If you feel that you are exhausted, drained, brokenhearted and soon to make a tough decision in your life, stop, take a break and visit Sagada in Mountain Province.
It was my 24th birthday last week and I feel that I want to breathe some fresh air. I want to stop and dig deeper. I want to unleash the monster and the angel inside of me. Unfortunately, I can’t unleash it in Manila, because traffic and pollution itself will block your inner eye. I filed an immediate birthday leave (sorry for that Doc Ian), and asked Rexell to accompany me in searching the missing pieces of Mutya.
There was no plan, therefore, no budget. I have a couple of thousands in my wallet but it did not hinder us to pursue Sagada. Here’s the story.
First, we purchased junk foods and 2 litres of mineral water. Rexell told me that food and water are expensive in Baguio and Sagada. The list includes: Nutristar, Piatos, Nova, Wilkins (2 litres), Vegetable Chips, Chips Ahoy and Nips. I hoped it will reach Sagada or even, optimistically, half of route going to Baguio.
We rode a bus going to Cubao Terminal. It was challenging because the Victory Liner terminal is quite difficult to search for first timers. We thought that the terminal is located inside the Araneta Complex. Our assumptions failed. We walked for almost 20 minutes, until we found the terminal, hiding under the billboard of Sara Geronimo.
We knew that the best time to leave Manila for Baguio is 10PM, but there was a bus leaving for 9PM. We grabbed the tickets for 450 pesos each with the assumption that bus will leave 10PM for sure. Filipino time will take effect. However, Victory Liner surprised us; it left Manila 9PM sharp. In God’s grace, I was able to buy in a nearby store, a couple of pork adobo rice toppings. Before I forget, always bring a thick jacket to combat the very cold air-conditioning system of the bus.
We reached Baguio at around 4AM. As expected, half of our food failed to reach its desired destination. Chilling, we went inside the Victory Liner terminal. The guard told us to wait until 6AM—the first trip going to Sagada. We ate 2 cups of hot noodles. After we gain the confidence from the hot noodles, we disobeyed the concerned guard; we went outside, took a taxi and went to Sagada terminal.
Seeing no bus in the area, we went inside a 24 hour store and ate our favourite Bulalo.
The guard was wrong. The first trip going to Sagada is 5:30AM. The bus was full of passengers, majority are locals of Besau and Sagada. We occupied the second to the last row. When going to Sagada, occupy the front rows, left side of driver. One reason is for the captivating views and second, if you want to urinate you can immediately go down.
Speaking of urinating, it is best to unload your bladder before the bus leaves. It will be a terrible feeling, (like what I experienced), my urinary bladder was fully distended. I was actively waiting for the bus to reach its first stop.
“Kuya, malayo pa ba ang bus stop?”, I asked a millionth times.
The first bus stop is 3 hours from Baguio. Passengers immediately raced towards the comfort room and a small canteen. I recommend you to eat the delicious siomai here. It will only cost you 27 pesos for 4 pieces. It is one of the best siomai, I ever tasted. You can also take some selfies while waiting for other passengers.
There were two bus stops. I did not notice the second because I fell asleep. It takes 6 hours of circling roads with 360 blind turns, majestic view of the mountain province, green and relaxing rice terraces and the caress of cold and caring fresh wind.
We reached the town proper of Sagada at around 2PM. We registered our names in their tourist assistance office. They gave us a short brief and a one pager map where you can see the available accommodations, restaurants, tourist attractions and emergency numbers.
We chose the lodge Abaret, a beautiful and comfortable inn, just a 5 minute walk from the market, police office and the tourist center. We got a room for two, for only 700 pesos/day. The room is fully furnished, clean, with its own comfort room, my favourite—the balcony, overlooking the green and soul captivating imagery painted by low lying clouds, blooming flowers , green and proud pine trees and sound of chirping birds, welcoming your presence in their pride land—SAGADA.
Like life, most of the time, we are preoccupied by expensive things, to the point that we become individuals swallowed by the desire to have it all. By doing so, we loss the essence of life that lies in the simplistic beauty of things. In the city, our eyes are clouded not by cottony clouds but with the blinking new materials in the market, new bars, new restaurants, new toys, boys and women.
Before I loss wakefulness, I stared at the window, looking at the mountains. I whispered “Thank you.”before I completely fell asleep.
(to be continued)