Tuesday, February 25, 2014

En Route Baguio – Passing Halsema Highway

It’s a Sunday and it’s my last day in Sagada. I woke up very early at 4 AM to to join the tour group which will be heading to Manila. I am very excited for new friends to meet and also to see the other side of the mountain. We drop by Kiltepan View Point again and the same drill i had coffee and tried roaming around. We waited for roughly 30 minutes hoping that the sun will come shining through and we will see the great sunrise.


After that frustrating wait for the sunrise we started traversing down Halsema Highway. The Halsema Highroad Point or the Philippine Pali is a natural attraction located inCattubo, Atok Benguet. Considered as the highest point in the country's Philippine highway system with an elevation of 7,400 feet above sea level. No road sign has ever summarized my emotions ever. I am in an ecstatic state. Nothing can spoil my happiness and my worries were left below sea level. It seems like the road was etched right at the heart of paradise.

The Sea of Clouds


The Vegetable Terraces


The Mountains

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Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad

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Having Lunch in the SideStreet of Baguio


Vegetarian Bulalo (lol)


This solo adventure to Sagada turned out to be one the most memorable roadtrip of my life. Sagada is greater than the steepness and the challenges that the Halsema Highway have presented. After all, reaching paradise is worth sacrificing for.

Eat Explore Experience Sagada – Explore Series (Spelunking at Sumaguing Cave)

There are lots activities in store for you if you come to Sagada and most of  them deals with walking, hiking and trekking.  Always secure a local guide/escort for a safe adventure.

After having lunch at Yoghurt House, we start prepping for our Spelunking activity at Sumaguing Cave.  We took the Short Course Caving as we start late in the afternoon. The estimated 1 1/2 hour of exploration turned out to be 3 hours. LOL

Sumaguing Cave is approximately 30 mins to an hour depending on how physically fast you are from the town center. While walking towards Sumaguing Cave, we pass by the view point of Hanging Coffins and Rice Terraces.

Hanging Coffin ViewPoint 

The Rice Terraces of Sagada
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When we reach the drop off point for Sumaguing Cave we showed our registration receipt and the lady told us not to lose it as we need it on every destination that we wanna go to.
Our Short Course Caving will start from the mouth of Sumaguing Cave and will be climbing back the same route once done. The cave has huge opening and chamber , there’s also a huge tunnel at the end part of wherein we have to wade through waist deep water or skip by passing another route.  From the entrance our guide gave us a briefing of the three divisions of the cave: Slippery Rocks, Bat Kingdom and Rock Formation.
Entrance of Sumaguing Cave
Proof that it’s indeed slippery inside the cave, I have to take off my slippers as I felt safe without them.
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After the slippery rocks, we passed by the bat kingdom but i wasnt able to take pictures. There were dripping bat dung along the way, well yeah it’s just part of the adventure. LOL The last part/section of the cave are the amazing rock formation where rappelling and boulder climbing is required.

The Awesome Rock Formation Inside the Cave

Rappelling Inside Sumaguing Cave


We survived the Sumaguing Cave exploration and it was such an amazing and memorable experience. Different from other Caving activities I have gone through. I guess one of the reasons why most of the shirt have “Survivor” theme. Indeed it’s rewarding and will take pride of saying, “I am a Sagada Survivor”. The feeling was indescribable the moment i saw these rock formations, finally stepping inside this cave and seeing them with my own two eyes is such an achievement. So don’t miss this Adventure when you find yourself in the ruggedly enchanting town of Sagada.

Where to Stay in Sagada

With the in flock of tourist visiting Sagada it’s better to make your reservation ahead of time. Here’s a list of Inns/Lodging/Rest houses you can choose from (as of February 2014).  Estimated rate is at Php 300.00/person


  • Alapo’s 0921 327 9055
  • Davey’s Town Inn & Resto 0907 211 7473
  • Ganduyan Inn 0921 273 8097
  • Green House 0946 460 7726
  • Isabelo’s Inn 0928 951 7153
  • Igorot Inn 0908 757 8357
  • Olabhinan Resthouse 0928 406 7647
  • Pumpkin House 0910 709 5275
  • Masferre Country Inn 0918 341 6164
  • Sagada Homestay Inn 0919 702 8380
  • Sagada Guesthouse 0921 969 4053
  • Villa D Familia 0918 959 4570
  • Sagada Green Hills 0917 553 5337
  • Saint Joseph’s Resthouse 0918 559 5934
  • Tinagtago Inn & Restaurant 0939 959 1967


  • Alfredo’s 0948 711 2112
  • Triple J Inn 0919 517 1802
  • RnR Heaven 0947 950 1138
  • Billy’s House 0921 603 2745
  • Churay-a 0999 998 7989
  • Ligaya’s Transient 0918 343 8415
  • Mapiya-aw Pension 0909 516 9221
  • Misty’s Lodge 0919 691 8487
  • Rocky Valley Inn 0918 403 6018
  • Rock Inn & CafĂ© 0929 457 7188
  • Sagada North Inn 0907 900 5203
  • Yabami Lodge 0949 747 2245
  • Gecko Inn 0920 289 5471


  • Alibama 0920 813 5797
  • Canaway 0910 709 2631
  • George Guesthouse 0918 548 0406
  • Indigenous Inn 0921 645 5679
  • Kanip-aw Pines View 0928 284 7507
  • Mary Hilz Inn 0919 408 0108
  • Bagalima River Inn 0947 704 6613
  • Residential Lodge 0919 672 8744
  • Treasure Rock Inn 0920 272 5881
  • Traveller’s Inn 0919 517 1833
  • Grandma’s Yellow House 0947 832 1985
  • Shamrock Tavern 0930 195 5680
  • Hidden Hill 0910 796 7073
  • Inn Maugay 0912 230 1240

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eat Explore Experience Sagada – A Trek to Pong-as Falls

There were 2 falls you can go to when your in Sagada: Pongas and Bomod-ok falls. Our guide Pas laid out the features of both falls and the time we need to trek including the trails along the way. So we then decided to just go to Pong as falls instead. 

Another memorable experience while going to Pong as Falls was when we finally get a chance to ride a jeep, this time topload. Wohooo! The road is winding and a bit scary. This isn't my first time to topload though but its still worth a try in Sagada. It's an enjoyable 20 minutes topload ride to the drop off point. 

Toploading in Sagada


It's roughly an hour trek from the drop off town and you will be rewarded with clear waterfalls.  Though this is a simple trek but i tell you its no joke as its a tiring one.  Aside from the amazing water falls passing by the rice plantation is also a scene you shouldn't miss. Seeing how the locals resisted the heat of the sun when planting those will make you feel grateful for every grain you have in your plate. Aside from that you need to be careful as well as the trail will lead you to walk on the edge of the mountain and climbing at almost 90 degree uphill. Going near the waterfalls itself poses a great deal of courage and strength as you will be passing through slippery and huge rocks. You need to climb it too to reach the basin a take a dip. Since its too cold and i don't really have any plans of swimming, i just enjoyed soaking my feet and taking pictures of the magnificent falls and its clear water.

The Hanging Bridge


Passing by Several Rice Fields


One Wrong Move and You’ll find yourself rolling down the mountain


What struck me while on our way back is when i saw kids carrying big boxes of goodies to their homes and they have to walk few miles in that situation under the heat of the sun. I felt so lucky that i shouldn't be doing those things but i can still enjoy drinking  sodas and eating my favorite chips.  


Even though the falls is smaller compare to Bomod-ok,who cares? It's the journey and the adventure that goes along with it that matters! For sure you'll enjoy it the same way i did when i reached the falls and experience the cold breeze. Another wonder carefully crafted by mother nature  for us to experience.

Eat Explore Experience Sagada – Part 1

The long and winding road leading to this place will be set aside once you step into this small yet tranquil town of Sagada.  That’s what I felt the moment I landed my feet. The thrilling ride, the temperate weather, the breathtaking view of the mountains, the sea of clouds and the hospitality of the locals makes this place a mountain paradise full of  adventure.

The thought of finally arriving in Sagada made me smile and I am proud that I did it all alone! Undoubtedly, the charm of this mountain has captured my heart making it one of The Blue Rider’s favorite destination, I considered the place a home away from home like most tourists do, local or foreigners.

This place have lots to offer, whether you came here just to relax and enjoy the breeze and scenes or more into adventures, you definitely have a place here.  With the variety of activities to choose from, places to see and foods to eat , Sagada is truly an adventure, nature and food haven. That’s what I came here for.

As soon as I stepped down from the Van, I looked for Ganduyan Inn, that’s where I made my reservation for this trip.  Good thing it’s conveniently located in the center of the town just across the Municipal Hall and Sagada Public Market. There are other Inns available, here's the List of Accomodations in Sagada. I hurriedly went to the Reception to check in and paid Php 600.00 for a room for 2 with private bathroom.  Sadly, when I was assisted to the one reserved for me, we had to walk few meters uphill. According to the caretaker, it’s newly built and the extension of the original Ganduyan Inn.   


Welcome to Ganduyan Inn


My room is located at the 3rd floor, it has a private bathroom with twin size bed.  I also have a private balcony. Just enough for me to spend a day or two. I just love the color of the curtains, blankets and the bathroom. Its BLUE!!!
My Room
The Bathroom

View from my Room’s Balcony

I need to rest and sleep for few hours before I start my Sagada walking tour but my tummy is already growling telling me it’s time to grab some lunch. On top of my list is Yoghurt House and so I walk downhill to look for it. By the way, be ready for endless walking here in Sagada as they don’t have any short distance vehicles except if you want to rent a bike which I won’t recommend. I’d rather walk than punish myself riding a bike uphill.

As I walk towards Yoghurt House I pass by the Municipal Tourist Information Center.  Tourist visiting the place is recommended to register. I paid Php 35.00 and this serves as my Passport here in Sagada. They also gave me a Map of Sagada for Free. This piece of paper contain all the information I need to know about the place, the Inn/Lodges/Guesthouses available with contact details. The tour packages available as well the standardized rate. Most of the sites can be reached with a great deal of walking and hiking, in short it’s physically challenging.

After registering i headed to my destination which is Yoghurt House. When I arrived there were many guests having their lunch and I thought I wont be able to find a seat but they pointed me to the second floor of the restaurant and I got a spot.  I got Pork in Bechamel Sauce (Php 220.00) and of course the specialty of the house: Yogurt (Php 140.00)

Pork in Bechamel Sauce

Mixed Fruits with Yogurt


Just got lucky, the two folks I met in Banaue came to Yoghurt House to have lunch as well and they offered me to go with them for Caving/Spelunking and the rest of activities for the entire day.  Of course, it’s a YES! The more the merrier and the cheaper! :)

Me and My New Found Buddy in Sagada


After having lunch we set the time that we will be meeting in SAGGAS (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) so we can start our first activity for the day: Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave

Eat Explore Experience Sagada - Part 2

Eat Explore Experience Sagada – Part 2

After the spelunking adventure in Sumaguing cave, a bit tired but overwhelmed with so much delight out of the new accomplishment, we walked back towards the town. On our way back, we're already deciding where to have dinner and the next set of activities. While the two went back to their Inn I also went my way back to Ganduyan to freshen up. I swear to the Goddess of The Mountains that was the chilliest bath I ever had. Brrrrr... After changing clothes I lie down and guess what’s next. I dozed off for an hour. Whoa!!!! I am so late for dinner. I checked my phone and have lots of messages from my adventure buddies. We had our dinner at Pinikpikan Restaurant and of course tried the famous and authentic dish of Cordillera mountains Pinikpikan. I don’t how to describe the taste hmmm but let me try my best: it's a chicken soup with veggies. Very tender and a bit salty. According to the folks in Sagada it's prepared by beating live chicken prior to cooking it. The beating bruises the chicken skin bringing out its blood that helped improved the flavor. The process of light beating or "pikpik" is where the dish derived its name from.

It is believed that Pinikpikan is merely a flavorful chicken dish. In reality its preparation is a ritual performed by Cordillera tribes to determine the appropriate courses of action and their fate. It takes hours of careful work to prepare an authentic Pinikpikan. 


So much of the food tasting done for the day. Exactly 9 in the evening we called it a day. Aside from being too tired, the town itself has curfew at 9pm so you don’t have a choice but to rest and sleep. 

Day 2 started very early, as early as 4 in the morning. Nyahahaha...oh come on! Waking up at 3 AM with freezing cold temperature is hellish. Bwahahaha but that's part of the adventure. Another challenging bath for me. Brrrrr.... At 430 in the morning I found myself walking in the quiet and cold town of Sagada heading towards the tourism center for our first adventure for the day. Sunrise Viewing at Kiltepan.  We hired a van to take us to Kiltepan, a hitch hiker again. Hehehe... It’s great if you have amiable attitude, you get to join group tours and share cost with them. This time, it's Faye and Company who contacted the Van and we just joined them. After roughly 30 minutes of wandering around the foggy way to Kiltepan we reach the viewing point. Fog here, there and everywhere. Good thing the lady who sells coffee already prepared a fireplace to give warmth to the tourist going up. She also has one of the best brewed coffee I ever tasted. We stayed in Kiltepan for more than an hour, patiently waiting for gleam of hope...but we failed. We never saw the sunrise so we had our Photo Ops instead and just enjoyed the cold temperature. FYI it’s freezing at 8 degrees today. No wonder why my bones were almost breaking down. 


After the Kiltepan View we had breakfast at Sagada Market RJays Eatery: noodle soup. Simple yet appropriate for melting our frozen souls up there. We then went separate ways to change outfit for trekking. This time we will be conquering the Pong as Falls. 

We were so tired when we got back from the trekking adventure in Pongas Falls so we stopped by the nearest store to grab something to eat and drink. Well, we don't have any service van to take us back so we leave our luck to the kind hearted tourists to let us join them. Prayers answered! Yahooo! There's a group who went to falls and they still have seats available in the van to accommodate us. Topping it all, they're heading to Manila the next day taking Sagada-Baguio route. Just my luck, the road I’m taking is the route I originally planned. I will be seeing the other side of the mountain taking Halsema Highway. As per research its one scenic view you shouldn’t miss. 

So there, after the trekking adventure we freshen up and prepared again for another set of activities: eco tour (hanging coffins up close, echo valley and the church) and will end in Lake Danum for sunset view and bonfire.Another food trip for late lunch at Masferre Restaurant. I ordered the Massferre Chicken with veggie side dish and a mango shake. Wallet Damage Php 270.00



The Cemetery


St Mary’s Church


Echo Valley


After that belly buster lunch, we then headed to echo valley and up close encounter to the hanging coffins of Sagada. Along the way we passed by St Mary's Church and the Cemetery. When we reached the echo valley, I shouted checking if its indeed true. Hahahah... Then we head down to the hanging coffins.  Eerie yet fascinating, the old Igorot tradition of burying their loved ones speaks highly of the tribe’s rich culture. The hanging coffins of Sagada may be awkwardly placed but for ancient Igorots, the bizarre tradition was meant to put their loved ones closer to heaven. It can be reach through an exhausting trek but the uphill one is the most challenging part.

Hanging Coffins


Rock Climbing


After that short eco tour we headed to Lake Danum for bonfire and sunset viewing and I actually don't know why the sun has been so shy lately. It didn’t show up as grandly as expected. We had a great time taking pictures nonetheless in Lake Danum. 

Lake Danum

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It’s our last night in Sagada so we won’t miss the chance to stop by and dine on the local resto we passed by when we went to Cave Sumaguing. Since I am a coffee addict myself we had dinner at Sagada Brew and of course aside from ordering a full course meal I got the Caramel Macchiato to complete the experience. The meal costs Php 200.00 you have a viand and a salad with dessert already, not bad. The macchiato is at Php100.00.

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We also passed by Sagada Lemon Pie house to taste the ever famous lemon pie. It looks like ‘brazo de mercedes’ as the white part is soft and sweet. The sourness of the lemon just supplemented the taste of the sweetness of the crust.  


I had a great time Experiencing, Exploring and Eating in Sagada. It's one hell of an adventure. I didn’t regret taking that challenge and embark a solo flighted adventure to Mt. Province. I survived Sagada with a smiling face, fulfilled soul and happy tummy.