Sagada is located in a valley near the central Cordillera between the mountains of main Cordillera Ranges and the Ilocos Range. It is just beside Bontoc, the provincial capital of Mt. Province and is only a few hours from Baguio.
According to many, one of a must go to destinations in the Philippines is Sagada. This is the place where one can go, backpacking, camping , caving, do trekking, visit the hanging coffins, enjoy the waterfalls, , and lastly get a taste of the famous yogurt.
Sagada is a sight to behold, the uneven rock formations that can be seen on the road. There’s memorial cliff with more than hundred year old coffins hanged in the air. Sagada people prefers to bury their deceased through wooden coffins kept in caves, or hanged above the ground as high as possible. It still remains a practice today by old locals. It is said that the higher it is placed the closer it is to heaven.
From Bontoc, I arrived at Sagada at around 12 noon, I was not able to make any reservations so I moved around the town and look for a good yet cheap accommodation. After an hour of scouting, I decided to stay at George Guest House and was able to get a room with a bathroom for 300/night.. I highly recommend George Guesthouse since the staff are very friendly, the room is clean as well as the restroom.
I decided to have my lunch at Yoghurt house, the place has a great bohemian ambiance and they serve large servings of great tasting food. Masferre Photographs serves as a design displayed on the walls. With the space provided, I guess the place can only accommodate a small number of guests.
On the same day, I scheduled to do the cave connection as it can be possibly done on a half day. There are two “standard” cave tours – the cave to cave link-up (connecting cave) and the Lumiang Cave tour. The cave link-up that I availed links Sumaging Cave (the largest cave in the area) and Lumiang cave. It takes around 4 hours to complete and there are numerous tight squeezes and several sections where you need to ascend/descend ropes to surpass some steep parts. As such a sound level of fitness is required. The tour costs 800 pesos for 1 person, 400 additional pesos for an additional person. Luckily, I was able to join a group to spit the bill.
Cave Full of Coffins
The Lumiang Cave tour takes only an hour or two, and follows the path of an underground watercourse, taking in some of the most spectacular formations in the area. The tour costs Php500.00/group of 1-5 person. After walking for 20-30 mins, We finally reached the entrance of the cave at exactly 2:30PM. It was a big opening and there were coffins that greeted us, all the while I was thinking just to go straight inside the cave. But I was surprised that we entered a very small opening which our tour guide said was the start of our journey towards Sumaguing cave.
I’ve done caving in Biak na Bato in Bulacan but this is my first time to enter a cave like this and do all sorts of things like, rappel, literally fit my body into a tiny hole for me to get through, step on the tour guide so I can get to the next point, embrace the rocks to cling for my life, and a whole lot more. It’s hard to stay dry once inside. There were water pools, dipping area and falls, nature’s wonders at its best. It’s amazing how such beauty formed in time and hidden in the dark. The water seemed crystal to our lights, yet cold as ice.
It was so adventurous yet so fulfilling to accomplish so many tasks and finally reach the end of the cave – Sumaguing Cave. There were so many rock formations, stalagmites, stalactites, some bats and water flowing underground. After 4 hours of caving on our way up to the exit we were literally crawling our butts out of the cave because it was so slippery.
Sagada town is such a charming place that everyone seemed hesitant to leave. I can’t tell when I will be setting foot again or if I will be seeing the same when I get back. Fresh air, beautiful scenery.. After this trip, I am now considering Sagada as a place where I can settle.
Contributed by Alvin Caina of Frameless World