Sagada, Where My Heart Lives
Blessed by nature, Sagada has developed itself into one of the ultimate must-visit destinations for both local and foreign tourists. Nestled atop the grand Cordillera range, shrouded by the mountain mist, this quaint little town easily satisfies the insatiable appetite of sight and thrill-seekers alike as it offers an array of scenery and activities.
For these reasons, Sagada has long piqued my curiosity. Ironically enough, although I trace my roots here and I live about an hour from it, I have never once took the time to explore its nooks and crannies. Both my father and mother have Sagadan blood running on their veins. So when the opportunity arose, through the effort of a fellow Sagadan who has also never visited her hometown, I immediately booked that ticket. And man, never for once will I ever regret booking that ticket!
Sagada is a landlocked municipality in Mountain Province in the heart of the Cordilleran range. It is bordered by the capital town of Bontoc on the east, Sabangan and Bauko on the south, Besao on the west and Tubo, Abra on the the north. It is divided into 19 barangays with a total population of 11,244 as of May 2010 census.
With an area of 83.3 square kilometers, it is slightly bigger than the City of Baguio though Sagada’s vegetation is denser and more lush, providing a breezier alternative to the country’s Summer Capital. Just like Baguio, Sagada is situated at an elevation of 5,000 meters above sea level, with temperatures going below to single digits at some points in the year.
It’s populace is composed mostly of Applais (northern Kankana-eys). Kankana-ey is the main language, though Ilocano is also prevalent among the natives because of the proximity of the Ilocos region. Though the tourism industry is on the boom, Sagadans still heavily rely on agriculture to earn a living.
(Photo by Wikipedia and Google) Sagada has long been a noted mountain retreat, having been featured already on a couple of documentaries and travel magazines. However, the sheer effort it takes to reach it has presented a major challenge to interested travelers. The roads are mostly dusty, bumpy and rough. But now, the roads leading to Sagada have been cemented, a far cry from what it was about 10 years ago.
Though the traveling has now become more efficient and travel friendly, Sagada remained largely untouched until it was put into national spotlight because of the movie That Thing Called Tadhana with the tag “Where do broken hearts go?”. The movie interposes that broken hearts go to Sagada, especially to witness the Kiltepan sunrise and the rolling clouds, where they can shout all their heart’s grief from the mountain.
Angelica Panganiban’s famous scene left so much to desire for that tourist started flocking Sagada to witness the renowned Kiltepan sunrise and sea of clouds. Social media started going abuzz as it was being flooded with photos of travelers crowding the Kiltepan viewpoint. Although Sagada has always been a popular tourist town pre-Tadhana, the impact of the movie is undeniable as Sagada remains on the top of the bucket list of most millenials, and for the not-so-millenials.
How To Get There
Located 275 kilometers (171 miles) north of Manila, Sagada can be reached in 12 to 14 hours either through Baguio or Banaue.
- Via Baguio – From Manila, one can ride any Baguio bound bus such as Victory Liner or Genesis Bus. Victory Liner has terminals in Cubao, Pasay, and Caloocan and runs trips for 24-hours. Ticket costs PHP 460.00 while travel time to Baguio is roughly around six (6) to seven (7) hours.
From Baguio, one has to take the GL Liner Bus in Dangwa Station, behind Center Mall. Buses leave every hour from 6:30 AM to 10:30 AM. Travel time is also around six (6) hours and ticket costs PHP 220.00.
- Via Banaue – Lately, Coda Lines opened direct trips from Quezon City to Sagada. One way ticket costs PHP 720.00. The terminal of Coda Lines is behind Trinity University of Asia, on Saint Andrew’s Seminary along E. Rodriguez Avenue. Buses leave at 9 PM daily and the trip takes around 12 to 13 hours. Update: Coda Lines terminal has been moved to HM Transport Terminal in Cubao.
For advance reservation, you can contact them at (0927) 559 2197 or (0936) 971 9216. You can also check their FB Page and website for more information. Return trips to Quezon City is scheduled at 3 PM daily.
Where to Stay
Over the years, the influx of travelers saw the rise of the lodging industry in Sagada. Annually, a lot of inns and lodges are being being built and opened. Below are some of the more established inns and lodges:
- Misty Lodge and Cafe – Contact number +63926123518. For more information, check their Facebook page.
- Kanip-aw Pines Lodge – Contact number +639282897507
- St. Joseph Resthouse – Contact numbers +639289517153, +639106478223, +639262574861
- Sagada Guesthouse – Contact numbers +639059991044, +639287196489. Facebook page.
- Ganduyan Inn & Cafe – Contact numbers +639212738097, +639274340212
- Mapia-aw Pension – Contact numbers +639052164055, +639999666164
- Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant – Contact number +639183416164
- George Guest House – Contact numbers +639185480406, +639209483133 +639206070994, +639399020996
- Gecko Inn & Cafe – Contact numbers+639202895471, +639484559323
- Churya-a Hotel Annex – Contact Numbers +639274496779, +639064300853, +639215331030
If one is tired of the commercial ambiance offered by hotels and lodges, one can try homestays. The advent of the tourism industry also saw the marked increase in the number of residents opening their homes and converting it into homestays that cater to local and international travelers alike. Homestays aim to provide more homey feeling, a far cry from the artifice of hotels and lodges.
One such homestay is Kenlopsik Homestays Sagada which is located within walking distance of the town center. Opened in March 2015, it is owned and managed by a friend offering comfortable accommodation to those seeking reprieve from the tedious urban life.
True to form, Kenlopsik is your home away from home in Sagada, offering free flowing coffee and lemon grass tea. Aside from lemon tea, they also serve lavender and mint teas. Occupants can handpick the lavender and mint from the herbal garden. Upon request, they serve the native chicken delicacy “pinikpikan” and its pork counterpart, the “etag” or salted smoked meat.
Kenlopsik offers a comparable room rate of PHP 300.00 per person for a three (3) to four (4) room. For a room good for one (1) to two (2) persons, room rate is PHP 400.00 per person. It also provides hot showers to counter the cold climate. A WiFi ensures that its occupants are still connected.
You can contact Kenlopsik Transients Sagada at +639154805856 or +63929-955-6480. You can also check their Facebook page for more information.
Part I Sagada, Where My Heart Lives
Part II Surviving Spelunking Sagada
Part III Sagada: That Sea of Clouds
Part IV Sagada: Chasing Waterfalls and Terraces
Part V (SSS) Soul Searching Sagada
Part VI That Sagada Splendor