Conquer Sagada

June is considered a rainy season in the Philippines. But luckily there’s no rain in sight when we had our trip to Sagada.

The Travel Factor group met at Florida bus station in Espana, Manila, right in front of my alma mater, UST. We will be travelling at night straight to Banaue, Mt. Province so I know it’s gonna be a long journey for about 8-hour drive. Me and Flok we’re seated together and both of us are first-timers to Sagada, excited much! She slept during the journey and I did not. Well I just had about 1-hour nap and I know it’s not enough because when we reach Sagada, our first activity is spelunking! Say what?!  I’ll do spelunking without getting any decent sleep! arghh!

At around 630am, we arrived Mt. Province. What a fresh of breath air! We headed straight to Banaue rice terraces to took some souvenir shots. The place is amazing, it’s like a field of dreams and I never imagined that these terraces are carved by the Ifugaos ages ago and I wouldn’t mind going back to this place again.

        

After clicks and pose, it’s time for breakfast. We ate at Hidden Valley Restaurant and they only served 2 types of meal, longsilog or pancake. I opted the former. After breakfast, it’s top load time, yipee!!! ! It will take around 3-4 hours to drive before we reach Sagada.  We will be riding a jeepney and we had a chance to seat on top of the jeep. And since we are 12, it’s impossible for all of us to be seated on top at the same time so we decided to do it into 2 batch. I belong to the second batch. We drive around the zigzag road and experience a close encounter of the rice terraces without zooming in the camera. Everything in sight are all greens…rolling hills everywhere…the beauty is overwhelming! Take turns and it’s time for us to be on top of the jeep. It’s a different feeling when you’re seated on top because every time we swerve either to the left or to the right, it’s like we’re dropping off on the edge of the cliff. We kept on shouting as if we will fell off. I think the driver is doing that intentionally so it will be more fun and exciting! Robert is brave enough to took a video while we’re on top. He’s not holding on to the rails and wouldn’t mind if his iPhone would fell off. He needs to take a video of us on top of the jeep and he made it, good job Roberta! hahahaha! 🙂

        

        

We arrived at Alibama Inn at 11am. This will be our home for 3 nights. Actually the house has 5 rooms and we occupied the 4 rooms. I am sharing room with Flok. Unfortunately there’s no heater on the shower. Well what do we expect, this is a backpacking tour so everything we had are the basics. After we freshen up and had a quick lunch, it spelunking time!

        

     

  Let’s hit if off to Sumaguing and Lumiang Cave. Only the brave can go inside the cave and I think I am one of them. Since I am claustrophobic,  Jess asked me first if I can make it and I said yes but on the back of my mind I have apprehension of doing it, me inside the cave for 5-6 hrs?, it’s cold, it’s dark!!! will I survive?!?!  But contrary to what I expect, it’s not that scary as I expect it to be.  As we go along the way, the surface become slippery, the rocks are getting steeper to climb and the bad thing is I felt so sleepy already not to mention tired and hungry as well. I guess the rest of us are!  But nevertheless, we conquer our first day,,, the Cave Connection Adventure! whew!

         

  

        

        

     

        

Day 2, another task is waiting for us. But before we face our adventure for the day, we first went to Kiltepan Tower for sunrise viewing. Some of the group wake up early while the rest still hiding behind their sheets. You can’t blame them, the coldness in Sagada is different that you may want to stay in bed all day long.  Naturally I won’t let it pass not seeing the sunrise in Sagada.  When we arrive at Kiltepan, there were already tourist on site. Wow, the panoramic view is beyond amazing! If I have a chance to stay there all day, I would. Just sitting around on top of the mountain, seeing clouds covering the mountains, contemplating about LIFE! God is so powerful he created such scenery no one could ever do so!

        

    

    

        

Back to Alibaba, had our breakfast and it’s time to trek this time to Bomod-ok Falls. Everyone is ready, camera in tow, food to supply our trek and of course our walking stick! We needed that especially if walking uphill the terrain.  All we’re lined up while walking, taking shots here and there. We’re like inside the Farmville, seeing the farmers doing their harvest. After 2 hours walking under the heat of the sun with sweat all over, we finally reached the falls. There are already group of tourist there when we arrived so we look for a spot where we can leave our things just in case some decided to dip into the running water. I did not go into the water but insteas decided to sit atop of a big rock so I have a good view to took a shot of the falls. Locals were offering a free massage, I grab the opportunity. Just gave the boys some chocolates and 20 pesos as a token. After an hour of bonding time at the falls, it’s time to hit the fields and do the walking again for another 2 hours, whew! This time with the scorching heat of the sun and it already reached it’s peak since it is already 2pm. The nice thing is there are locals along the way who sell Gatorade. Can you believe they are selling Gatorade in the middle of the fields? The locals already anticipate that tourist would be needing that because trekking to reach the falls is no joke. It’s a bit expensive but who cares, if you’re thirsty and feels like being dehydrated already, you can’t really think of how much would it be. At 4pm we’re done and finally conquer our second adventure…. Trek to Bomod-ok Falls!! whew!!!

        

        

        

     

     

Back to homebase at Alibaba, we’re supposed to have sunset viewing at Lake Danum but due to thick fog, we just decided to have an early dinner at Yoghurt House and then happy hour at Salt and Pepper Bar.

        

     

        

This is our last day in Sagada. Up and early again for our last tour, this time we will be vising St. Mary’s Episcopal church, Calvary Hills, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins. After our morning tour, it’s all by ourselves. Some went back to Alibaba to pack their things, other went to public market to do some last minute shopping.  Me, Flok, Jess, Becx and Grace decided to drop by at Lemon Pie house.  A tour to Sagada is not complete without tasting the best lemon pie in the North.

        

     

So all our bags are packed and ready to go home.  Back to reality,,, back again to being a corporate slave!!! Till my next journey…   ~~~07.10-12.11 / Sagada, Mountain Province

        

        

El Dia E

El Dia E celebrated the feast of those who speak Spanish. And this event is yearly celebrated in Instituto Cervantes De Manila on the date of birth of our national hero, Jose Rizal.  Since I took my basic Spanish course in Instituto, me and my classmates decided to attend this event held in their campus in Malate.  Me and Louie wanted to join the recital for mainly because they are giving away free t-shirts for those who will participate. They needed 100 people to recite, too bad we came in late at the venue so we were not able to register since it’s on a first come first served basis.  There are some freebies also like magnets with Spanish script of course. There are programs and games for entertainment. There are also booth selling different stuff life books, souvenir items and food, all in Spanish. There’s also a free henna tattoo booth for those who want a temporary tattoo, of course, the design should be in Spanish script. This event is very educational especially for those who are very much interested in Spanish Culture.  ~~~06.18.11 / Instituto Cervantes De Manila, Malate

Building houses with Habitat for Humanity

This would be our 5th  activity our group would be joining another volunteer ptogram. This time we decided to join a build with Habitat for Humanity in Calauan, Laguna.

We meet up at 7-eleven in Pasay near the bus station at around 4:ooam. There are only 10 participants who joined this outreach.  After we reached the place, we need to take a tricycle to be able to go to the site.  We are the only group who will be doing the build. We were met by the coordinator, gave us orientation and instruction on what to do. Since it’s raining a little bit during that day, they asked us if we want to buy disposable raincoats.  All of us did because we will be outside the whole day as construction workers. So we let’s get our muscles on and the game begin! The first activity that we did was carrying and laying blocks. We have to carry each hollow block and put in on top of another block inside a long iron steel to make a wall. If only we’re playing lego,  it’s east and no sweat but, but this time, it’s no joke coz we’re building real houses. It looks easy at first but until we move on it’s getting hard because we have to make walls which is 4 feet tall for 5 houses.  After we finished building the wall, it’s time to put cement on holes to support  each block.  And of course before we can put cement, we have to do the mixing as well,, whew! All of us try a hand on the mixing, just to have the feel of the real construction worker. And seriously it’s so hard, using a shovel to mix cement with water, it became sticky and heavier. Need to have real strong arms to do it.

        

        

        

After our lunch, another task was given to us. It’s brick making this time! We we’re given instruction on how to do it and we have to create more than a hundred of bricks. We really enjoy doing this thing, not as tiring as the previous one. We kept on laughing every time a  bricked collapsed but very proud of ourselves if we’re able to make on! As we go along, we were able to master and finished them just in time.

        

        

        

        

This maybe the best tiring activity we had so far, but I personally say that all of us went home wearing a smile on our faces!  ~~~03.05.11 / Calauan, Laguna