep them comfy.
Upon arrival, they checked in to Sagada Guest House (reserved a week in advance), rested for a while, took a nice bath and ate lunch happily at the first restaurant they found. What can be more closer that the cafeteria right inside Sagada Guest House.
Day one, May 1, was planned to be a light day of strolling around the town center of Sagada. The long commute drained a lot of energy and a light first day can help recharge the mind and body for the bigger and more challenging day two.
The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
The most photographed church bell of Sagada stamped A.D. 1921.
This wheel was placed on Sagada on October 11, 2001 as a centennial marker for 100 years of mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. The wheel was previously part of a sawmill brought by the United States to Sagada. When the mill stopped operating, the wheel was discarded and left lying on the ground for almost a century. It found its second life in showbiz as a famous Sagada landmark as pictured above.
A few minutes walk from the church is Sagada cemetery. Panag-Apoy ritual takes place in this cemetery every 1st of November where instead of lighting candles near the graves, they burn pinewood previously blessed in the church.
Gazing out to the hanging coffins on Sagada
What to do in Echo Valley. Take a good guess.
The second day started early. By 8:00 AM they already had breakfast, asked the front desk for help finding a jeep to rent for the whole day, took the private jeepney ride and got off the starting point of their morning trek downhill.
The trek down took almost one and a half hours.
With views like this. A beautiful but unknown waterfalls to me.
Let me call it wiwi falls.
... and clearing away gigantic boulders along the way...
... to have an hour dip in its cool waters.
The trek back up took a bit longer with gravity holding them back.
But it's time well spent for the healthy heart and enormous eye-candy such as this.
Their visit to Sagada was in good timing as it coincided with the celebration of Barangay Poblacion's first ever Fiesta (May 2, 2008). The celebration started with a parade then a thanksgiving mass in the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
Two pieces of etag hanging between native hand-woven backpacks. Etag is a native delicacy of smoked or dried pork meat.
After lunch, they drove to Sumaguing Cave.
It's a dark, wet place illuminated only by lanterns and camera flash as you take photos.
It's cold and mist such as this get's captured easily in pictures.
A Kodak moment.
By the way, Kodak already filed for bankruptcy. But their tag line remains.
It took three full wet hours for them to go down the cave and back up. Tiring but a really memorable experience with what my wife commented she did once this time but most likely never again :)
Dinner took them back to the same place...
... Yoghurt House.
After dinner, past 9:00 PM, the first ever fiesta celebration still continued with the night shift dancers taking the place of the day shift dancers. My wife can't sleep because even at 3:00 AM they were not finished. Understandable though as this is their first fiesta.
The next day was time to go home. A parting shot of not the typical rice terraces, but of vegetable terraces.