“Wow! How does one get there?” I asked my companion Norbs while pointing down on a parallel electric line post way down below. It seemed so far and unreachable from where we were at Kamanbaneng Peak or popularly named Marlboro Mountain. After enjoying a wonderful play of billowing clouds after the sunrise, we were set for a long trek southwards of Sagada. It was a beautiful day for a trek but the rains the day before had dampened the ground making it more sticky and on some parts muddy. But after a few hours, we found ourselves below the electric line I was pointing to earlier but standing on the curious hues of the Blue Soil Hills of Sagada.
I never get tired of Sagada. Even if go back to the same places I visited there again and again, even if there were hassles or inconveniences encountered going there, the allure never fades. On my recent trip to Sagada, I wanted to venture further and explore the “new” sites recently opened for exploration. My friends and I visited SAGGAS (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) office and was greeted by the jovial, Yaki. We were inquiring about a particular tour but curiosity led us to change plans seeing the map on their wall. We decided to head east then traverse southeast of Sagada going along the border of Alab down south. Our first stop is Kamanbaneng Peak, one of the alternative sunrise destination in Sagada.
While my first few travels revolved around the mountains, I must admit that I haven’t climbed a lot lately. When a good ol balikbayan (back to the country) climb buddy invited for a day-climb for the weekend at Mt Batolusong, I got curious. Where the heck is that mountain? I haven’t heard that before. A quick google search brought out some interesting photos of grasslands and a waterfall in the vicinity. Hey! Why not? It’s only in nearby Tanay and I get to catch up with a fellow alumni from my university. Saturday. 3am. I’m up for the climb.
It was the turn of the year and I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to be in a place where people don’t know me. I wanted to greet the first sunrise of the year in a new landscape. The past year was filled with mixed emotions, I was hoping that being away would bring things in a positive light and hopefully bring me back to the right direction. The first morning of 2014, I found myself already climbing the mountain slopes of Maligcong for Mt Kofafey under a starry night with my two companions who used to be just strangers a few days ago and now I’m entrusting my life to them.
More than 15 hours on the road can take a toll, especially if there are lulls in between and I wasn’t able to get enough sleep from that night bus. But on the final stretch on the road from Tabuk to Tinglayan, I kept my eyes peeled, trying to pave-off these drowsy eyes just to see the winding road along the mountains, the rice terraces, the Chico River and on my left, the imposing Sleeping Beauty Mountain looming over the rustic town of Tinglayan, Kalinga. We reached the town center and our drop-off, none other the Sleeping Beauty Inn, where we met with our tour guide and our home in Tinglayan.
It seems I’ve been going back to a lot of places lately. At least 6 years after, and more air traffic lately in NAIA (our flight was delayed for more than an hour) I found myself bound for Francisco Reyes Airport in Busuanga. A new airport, wide paved road (and watch our for passing cattle) and a more bustling little Coron Town were some of the notable changes. We checked in at Coron Eco Lodge found at the quiet side of Calle Real (check my review here). With our time cut short because of the flight delay, we chose to forego the regular “City Tour” and head directly Mt Tapyas for the sunset I was looking forward to shoot again.