(Joen, Jen, and Me @ Kiltepan Point where supposedly sunset view)
Surviving Sagada’s Bad Weather
The next day was planned for the day tour we arranged with SAGGAS. The itinerary was to visit Kiltepan Point for sunrise,visiting Marlboro Country, Lake Danum, Bomod-ok Falls, and Echo Valley/Hanging Coffins. Seems like one heck of adventure in Sagada.
We woke up early morning and the rain from last night hasn’t stopped. Although we have arranged for a whole day tour with the SAGGAS and the beautiful couple, Jia and Rodinne. The two backed out but the 3 of us continued as planned.
(Photo Credits: Jen Pacursa on above and bottom photos; Sagada Pottery)
Rain or Shine…
James, our ‘funny’ guide picked us up from the lodge at 4am, after breakfast. It was pouring rain! The van that picked us up couldn’t even run properly because of that rain giving hard time to the driver but we still went to Kiltepan Point to watch a supposed-to-be-sunrise. When we got there, we saw nothing but fog! We took photos of the ‘view’ and then we left for the Pottery. It seems like an abandoned one, with no one around but the pots and their tools, again, we took photos of what we can have for that so-called tour and left.
(The Hanging Coffins @ The Echo Valley)
What The?!… Trek-ek-ek-ek.
We asked James what else that we can explore because we don’t want to spoil our day going to places where we can’t see anything interesting. He then suggested that we go to Echo Valley where we tried screaming and shouting to test the echoes that for some reason only works when guys shout. Again, we took some photos and since it didn’t amuse us (because it didn’t echo our voices) we went to trek the trail to the Hanging Coffins below the Echo Valley’s cliff.
(Photo Credits: Jen Pacursa: Wild Strawberries)
(James and Joen crossing the river)
The Hanging Coffins are the traditional way of tribe people’s burial, it was believed that the higher they hang the coffins, the nearer its soul to the Kingdom of Heaven. The traditional burial is done by only 2 men to climb the rocks and place the coffin to where the family of the dead wants it to be, and unlike a regular burial that we have to pay, theirs are totally free!
(Stars of the Trek; Joen, Me, and Jen)
While we were at the Hanging Coffins area, we heard people shouting and trying out the echo if it would work. Just like how it did to us, it only worked for the guys. Jen played with their echoes shouting back “I love you, Piolo-lo-lo-lo-lo!” (Piolo Pascual is a Filipino actor), we all cracked into laughters and heard them asking “Is it hard to go there?” (referring to the Hanging Coffins area), we shouted back “Hinde! (No!)”. They did not go down to trek the area though, I reckon the ladies with them doesn’t like to trek a muddy bushy trail in the rain.
(James looking for a good branches to make us some hiking staff)
This is not your ordinary Star Trek, but WE are the Stars of this Trek
After that, James said there is a small underground river there if we’re up for a 30 min. trek under a pouring rain. This time its a little trickier to trek according to James. Everyone was up for the challenge, we said “yes!”. Soon enough the trek’s getting harder and harder because of the slippery mud with one hand carrying an umbrella. James offered to make us some ‘hiking staff’, using his ‘bolo’ (a huge traditional blade) he made us great trekking sticks that helped us a lot to climb and trek muddy trails. We saw some Wild Strawberries along the way too, we all tried some. It tasted soury-bitter fruit and I can only compare it to an exotic local fruit ‘Camias’ (Bilimbi Fruit), only a little blend.
(The underground river cave, The creepiest!)
(Beautiful View from The Mystical Underground Cave)
(Here’s why it’s extra-ordinary. This was my shot, and where’s my face?!)
We crossed a beautiful rocky river, water current was strong but ‘trekkable’ (yep, I invented that word), climbed up some rocks to get to its other side and it was paradise! Everywhere around it was lusciously green, it looks amazing! We all ran to the cave and asked James to take some photos of us three together with that greenish background before we took time to rest and had our photo shoots there again.
Sagada’s Mystical Places Everywhere
We didn’t get in to the cave much, just at the beginning and there’s a way out just few steps away from the mouth of the cave. It was dark in the inner part of the cave we didn’t bother exploring, it was too mystical at where we were already. You heard me right, we felt something going there. Oops, I missed to tell you that there was a tiny cave along the way to this underground river cave where Jen spotted some human-like form standing in front that I couldn’t see, until she borrowed my camera and said she’ll take a shot of it. As soon as she pointed the camera that way, I then immediately saw the image from the camera screen, goosebumps!
(This is the original shot, it’s clearer seeing it from the camera’s LCD screen)
(I have to adjust the hue to make it visible here, because most people couldn’t see it. The adjustment proved there was really something there! Look closely to see the lady!)
In the underground river cave, I asked Jen to take a photo of me sitting on that huge rock at the mouth of the cave. There were piled balanced stones too, we took photos of it. Nothing special about it right? Right, but something creepy came out of that, I only found out few days after we got back to Manila. My solo shot on the huge rock? I have no face at all! Major goosebumps! We found lots of creepy shots from the trip, let alone the shots we have spelunking Lumiang-Sumaguing Caves. Not only us, but even Jia and Rodinne said they have few mystical shots from Lumiang-Sumaguing Caves too.
I already felt something at the cave connection but I ignored it, thinking, I wouldn’t want to spoil the trip giving them creepy stories. Then again, Joen started telling stories she’s seeing and feeling something. We tried to ignore it, but when the photos came out we couldn’t believe what we saw. Jen’s photo at the edge in Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave was phenomenal, it was her solo shot who gave us the grandest goosebumps. Although our bodies produced smokes from the freezing dip, that smoke formation was not even close to her body to say its her body smoke nor the camera man’s because the guide who took that shot didn’t swim in the freezing water. What did we see? It may not as clear here, but watching it straight from Jen’s camera the smoke formation was a woman’s head smiling, with face and flowing long hair like its turning its head for the shot. I’m still having goosebumps telling these stories. Okay, enough for that but its not the end for the creepy ones.
(Rice Paddies view going to Bokong Falls)
Creepy Trek to Bokong Falls
After that trek, we head to Bokong Falls. The view around Bokong Falls was beautiful, the green rice terraces view was priceless. A long trek down from the road where the van dropped us off to the falls, you get to see all these rice paddies and again, another creepy story happened. During the trek, James, our guide was at the back and in front us was a split trail. stood still and remembered I made sure to look for a stable ground to put my feet on because I know its slippery muddy everywhere, we waited ’til James get closer and asked “Is it left or right?”, as soon as James said “To the right!” I sled and fell on the muddy trail. I was wondering how did that happen when I haven’t moved a muscle and I was on a stable ground? It’s like someone pushed me. Everyone started to be quiet, so creeped out. Few steps away, we found an abandoned wooden house. It was nice and still well kept. We asked James if he knows the people living there and where are they? James said, there was an old woman who lives there alone for a long time who just died few months ago. GOOSEBUMPS AGAIN! It explains why it still looks well kept, but I wonder was my falling in the mud relates to this story? I don’t know but I had a feeling it was, possible the host wants us to see her place too soon and us standing still there waiting for James? I think another one was trying to lead us the way.
Dining in Sagada
Honestly, after that trek. It drained our energies. That we didn’t want to finish the rainy tour after lunch. The eating places were more expensive than Manila (dearer than expected to a vegetable growing province), I suggest you buy your food from the market and ask your hostel owners to let you cook your own food for a minimal gas fee. You’ll get cheaper that way. Average meal outside was Php70-80 (more than a $1 USD) I know it’s cheap but I’m expecting it would be cheaper since the supply of vegetables in Manila are from there, yet their meals are dearer than meals you’ll get in Manila. Then again, every local restaurants offers brown rice though (but I’m not a fan of it).
That was the end of the trip, we told James we wouldn’t finish the itinerary since sunset will not be visible due to the heavy rain. We have a little misunderstanding about the prices they were asking us than the price agreed yesterday for the tour. We got it settled for a little bit higher than we expect and less than what they were asking. I told them, we can’t pay that much, that’s just how much our budget for the whole trip! Jen, explained to the other guide (not James, I forgot his name) who talked to us that he did not clarify things and he didn’t came out with us that day, so we were even confused where we were going. Original itinerary was tweaked because of the weather that costs us a lot.
On Board the Car of the Angels
Anyway, we found the couple, Jia and Rodinne having lunch in a cozy restaurant near the SAGGAS office. They were going back home soon, Jen asked if we can hitch because they have their own car and they are nice enough to even wait for us settle with the SAGGAS, packed our stuff, to join them. They drove us all the way to Baguio where we bought ‘pasalubong‘ (souvenirs and food for friends and family). We tried to share at least for their gas because its a 6-hour drive, and they didn’t accept it! How lucky we are to meet people like them? For some reason, I call these people angels. Since I left home at 21, angels are always there to help! Million thanks to you both, Jia and Rodinne!
Shopping in Baguio
In Baguio, it was around 8pm and we’re starving. Jen, me, and sore Joen (she can’t walk properly because of the trek we did yesterday and earlier that day is taking it toll on her, first time trekker, I forgot to remind her the trekking tips I wrote about) went to dine in McDonald’s after shopping for pasalubongs that I never did until that day, took a taxi to the bus terminal and bound to Manila.
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