The Sagada Charm

The lovely town of Sagada is ideal for hikers, backpackers and those in solitude searching for a moment of tranquility away from the concrete jungle. It is reminiscent of the turn of the century American town in the Philippines which combined the unique culture of the Sagadans from long ago. Be amazed with their strong traditional culture especially those associated with rice planting and harvest as well as those of weddings and wakes. I strongly recommend walking around town and at the same time just savor the peace of your walk and the beautiful landscape of the town.

The tourists visiting the town of Sagada most especially those who will go caving are advised to register in the Municipal Hall. The town has certified and authorized guide for your caving, so it is highly advisable to inquire and register.

Here are some pictures of the charming houses of Sagada. I have noticed that some of the houses have tin roof like wall, the explanation offered to me is that its yero like wall (tin roof like wall) offers heat during cold months. I, together with my best friend visited Sagada during the hot month of April and the weather in Sagada is cool, perhaps 12-14°C. This cool weather makes hiking and walking around the town ideal.

Seeing these houses makes me feel like I am in a different period and I enjoyed it. 🙂

That’s my best friend Cheen in our Sagada home… the Sagada Guest House. Again, we are fortunate to score a room in the Inn without any prior reservation (again, I am reiterating the need for a reservation to ensure that you have a place, we’re just lucky during this trip). The room is clean, we have our own toilet and bath, and despite the heater, the water is still cold for me.

It is conveniently located in the poblacion near the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin and near the transport terminal going to Baguio, Bontoc and nearby towns.

It is also near the town hall and it is perhaps the center of pedestrian traffic in Sagada. If you need anything, there are sari-sari  store nearby(Filipino version of a convenient store which has building space mostly on its owner’s house). The souvenir shop has a good collection of postcards and other souvenir items.

Now, I hope you will enjoy the breathtaking landscape which is distinctively Sagada.

Sagada is best enjoyed by walking. You’ll get the chance to see beautiful rock and limestone formation on both sides of the road.

You should be  very observant and you will see hanging coffins right on the mountain side which is made of limestones. At first, I mistook it as lumber but it turns out that is is a hanging coffin.

We accidentally came across these hanging coffins. The residents told us, that this is a burial site for the children who passed away due to an epidemic. Good thing I am a natural usi (kibitzer) so we were able to see this. This is near the Lumiang Cave.

And now… the Lumiang Cave

That is the hanging coffins. You will wonder how the old people of Sagada were able to bury their dead on these caves which in modern times will take you around 30 minutes to hike on a paved trail. the coffins are well-preserved too and the bones inside are still intact. It is simply amazing.

Tourists are requested by the guide (on the main road en route this cave) not to get any “souvenir” from the cave. She informed us that there are some foreign tourists who got some “souvenir” from the burial sites. I just found that freaky and irksome. Hello?! No matter how many centuries has passed they are still coffins and these sites are sacred sites for the natives of Sagada. I hope that we will respect that, period. So please take all the pictures you want but not any part of the coffin, it is simply not right and it is so disrespectful.

Actually, I do not know whether to smile or not on this photo, but obviously I smiled (because I looked better than looking serious which looks like I am having stomach trouble). Again, please, please, please, do not take any part of the coffin. Lumiang Cave and the other cave which have hanging coffins are sacred sites for the people of Sagada. Just take your picture and pose, that’s it and hike back, again, no taking of “souvenir” please.

A view deck in the hiking trail going to Lumiang Cave.

And now… presenting the Sagada mountain side and the rice terraces of Sagada.

The rice terraces and the pine trees are along the road from Lumiang Cave going to the bigger cave which is Sumaging.

The Sumaging Cave is commonly referred to as the big cave. You need a tour guide and a lamp to enter and traverse the cave. If you’re fit you can go caving on this cave via a 40 minutes hike of a combination of water, bat dropping and stalactites and stalagmites all over. But due to me being flat-footed and so un-athletic, I was able to hike only up to the opening of the cave. It is relatively cool inside. I am just worried that I can sustain injury (which is possible, I trip while wearing flipflops and rubber shoes how’s that?! So this trip which I called the Northern Exposure trip is quite a feat for me, but just the same, I am on the safe side rather than be airlifted for an injury. And despite this, I have the time of my life in Sagada and the rest of my Northern Exposure. 🙂

Yes, that’s me a few meters away from Cheen when she took this picture.

These are just on the opening of the cave, truly amazing.

It is also advisable that you should water proofed your camera when caving, there are parts where water runs up to your waist and there are also cascading waters from the top.

After all the walking and climbing, do grab a bite at Yogurt House and of course try their famous yogurt. yum-o. And speaking of food, it is good to eat at Masferre Country Inn and restaurant. Order for the Sagada red rice. The place is teeming with Masferre photos of the Indigenous people of the Cordillera Region.

Here’s the only worth posting photo of me in a restaurant, perhaps I am so full that I didn’t even bother to take picture of the Yogurt House or the Masferre Restau.

We had our lunch here before we go to the caves. Many restaurants serve Filipino and International cuisines. And it seems like everything is so fresh and the vegetables are actually green leafy vegetables. 🙂

Of course,  I would not miss out on an old church and old buildings.

The Anglican Church of St. Mary the Virgin is the oldest church in the Cordillera region outside Baguio City. Located at the Episcopalian Mission Compound, it was consecrated on December 8, 1921. You can see the mixture of foreign and indigenous design.

Behind the church’s compound is the St. Mary’s Highschool and the Calvary Hill which you can hike for 15 minutes. Further along the trail is the Echo Point and the Echo Valley which have hanging coffins.

The Parish Wheel

The antique bell, dated AD 1921.

The SMV Parish Center

St. Theodore Hospital. It presume that this is a pre-war (WW II) building which shows American influence.

Do visit Sagada Weaving and enjoy these place mats among others…