Sagada is not your usual Philippine travel destination. Nestled in the Mountain Province, getting there is a challenge in itself. From Baguio City, we had to catch the 5am trip to Sagada on Lizardo Liner, which takes you through the winding Halsema Highway that is ten times more zigzag than the Zigzag part of Kennon Road, to get to Sagada by 10am. But the destination makes it all worth it.
The climate is divine, by Philippine standards. It is much cooler than Baguio or Tagaytay without the perils of urban pollution.
There are a lot of things to do in Sagada depending on one’s interests and physical fitness. For those who love history and heritage like, some sites worth visiting are the Hanging Coffins, Masferre Inn for the old photographs of Cordillera life by pioneer Philippine photographer Eduardo Masferre, the church complex which includes the quaint Saint Mary the Virgin Church and the cemetery where historian William Henry Scott is buried, to name a few.
For those who are more adventurous, Sagada offers guided cave tours which take you through its extensive cave networks. The most famous cave is Sumaguing Cave with its interesting rock formations and cooling waters that make the hike seem easy. Spelunking, however, is not for those with faint hearts and weak knees.
Another Sagada adventure which should not be missed is hiking. In my last visit, we hiked for about two hours and went through the midst of rice terraces to reach Bomokod Falls. After a quick rest from the long and sweaty hike, it is best advised to take a dip in the freezing waters from the falls which form a natural pool. After all, your wet clothes will end up drying by the time you have made the return trip to Sagada town proper. Just make sure that you put on a lot of sun block if you choose the trekking adventure because the cool and balmy Sagada air makes you forget about sunburn.
A weekend getaway in Sagada will not be complete without the legendary Saturday buffet dinner at the Log Cabin Café. This is a special Sagada treat that you have to sign up early for as there are a limited number of slots. A reclusive French chef cooks a gastronomic feast that involves around 13 courses, from appetizers to desserts, made from the freshest available ingredients for P 350.00 per head. The result is a dinner experience like no other.
Food trips in Sagada also includes stops at the Yoghurt House for the homemade yogurt with banana, strawberry or granola toppings and the Sagada Lemon Pie House for a slice of the homemade pies that go best with coffee.
My most unforgettable Sagada memory is watching the breath-taking sunrise at Kiltepan, where the sun seemingly floats above a canopy of clouds, and you will feel like Sagada is that slice of heaven on Philippine soil. I have heard that the sunset at Lake Danum is equally stunning.
Next time that you visit the Philippines and have about one week to spare, explore Sagada and its wealth of wonders for an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime.
by Richard Diaz Alloro
by Richard Diaz Alloro
On Festivals and Thanksgiving
What I like about June in Sapporo, apart from the cool breeze, warm sunlight and fresh new green leaves, is the opportunity to go out, see places, meet people, and indulge with nature. In June, Sapporo starts to bask in sunshine and that means we can leave our houses in slippers, shorts and t-shirts! June gives us a permit to become more mobile and enjoy outdoor activities, such as festivals and merrymaking.
Just recently, I have participated or attended two festivals being held annually in Hokkaido University and in Sapporo - Hokudaisai and Yosakoi Soran Festival. The Hokkaido University International Food Festival or Hokudaisai is usually celebrated on the 1st week of June. This festival, which is organized and participated by students, aims to showcase the culinary delights of different countries around the world and to foster cooperation among nations through food and cultural exhibitions. The Yosakoi Soran festival on the other hand, is a merriment of dance and music which originated just a few years ago. The festival in Sapporo is now considered as one of the biggest in Japan and has become one of the most-looked forward events in the city.
Festivals are celebrated all over the world. From big cities all the way to far-flung provinces, may it be grand or meek, festivals never cease to entertain and gather people from all walks of life. In the Philippines, the entire year is filled with hundreds of events being held across the archipelago. The Sinulog Festival (Cebu) and Ati-atihan (Aklan) in January, Panagbenga (Baguio) in February, Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan (nationwide) in May, and Masskara Festival (Bacolod) in October, are among the seemed to be an endless array of celebrations and joyous happenings of some sort throughout the country. Festivals are usually characterized by parades and street dancing, banquet, religious rituals, cultural and sports events, and the promotion of the area’s finest.
Like in any other country, festivals in Japan or Philippines have special meanings. Some of these festivities originated hundreds of years ago and some may have been conceived just a few years ago. Some festivals were created to provide entertainment, some to celebrate victories, some to honor heroes and religious figures, some to promote geographical groups or social assembly, some to inform traditions and cultural heritage, some to rejoice good harvest or change of season, some to commemorate great historical events, and some just to raise income and make business. There are countless reasons as to why we celebrate festivals and make them very important parts of our national identities.
No matter when the birthdays of these celebrations were, nor what were the reasons of their conception, for me festivals have one thing in common and it goes beyond entertainment. Festivals are celebrations of life. These festivities are our way of expressing our existence and our channel of conveying our gratefulness to the one Superior Being who created us. Festivals are our offerings, our thanksgiving for the many beautiful and wonderful things we received. We celebrate good harvests, lights and colors, we rejoice the blooming of cherry blossoms and the lilacs, we commemorate Independence Day and the establishments of cities and towns, and we honor heroes and saints.
Life is a festival. You, me, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends, and everyone around us are carnivals of the world. We are created special and each one holds a very important piece of the puzzle we call our world. Go out, celebrate, enjoy life, and be a blessing to others.
As for me, I’m very thankful for the coming of June. I got connected to festivals and thanksgiving once again!