It has been seven years now since I first came here in Japan, which means that it has also been seven years since I last went to Sagada in the northern part of the Philippines. For most people, Sagada is a place to reconnect with nature, be familiar with one of the country's ethnic roots, or a cool haven away from the urban heat in Metro Manila. Going there is an adventure as one needs to travel more than 10 hours from Manila via zigzag roads beside dangerous cliffs. But this is nothing compared to the wonderful sceneries along the way especially the man-made rice terraces and the lush greeneries.

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Amazing view while going through the long and winding road to Sagada

 

Similar to other local and foreign tourists, me and my best friend spent a day or two to see and explore Sagada. We usually start our trip from Manila at 12 midnight going to Baguio City by bus. Around 6:00 in the morning, we would reach Baguio and from there we would take another six-hour trip to Sagada. Finding a place to stay has never been difficult despite peak season because we have a friend who lives there. Her family is very kind enough to let us stay in their house for free. In return, we bring some "pasalubong" or goodies for her kids.

Our first day has always been alloted for some community outreach in one of its villages or barangays. Together with other friends and members of the Rotaract Club of Sampiro, we prepare some gift bags with school supplies and sweets for the children of Barangay Angkileng. And since their community is a bit far from cemented roads, we needed to walk for an hour or so along the rice paddies in order to reach their community center. There was even a time when I needed to carry our host's baby at my back because his mom needed to help convene the people beforehand. It has always been a great experience to spend time with the locals especially kids; play games with the toddlers; and be amazed with their dancing and singing. Seeing a happy child because of a piece of chocolate or jelly is heartwarming and at the same time humbling because it makes me appreciate the simple things in life that we often neglect. Unfortunately at that time, I am not a photo enthusiast. Wish I could have captured those precious moments 🙁

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Preparing the gifts for the kids of Ankileng, Sagada (photo source: blueaficionado.blogspot.jp)
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Dancing with kids during our outreach project in 2007 (photo source: blueaficionado.blogspot.jp)

After that, we would go for some sight-seeing to relax and enjoy the place. Although we had been there for several times, I do not get tired of admiring the hanging coffins and caving in Sumaguing Caves. I also like walking along the road enjoying the cool breeze and the tall pines.

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The hanging coffins: an ancient burial practice of the locals. It is believed that the higher the coffin, the closer the spirit to the gods. (photo source: panoramic.com)
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Going down to Sumagiung Cave
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Magnificent limestone formations inside Sumaguing Cave
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Admiring the stone altar of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Sagada

Two or three days are not really enough to fully embrace and be enchanted with Sagada. But as we made the most of our trips, those two-day trips will always be cherished. And hopefully in the very near future, I would be able to share with my new family 🙂