Up and Up and Up

 

Spending Valentine’s Day with them has become an annual thing since 2013 cuz we are pretty much a bunch of humans who are either perpetually single or in a long distance relationship. The majority belongs to the former, by the way.

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For this year, the batch decided to spend Valentine’s Day somewhere cold and where broken hearts go. Not that these descriptions have any correlation with the current state of our hearts, Sagada is just the place we all haven’t been to which does not require air transportation and we wanted to take advantage of the northeast monsoons before it officially leaves the country.

We left Manila in the evening of Thursday via CODA Lines and arrived in Sagada early in the morning the following day.  We were welcomed by the cool weather of Sagada as we walked our way to our lodging from the bus terminal after registering at the tourism office. Contrary to popular belief that Sagada is already full of people, the main avenue was surprisingly peaceful and it has maintained its rustic charm.

After freshening up0101, we were already famished and luckily, the main avenue is laden with restaurants all offering different specialties. We chose Salt and Pepper as its exterior looked like it was promising us good brunch and it didn’t disappoint, the native coffee sealed the deal.

Then we went straight to the tourism office (still along the main avenue) where we availed of a private van and a tour guide cuz we didn’t want to stress ourselves anymore and public transportation is not easy in Sagada, moreover, we didn’t have time to make a decent itinerary. Yes, excuses.

We went to Pongas falls instead of the usual Bomod-ok falls to get away with the crowd and we succeeded.

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We had the place to ourselves and the short trek was more than worth it.

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Continuing our adventure for that day, we went to Sumaguing Cave for spelunking, one of the most popular attractions in Sagada. Surprisingly though, there were only a few tourists on our trip down the cave.

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Going out was more challenging as we had to pull ourselves up and there was a flock of tourists already nonetheless, we had a good time and good cardio exercise inside cave. The stalactites and stalagmites formations  still amazed me as they remind me how something so unplanned can be so beautiful through time (literally).

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Another popular (but underrated) destination in Sagada is the Lake Danum. We were expecting a murky-ish water (thanks to Google Images) but we were surprised to see a brownish-orange lake since the water level was low during our visit. Not my analysis, just an explanation from Kuya Tarik. 🙂

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As Sagada is popularly known for its scenic sunrise, we never thought we can actually have a good view of the sunset just a few meters walk from the Lake, and may I add, it was drizzling that time.

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After the sun finally set, we went back to the now-unpopulated lake and caught the fog slowly crawled through the pine forest, all I can think of was pitching a tent and munching on smores while being cocooned in thick comforters. #LifeGoals

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Ended the day with a good early dinner at Lemon Pie House which I didn’t snap a photo of cause I was busy munching on my oh so good vegan dinner after all the activities we had for the day. We spent the rest of the night watching the finale episode of Pangako Sayo next to the warmth and aroma of the traditional fireplace, all excited for the sea of clouds the following day. #LifeGoalsAgain

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Having the natural inclination to stay away from the crowd, we intentionally missed Mt. Kiltepan and opted for another underrated spot, Kamanbaneng Peak and it was probably one of the best decisions we made in our lives as we had the place to ourselves. The place is not easily accessible like Kiltepan and it would require you a 30-45 minute-pabebe-trek but I swear it is more than worth it.

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It can get really chilly up there but there is a store at the peak where you can buy coffee from for added drama of the whole sunrise and sea of clouds watching.

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It was really lovely.

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(C) Mark San Miguel

We spent a total of 3 hours just ogling in the view until we felt our stomachs ached for a decent breakfast.

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We went for Gaia Café this time, the popular café in the movie That Thing Called Tadhana and it is normally packed with tourists but for some unknown reasons, we, again, had the place to ourselves. It is a vegan café seating in a cliff where you can admire the mountain ranges of the province.

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Since we were done with our imaginary Sagada checklist, we just had a chill day and visited the tourist spots in the Echo Valley Hills cluster but I didn’t went down to the hanging coffins.

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Kuya Tarik, our very supportive guide and Mark chilling in the rocks
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and here I am, struggling with my balance (C) Mark San Miguel

After our Echo Valley tour, we headed for our late lunch at the Yoghurt house and ordered the famous yoghurt with Banana, Granola and Strawberry Preserves.

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Living up to the chill day, we spent the rest of the day walking through the main avenue comparing prices of pasalubongs and oooh! The Sagada oranges are the best!

Dinner time and we had a by-the-fireplace pre-vday buffet reservation at Log Cabin and it probably was the healthiest buffet I had. We didn’t stay late because the titas have to leave Sagada early the next day. Say hi to my first plate!

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I am definitely coming back to eat more Sagada oranges and drink more mountain tea!! You are so lovely Sagada, I was wondering how they were able to keep its charm amidst the influx of tourists until I learned that only locals can own a piece of Sagada or else, Jollibee Sagada or SM Sagada would have been there by now.

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Whoever said that Valentine’s Day is for the couples just doesn’t have friends like mine but for the 4th time, sana hindi na tayo ang magkakasama next year 🙂

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