I’m a bit unsure if it’s redundant to call Sagada an unspoiled paradise; a paradise is supposed to be unspoiled. Anyway, just like Piolo and Juday (as narrated by Aileen =), we consider Sagada a paradise (even if my wife lost her pants, and that’s not a figure of speech, at the place where we were staying).
The treacherous, zigzagging and rough roads (at least between Banaue and Sagada) would make you think twice in bringing your own car. You could reach Sagada through a 7-hour bus ride from Baguio City (in addition to the 6-hour trip from Manila). We took the other route, the 10-hour bus ride directly through Banaue, because we want to see one of the Wonders of the World — the Banaue Rice Terraces.
There’s a bus station near U.S.T. along Espana. If you take the 9 p.m. trip, you’ll get to Banaue at around sunrise, perfect for viewing the rice terraces. There are vans for hire waiting at the bus station, so you’d be able to save when you’re travelling as a group. You could ask the van driver to pick you up on your return journey at a designated time and place.
No trip to Sagada is complete without trekking, or crawling, down the Sumaging Cave, the most popular and beautiful among the Sagada caves. You have to register at the town hall and you’ll be assigned (or choose) a guide. The guides will tell you where to step and what to look out for, something which you’ll be thankful when staring down the dark abyss.
It’s a different experience, not knowing if you’ll end up at the other side of the earth should your feet slip and you come tumbling down. Trust me, you’ll need a guide for the spellunking adventure. Even Spiderman would need a guide in there.
The beauty of Sumaguing Cave lies halfway, past the slippery boulders and bat guano. The best part, of course, is reserved at the end of the journey, where you could actually take a dip — if you could stand the cold — in the crystal-clear spring water. Verily, just like life, you have to go through hell to reach heaven.
The rest of the sights — the hanging coffins, the yoghurt house, the church and cemetery — are within a walking distance from St. Joseph Resthouse where we stayed. Each unit is not big, but cozy. The shower room has a water heater, a device which we often take for granted, but, out there in the cold Sagada mornings, spells the difference between life and, well, life that stinks, literally, that is. There’s also a balcony where you could relax and reflect on how beautiful a simple life is.
Each Pinoy should really experience the beauty of the place, if only that’s possible. However, the great distance, the rough roads and the stretches of cliffs appear to have been designed by the Creator to ensure that Sagada remains unspoiled . . . hopefully for a much longer time.