Sagada: A Twisted Journey To The Sky

There are a lot of write-ups, documentaries and videos describing a Sagada experience. But words can never explain exactly what a Sagada experience is all about - you simply have to SEE, TRY, and BELIEVE.

Sagada is around 12 hours drive from Manila, passing along winding roads and cliff sides. It is a remote town in Mountain Province with great spots which are not just mere places to see but an opportunity to know more of our cultural heritage.

Being a mountainous place, Sagada is blessed to have rock formations which are manifestations of nature's art. Sumaguing Cave is one of the best places in town. Also known as the Big Cave, it is a must-see spot which is ideal from beginner to advanced spelunkers. Sumaguing is the home of beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations making it a topnotch destination. Normal caving takes about, on the average, 2-3 hours which starts and ends at the Sumaguing Cave entrance itself. Extreme adventure seekers may opt to do the cave connection, the jump off point is the Lumiang Cave and will eventually exit at Sumaguing, the duration is around 4-5 hours. Lumiang Cave, also Small Cave, got its name from Lumiang meaning 'burial'. It is the sacred burial place where ancient wood coffins are stacked on top of each other. Along the way to Lumiang and Sumaguing caves, another traditional burial can be seen, the Hanging Coffins. During the olden days, natives believe that the higher the remains are laid, the closer they are to heaven, so they hang the coffins on cliff edges and mountains. It is a real surprise to see at what extent the tribes can do for dead bodies - climb mountains, rapel on cliffs, tie down the coffins and pile them up. Sagada is truly a place where death is even an adventure!

A walk to the Echo Valley gives a closer look at the hanging coffins and the most important thing to do -- shout out loud! -- and the rocks will surely shout back to you. Surrounding places near the Echo Valley are the cemetery where lies the World War veterans, the old Episcopal Church and a historic bell marking an American religious influence.

Aside from alps and boulders, Sagada also boast for their waters. Trekking through the ladder-like rice fields of Aguid, the finish line is a 200 feet column of water splashing down and forming a cold pool surrounded by large rocks. Bomod-ok Falls or the Big Falls, apart from being one of the tourist spots, also serves an important role in the irrigation system of the rice terraces. Another Sagada wonder is the Pongas Falls, found on the southern part and just like Bomod-ok, the trails are ricefields. Most travelers who have tried both Bomod-ok and Pongas say that comparing the two, Pongas adventure has an added extreme - a test of courage and endurance. Wonder why? I don't know yet - will find that out too on my next Sagada trip :)

To top an enchanted Sagada experience, a climb to Kiltepan Peak is a must. On this side of the town rises the sun in the midst of the foggy highlands of the east. It has a cinematic view of the sunrise overlooking the mountain ranges of cordilleras.

With its natural beauty, peaceful atmosphere, wondrous landscapes, cold breeze, delectable foods and welcoming people, every traveler is promised to a have remarkable Sagada experience with A TASTE OF HEAVEN ON EARTH.

Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak

Aguid Rice Terraces

Bomod-ok Falls

Palaui Island

On the verge of Northern Philippines is Cagayan where lies Palaui Island. It's ironic to think that it took me just now to visit the island when in fact I was born and raised in Isabela - one of the provinces in Cagayan Valley. From there it would only take about 4-6 hours to Santa Ana, the jump-off point to Palaui. But my adventure started in the metro, so I was on the road for around 13 hours (good thing the bus I rode was fast). Btw, I was with a travel buddy in this getaway. 

There are many ways of getting to Palaui, one of which is via Tuguegarao - we took this route. Manila to Tuguegarao is around 10-12 hours, from there another 2-3 hours land trip to Santa Ana, then about 10 minutes to San Vicente port, then the boat ride. -- looks like I'm not yet good in giving better refer to other blogs for detailed description :)

Cape Engaño - Reach the Top for a 'Jaw Drop'
As we battled the waves and winds in the middle of the sea, I let my eyes explore what surrounds the boat I'm in and found nothing but green and blue. As we moved closer and closer to the shore, the tip of the lighthouse came into my sight. I began to wonder is there something special up there aside from the ruins? Then as we trekked to the top I got answers to my question. The trail was indeed beautiful -- passing by a beach of corals and shells, climbing on small rocks, walking along a green grass, feeling the wind blow a little stronger as I get higher. And the moment I reached top, I had this 'jaw drop' experience -- first, the view of the sea and islands up there was really amazing; and second, I got tired of the trek of course. :)

Anguib Cove - The Sand for the Beach Bums
I felt relaxed and so peaceful while sitting on the sand, staring how the waves gently touch the coast. I can't find the right words to describe it's natural beauty, speechless...

Crocodile Island - Just Passing By
Also called Manidad, this island resembles a head of a crocodile if looking at another angle. Being not too high, this rock-formed island disappears on low tide. Unfortunately, we got no chance to anchor our boat :(

Palaui Waterfalls - The Secret Within