Sagada's new Municipal Hall Construction

Sagada’s new Municipal Hall Construction

Some people may ask why I feature destinations abroad whereas the Philippines has a lot of tourists attractions that can rival other countries as well. Why not promote what’s ours? It’s true that we have a number of world-class attractions that we can be proud of. But venturing outside our own country also gives us a wider perspective and see more potential in our country beyond our myopic vision when we are stuck here. We see practices and conditions which can help both our thriving local tourism industry as well. Our visit to Sagada recently was prompted by our recent visit to Sapa, Vietnam. These two places are quite similar with the later being more sophisticated, engulfed by modernization which had us worried about the present condition of our beloved Sagada.

Sagada Rice Grains

St Joseph’s Rest House Rice Grains

Traveling to Sagada
is a butt-numbing journey spanning more than 12 hours of land trip. It’s an arduous journey but clearly has it’s rewards. On one thought I think this long journey and hard accessibility is also a boon to the place since development will catch up a little later at the place. Coming from Manila to Baguio then hopping on a Bus going to Bontoc to check out the Museum there than an hour more of journey finally got us at the footsteps of St Joseph’s Resthouse where we lodged when we were in Sagada.

Sagada Masfere

Sagada Masfere Restaurant

Since it was an off-peak season and with a category 4 storm looming, I’m sure most people wouldn’t risk going here at this time, making Sagada a lot less crowded when we were there. The sun was shining when we were there with only occasional rain showers in the afternoon. So far so good nothing much has changed except for a large construction in the middle of the town center. We wondered what this was and was worried some big hotel or a commercial center being set up here. A staff from St Jo’s told us that it was a new Municipal Hall being re-built. I say re-built since originally the first Municipal Hall was placed there before it was burned to the ground last 1975. Now the new Mayor is rebuilding it there.

Sagada Agayo Store Kids

Sagada Agayo Store Kids

Roads has greatly improved. Last time I was here, probably more than a couple of years ago, the road from Masfere Restaurant going down south where the Sumaguing Cave can be found wasn’t paved. It was always dusty and rocky and when rain comes, it’s a muddy walk. Roads are now well paved making it a lot easier to walk down or up this sloping road. Even local kids are clearly enjoying this while they take their scooters and rides up the upper road to slide down.

Sagada Child Peeling a fruit

Sagada Child Peeling a fruit

Speaking of kids, they are as friendly as ever. Unlike the ones in Batad which I already find too touristy already due to the locals asking for money whenever you pass by them, or even a photograph. They still live a simple rural life. I was just surprised by this one little kid who was peeling a fruit with a sharp knife. She’s just a little girl and I’m quite surprised she’s handling a sharp object she could be injured with.

Sagada St Jo's Flower

St. Joseph’s rich flaura still thrives

Nights are still quiet in Sagada. Deafening quiet. They still have their regular curfew of not allowing minors to venture outside way past 9pm. Most locals also prefer to stay indoors at that time. I guess with added entertainment options like Satellite TVs, DVD movies, computer games and internet access most locals are more pre-occupied in the evenings at their homes.

St Mary's Church under the moon light

St Mary’s Church under the moon light

It’s still cold at night as we felt while we were outside shooting St Mary’s Church under the moon light, way way past the curfew time. There are watchers at night as we found out as well. They are quite lenient with people as long as you don’t have any bad intentions to roam around at night.

Sagada Tourist Center

Sagada Tourist Center

Sagada hasn’t change much which is good and I’m glad it didn’t. I guess my fears of it being as close to Sapa’s town have to wait several more years ahead. If you by chance visit Sagada, don’t forget to register at the tourist center. It helps them document visitors and with a little fee, also helps to the town’s maintainance. Very useful information could also be found there like listed below:

Sagada Transpo hire/fare from Municipal Hall to the following sights:

  • big cave (sumaging) 1 way – php 250/waiting – php 400
  • cave connection – lumiang burial cave 1 way – php 200/waiting – php 250
  • big falls via bangaan 1 way – php 400/waiting php 550 / via agud 1 way – php 550/waiting – php 700
  • kiltepan tower junction 1 way – php 250
  • bokong falls 1 way – php 250/waiting – php 250
  • lake danum – php 500
  • echo valley – php 100
  • mt. ampacao base – php 250
  • one day tour – php 1,800

Sagada standard guide rates:

  • CAVE CONNECTION – (1 – 2 pax) php 800 • (3 pax) php 1,200 • (4 or more pax) php 400/pax
  • CAVING – (1 – 4 pax) php 400 • (5 pax) php 500 • (6 – 9 pax) php 800 • (10 pax) php 900 • (11 – 14 pax) php 1,200
  • TREKKING/BIG FALLS OR MT. AMPACAO -(1 – 10 pax) php 600 • (11 – 15 pax) php 800 • (16 – 20 pax) php 1,200
  • TREKKING MT. POLIS – (1 – 10 pax) php 1,200 • (11 – 15 pax) php 1,500
  • SIGHTSEEING(3 sights) – (1 – 10 pax) php 400 • (11 – 15 pax) php 600 • (16 – 20 pax) php 800 (choose from any of the ff. spots: lumiang burial caves, kiltepan viewpoint, echo valley, bokong falls, underground river, lake danum)
  • ESCORT – sugong hanging coffins and burial cave – php 200
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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

22 Responses to “Checking up on Sagada”

  1. great takes, wulfriend. it’s an eye-opener for a lot of folks out there who would otherwise be deterred by the long trip.
    on the other hand, it’s the long journey that makes the trip special and also a deterrent for over-commercialism.

  2. it’s good to know that kids here are still friendly and not touristy. it is sometimes disturbing when we see children begging. it’s also good to know that there’s a curfew for children. it’s also good to know that roads are better now. thank you for the update ferdz. plus the tourist info will surely be helpful.

  3. I love that you mix your postings from overseas to domestic. You have done plenty in pushing the tourism industry in our country to the forefront by having this blog. I should hope you find out of the way, totally untouristy locale to showcase next.

  4. Thanks Carlotta! It’s a 4 minutes bulb exposure. We were hoping to capture the night stars as well but it was cloudy that night.

    I’m actually glad Oggie that it’s hard to visit this place. It only rewards people who are patient enough to endure the long ride.

    That’s what I was a bit disappointed about in Batad last I went there, Dom. People asking for money! That’s why I would rather suggest people to visit farther vllages like Cambulo.

    Yep, You’re right Barok!

    Thanks Photo Cache, I try to mix and alternate them frequently as not to bore readers on a series on monotonous posts on a destination. I know I get bored with that myself. Expect more off-the-beaten track destinations before the year ends. There are a couple of major trips up coming that’s really exciting.

    Thanks Eds! We saw this just outside their canteent, drying under the sun.

    I do hope you find it useful on your planning when you visit sagada Oman.

  5. butt-numbing? hehe, onga no?! your photos speak well of the place, Ferdz. i’ve been to Sagada in 2006 but I long to comeback soon. it’s a real get-away place for me. yung photo mo ng “Child peeling a fruit” speaks well of the people from the North…paloob sila magbalat ng prutas. may isang taga-Norte kase na nagpuna sa akin dati ng paraan ko ng pagbabalat, kaming mga Tagalog daw palabas magbalat. I love yoru compositions on the flowers and the rice grains. Effective use of DOF and angle.

    I’ve never been to that many countries to conclude anything yet. But everytime I go home from a long travel abroad I always end up with that one great and constant realization: The Philippines is still the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Call it biased, maybe I am. I should. I’ve always been. But there’s this certain tendency to compare. Anyways, thanks for featuring the best places this country has to offer. People are discovering more because this blog.

  6. I’ve never been to Sagada and I hope to visit the place next summer. I want to go to many places within the Philippines. Unfortunately, I go home once a year or once every two years.

    With regard to traveling abroad – for me, it’s a very enriching experience to visit other countries, mingle with their locals and learn about their culture. I am glad that I had the oppurtunity to visit different places in Asia, US and Europe.

  7. Well… I wonder sometimes if we should promote tourism….

    “I am leaving the town to the invaders: increasingly numerous, mediocre, dirty, badly behaved, shameless tourists.”
    -Brigitte Bardot-

    Wonderful pictures…

  8. Really Rayts! Di ko napansin yung behaviour na yun ah about food peeling. I also agree that the Philippines is a beautiful country too, it’s that I really appreciate it more somehow when I’m away from it and seeing other countries as well.

    It’s true Nina! I haven’t had the pleasure of traveling to US or Europe yet but from where I’ve been, it’s truly an enriching experience.

    That thought crossed my mind as well Sidney. Sometimes I wonder if I ever stumble upon a beautiful place, I should keep it to myself but that’s also being sefish. The popularity of Anawangin somehow irked me a bit and I feel responsible somehow on what happened to it now.

  9. Sa tingin ko hindi magbabago masyado ang Sagada soon, kahit pa lumakas ang tourism. Basta wag lang sana dumami population dun kasi baka mangyari yung tulad dito sa Baguio. Very unlikely naman mangyari yun, pero sa tingin ko mas dependent pa rin sa residents ang change, rather than the tourists. Ang karamihan ng development naman mainly ay para sa mga taga dun, at sa tingin ko yun talaga ang magtratransform sa lugar. Tourism lang ang nagaaccelerate ng development.

  10. Thanks Kyels!

    You have a point there Redge. Tama ka, I guess over population brought out what Baguio is now. I guess the developments in Sagada is for the sake of the locals din as well.

    Thanks Shoshona, it’s a macro shot on wide open aperture to blur the background.

    Thanks Sagada Igorot. It’s one of my favorite place in our country so I’ll never tire of it.

    Ei Benj, whose fan? hehehe

  11. This guy (Ian Castanares – We talked briefly about travel blogging (he wanted to start one himself) and he told me that he his favorite travel blog was Ironwulf! Syempre ako naman feeling close sabi ko,”ah ganun ba, sige iintroduce kita next time”. LOLOLOLOL

    He’s a great photographer din – im talking him into starting his blog/s.

  12. ice mendoza

    Hi, galing ng mga pix mo 🙂 i wanna go na din to sagada..hehe. Am especially interested sa hanging coffins. Can you give me tips on how to plan going to sagada? 🙂 (e.g., where to stay, budget for 5 persons, etc.) Thanks!

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