Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sagada - Part 2

First Part

The next morning after we surpassed the challenges of  Spelunking, we woke up so early to catch the sunrise in Kiltepan Viewpoint, but unfortunately, the weather failed us. No sunrise at that time, so we just decided to skip the sunrise viewing and bound to our next destination. -  Pongas Falls.

Pongas Falls is situated on the southern part of Sagada, five kilometers away from town. The half day tour there can also arrange at (Sagada Genuine Guide Association) SAGGAS and they will give you a tour guide and a van to rent. 600Php for the ride and another 600Php for the guide.

Howkie! Then we started our walk going to the office of SAGGAS to arrange our adventure. Lucky us, we saw Kuya Rad along the way (Kuya Rad was our guide during our Spelunking). We’re very lucky because Kuya Rad arranged everything for us. Hassle free na!!

We took a van to Ankileng which is the jump off point to the Pongas Falls. After we arrived at Ankileng, we hastily jumped out of the van and this beautiful landscape welcomed us..

Rice terraces of Ankileng

This spectacular view really amazed me.

Seeing this stunning place wanted me to start our trek right away, Parang di nakakapagod maglakad dito.

Ankileng Elementary School

After a few minutes of our walk, we crossed a hanging bridge.

Walking on this bridge was a bit scary because it creaks and it shakes, but I had fun doing it anyway, because its not like everyday you get the chance to do this, right?

Level 1 pa lang at madali pa ang trek, at sobrang nakakaenjoy pa ang mga nakikita ko.

Until we passed the village of Ankileng..
Registration is needed - 10Php each

This was the challenging part of our trek where we had to cross through rice paddies, and there were part that we also had to walk through the narrow edges of the cliff. All hikers should be careful when crossing here because it was really not a joke, your one wrong step can lead you to a serious injury. (No pictures during these extreme hiking, safety first pa rin dapat)

Then after more than 2 hours of our trek, we finally reached the Pongas Falls. We're very happy that after all the obstacles that we surpassed along the way, these beautiful views rewarded us. It’s very beautiful and refreshing.

The waterfalls remains prisitine because of its relative seclusion.

I guess this is the most courageous part of this adventure, because not everybody had the guts to at least try this. Taking a dip in this ice cold water. Hanglameeeeeg!!

After we enjoyed the beauty of Pongas Falls, we went back to town and had a sumptuous lunch at the Yoghurt House.

Yoghurt House is the most popular resto in town, I learned this place when i was googling on where-to-eat-in-sagada prior to our trip and yoghurt house was always on the list, so i was too excited to try their food. 

                        Roasted Eggplant in Basil                                                        Bolognese
Im sorry that i forgot your name                                                    Fruits for all seasons

They served an amazing food for affordable price, no wonder why this place is the most famous resto in town

The pictures can tell how satisfied we were after that sumptuous lunch.
and then we headed to our  accommodation to freshen up before we proceed to our next activity.

After getting some rest, we left our house and jump to our next activity. We headed to echo valley, eager to get a closer glimpse of these hanging coffins. But unfortunately, we were not able to do it again because the place were crowded of students and I guess their professor was also teaching them about something related to the hanging coffins. Bad timing!

This is one of the disadvantages of doing a trip during long weekend, madami ka talagang makakasabay! So we had no choice but to let this opportunity pass, we were just hoping for a good and fun bonfire dinner that night. It was actually very disappointing because hanging coffins was my top reason why i was too excited to go to sagada, but for the second time, di naman natuloy.

Then another bad news came after a while. Kuya Rad informed us that he had to cancel our bonfire dinner due to the bad weather. Wala na, uwi na lang kami ng bahay at dun nagdinner. Pero masaya naman at pyesta ang hinanda ng mga kasama ko.

And because I was still determined to go to the hanging coffins, what happened the next day was Lyn, Ed and I woke up so early, we left our house and went to the echo valley at around 6am while other tourists still enjoying their sleep. Wala na naman sigurong sagabal sa daan ng ganung kaaga.

We were right because there were no other people in the place at that time. We started our trek down hill right away, we just followed the trail until we finally reach it. Sa wakas!!

One of the old customs in Sagada is they hang their tombs on a cliff instead of being placed into the ground, because they believed that the higher the body is laid, the closer the souls were to heaven, they also protecting these bodies from any disasters like floods or earthquakes.

Patunay lang na nakapunta ako ^_^
Now I know why Sagada is one of the most visited tourist attraction in our country, and why Ed never get tired to return here every year. Its because of the perfect cold weather, numerous activities that everyone MUST try, especially the spelunking, and of course this place has lots of natural attractions to discover that Im pretty sure everyone would enjoy. So i guess di pa to ang huli dahil di ko pa naisasagad ang saya sa sagada!!! :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sagada - part1

I really got excited when my friend Ed invited me and our four other friends to have a weekend trip in Sagada, since it was his 5th time to go there,  we let him to do all the planning including our itinerary.  He also made the seat reservations for us at Cable Tours.

Cable Tours - Travels daily from QC to Bontoc
Contact #: +63929-8194688
Address: E. Rodriguez St., Quezon City
Fare: 650.00

Cable Tours Bus

We left Quezon City at around 8:30 PM and took us 13 hours before we reached the serene town of Sagada. Good thing that I had no trouble catching sleep on that bus. The usual trip of Cable tours buses will not take you directly to Sagada, they usually drop their passengers to Bontoc, but since almost half of us commuters were heading to sagada, the driver agreed to extend his trip to our destination and charged us P100 each, but we were able to haggle it down to just 75 pesos. Kelangan lang ng konting diskarte sa pagiging kuripot
Municipal Hall

When we arrived at the municipal hall, we looked for Ate Gladys, the owner of the transient house that Ed learned from the blogs when he was researching for this trip. Ate Gladys welcomed us with a shy smile. Her house is only a 3mins walk downhill to municipal hall, and the best part of it was we were allowed to use almost all of the stuff in her house, we were also permitted to cook at her kitchen and make tambay at her sofa. Indeed, we felt like we were at home..

Living Area/sala with cable TV 
Dining area
Our room
Contact #: (063) 919-4778647
Address: Poblacion, Sagada
Rate: 250.00 per person

After unloading our bags and a short rest, we left the house to start our trip. As we checked our itinerary, the first activity listed there was to walk down to echo valley doooown to the famous hanging coffins, but unfortunately, the rain started to fall and the trek would be difficult because of the slippery trail. So we decided to do the spelunking first.

We went to SAGGAS office to book a tour for spelunking, and the admin of Saggas asked us wether we wanted to go on normal caving (Sumaguing Cave only that will take us 2hrs) or go through the Cave Connection (Lumiang Cave going to Sumaguing Cave and will take us 4 to 6hrs) at dahil mayabang kami at feeling hardcore, Cave connection na ang pinili namin.

After we signed up for this activity, we started our journey going to the cave. Since Ed did this for so many times, he decided not to join us this time so we left him at the Yoghurt House.

After a couple of minutes of walking, we finally reached the starting point of cave connection

Our first glimpse at the lumiang cave

We entered to Lumiang Cave and started our journey. After a few steps, the light coming from the sky outside started to vanish and darkness takes over

Kuya Rad (Our guide from SAGGAS) hunched down and set up our lamp while giving us advice on what to do and not to do during the activity.

Kuya Rad - ang aming kwelang guide

Then after warming up and a deeeeeeep breathe, we followed our guide and he lead us further down. Bahala na si Batman sa amin.

Spelunkers must be in a good physical condition because you must do a lot of crawling, rappelling and there are parts that you need to dip in a cold water.

You also need to get in through small holes
Gapang na kung gapang para makalusot
the rappelling part
Kuya Rad is very stretchable, parang si lastikman.
After some crazy aerobatic stunts that we did, we saw these wonderful rock formations. This time you need to use your imagination for you to see clearly what the rock formations resemble.

Can you see the face?

Haystock Formation

Rated PG

After lots of crawling, climbing and rappelling, we finally reached Sumaguing Cave, meaning we're more than halfway through our spelunking.

Arthur and Narlene

Pahinga pahinga din naman
The cave were crowded because of the long weekend, long weekend for the students, ONLY!!.. :) Daya!
After five minutes of rest, Kuya Rad asked us if we want to go further down where we can see more of rock formations or we want to go up to finally finish our paghihirap spelunking , I guess Kuya Rad noticed that we were already tired. Art, Nar and Ate Connie gave up and didn’t want to continue but Me and Lyn went down, sayang naman ang pagod namin kung di pa namin susulitin, at sayang din ang 400 pesos na binayad namin.

The trek in Sumaguing Cave is a lot easier than Lumiang Cave. Lyn and I were talking about how happy we were to see more of rock formations there, which undeniably more stunning. Again, open your imagination as you see different rock formations.

Big Turtle

Rated PG

Rated PG
Chocolate Cake and another rappeling to see more of rock formations.
The curtains
Rated PG
Mother and Child

The end and my favorite part; wading through the water..
After more than five hours of doing our acrobatic moves, we finally ended and survived the cave connection. I felt fulfilled. But still, we had to do our final stunt: the way up going to our exit. (which is the entrance of Sumaguing Cave)

It was already dark when we finally reached our way out. Since we're all exhausted because of that fulfilling cave connection, we decided to hire a van that would take us to our transient home. We came home tired and hungry but very satisfied :)

This caving experience was the highlight of my sagada trip. This one is a MUST DO when you visit Sagada.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Quick Visit to Dumaguete

After we experienced the mysterious province of Siquijor, we also got the chance to discover the bustling yet charming City of Dumaguete.

Dumaguete Port
We arrived at the port of Dumaguete around lunch time, so we had a quick lunch in one of the turo-turo before we headed to our accommodation to unload our things. 

After settling down, we left the hotel and started to explore and see what the "City of Gentle People" has to offer. 
Dumaguete is the motor capital of the Philippines, so don’t be surprised if you see a lot of motorbike parking around the streets. Tricycle is the primary mode of transportation here.

It is a very small quaint city so getting around is doable, and locals are very friendly too, so don’t hesitate to ask for direction if you feel that you’re getting lost. 

The first place we visited was Quezon Park where you can sit, relax and mingle to local folk. Nothing more relaxing to sat in a place surrounded by trees, statues and children’s playground. Dumaguete Tourism Office is also situated here, where most of the local and foreign tourists asked for assistance when they doing a tour in Dumaguete. If you want to get a reliable information about the place, tourism office will be your best buddy and they will be more than happy to help. 

Quezon Park

Dumaguete Tourism Office

Just across the park is Dumaguete Cathedral Church. It is the oldest stone church in Negros, it was built in 1754 to 1776. There are four saints above the four pillars which hold the gate of the Church, Saint Matthew, Luke, John and Mark.  A lot of devotees come here every day to express their devotion and gratitude.

Standing next to the cathedral is Dumaguete Bell Tower, known as the oldest Belfy in the Province. After our cam-whoring in the Park, I decided to light candles in the Bell Tower. There’s a small shop on one side of the Dumaguete Belfry, they sell all sorts of religious icons like rosary beads, novena guides and other stuff.

Dumaguete Cathedral Church

Dumaguete Belfry

Then we headed to Rizal Boulevard to stroll and find something to eat for our merienda.They said that our vacation in Dumaguete would not be completed without visiting this place. It made me more curious and excited. Rizal Boulevard is almost the same scenery as Roxas Boulevard, mas mabangong bersyon ng Roxas Boulevard nga lang. There are numerous bars/resto across the boulevard where the foreign tourists hanging out. 

Along the boulevard, we noticed tables set up. There were vendors selling tempura, balut and other street foods. Sakto sa pamawid gutom hehe. Their tempura is like “the kikiam” in Manila na mas masarap.

Tempura Alfresco Area

They will serenade you..

Just a stone-throw away from the Boulevard is the Silliman University, considered to be one of the best and biggest universities in all of Asia. The Campus is relatively big with lots of acacia tree around, looks like the campus of UP Diliman. We strolled around the site and observed other students while doing their usual student thing like tsikahan, kantahan and some were playing Frisbee, and then suddenly I feel like I wanted to be a student again.

You can always visit this university by obtaining VISITOR’S PASS to the guard on duty even if you were not a resident student.

Our travel wouldn’t complete without trying the best food in the City, so we headed to Café Antonio because this is one of the most famous resto in the City. Well, I found the place dramatic, beautiful colonial house with piano in the corner. And the food? It's great with reasonable priced. I even asked if they have branch in Metro Manila, sadly none.

After our sumptuous dinner, we transferred to these endearing swing-seats on the terrace. We had a little beer bonding before we went to our hotel to get some rest.

We had so much for a day that our bed invited us to have a sound sleep till the morning! 

The next morning, our group decided and agreed to spend our remaining hours to visit Tierra Alta. It is located in Palinpinon, Valencia, just a 15 to 20 minutes tricycle ride away from the City. It is called Tierra Alta because of the high terrain. You will see from the top (particularly when you reached the top of the light house) the oceans and the nearby islands.

They have the best amenities, lagoon type swimming pool with Jacuzzi, bonfire areas, light house view deck and zip line adventure. The swimming pool was very inviting and we really wanted to take a dip but the fee wasn’t affordable so we decided to try it next visit, and will make sure to be back there during night to use the bonfire, I think it’s weird to build a bonfire during day time, right? Haha 

For Php 200.00 entrance fee you can visit Tiera Alta with consumable drinks/food and take advantage of the swimming pool! But if you want to just walk around and see the beauty of the Place, (just like what we did), you just have to pay 60Php.

After visiting Tierra Alta, we went back to the City and had our lunch in Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries. This was included in our “Bucket List”.  Sans Rival has been a brilliant selection of food. They serve not only cakes and pastries but also rice and pasta. I heard from a friend that sans rival was very delicious so I ordered to try and I wasn’t disappointed. I also ordered lasagna and it’s also fantastic. The next time I visit Dumaguete, I will go back there and try Silvanas.

Our time in Dumagute is about to end after the memorable and priceless experience we had around the City and we need to be back to the hotel to packed our things home!

Indeed, it was a great experience to discover Dumaguete. I know we had a little time exploring the City, but hey! There’s always a next time.The famous destination Casaroro Falls, Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao gave us a strong reason to go back! So, see you again soon, Dumaguete!