Well they were strangers at first, but as our trip progressed we all became fast friends. Ours was a merry bunch of doctors and med reps, a programmer, and a 'writer' (yours truly!).
The only person I knew was Rollie Valenzuela, a fellow film (and digital) photographer whom I first met way back in 2007 through Lomomanila. Rollie and his girlfriend Ling invited their friends to join a Sagada tour group, and as the date coincided with the weekend right before my birthday, I decided to go. I've always wanted to go to Sagada, so I asked my family that in lieu of any material gifts, they could just add to my trip fund!
Before heading up to Sagada, we stopped over Baguio for an early breakfast (it was around 3am, I think) at Good Taste. It was my first time there. All these years I've been going up to Baguio and I never knew such a place existed. After Baguio we headed to Halsema Highway, the highest roadway in the country. We stopped at the highest point and waited for the sun to rise over Mt. Pulag. After that, it was straight on to Sagada.
We had early lunch at Yoghurt House then a short rest at Traveller's Inn before doing the highlight of our trip: Cave Connection! It's a six-hour trek underneath the mountains starting from Lumiang Cave and emerging out of Sumaging Cave. It was really an overwhelming and challenging experience--I still have sore muscles! A funny/interesting/annoying thing happened in the cave as well, but that story's better told in person (wink, wink).
After the underground cave trek we had our well-deserved dinner and rest. By 5am the following morning, we were on our way to catch the sun rise and the sea of clouds. Unfortunately, we were in a big cloud. Sea of fog, then. Oh well, there's always a next time, right? We went back to have breakfast and prepare for home (with a few touristy stopovers along the way). We dropped by the Bontoc terraces first and then Banaue, where we had a really, really slow lunch.
The trip home took quite longer than we expected, and I ended up celebrating the first hour of my birthday on the road. Yay!
There are still a lot of places we didn't get to explore around Sagada--I will definitely be back to see them! Anyway, on to the photos! I grabbed these from Yoh, Kat, and Rollie. As usual, my film shots will have to wait. :)
before doing the cave connection
we're still smiling! here we are with 'the queen'
who wants to ride with me?
a little help
to the batcave!
good (foggy) morning!
yoghurt's a big thing in Sagada...
with Ling and Kuya Edmond (? I'm sorry I'm bad with names) of vagabondpinas :)
of course I took Miss Igorota along for a homecoming! (note the crocodile)
a little bit nervous
sunrise with Mt. Pulag behind me, at the highest point of the Philippine highway system
my breakfast of yoghurt pancake, scrambled eggs, and a slice of bread
we didn't use the monopod in the cave--it was easier to move around with our hands free.
gas lamps served as our light source inside the cave
my trusty sandals, or the (un)lucky pair
Ling climbing down a slippery pile of rocks
Rollie & Ling!
excuse my feet, but I was really glad they did so well in the cave :)
I had an awesome time.
Much as I would have wanted to sleep in on my birthday, I had to go to work. Oh well. It was good that I went to work though, because I was given a birthday cake! We ate the cake at home. :)
My maternal grandmother always makes birthday posters for everyone. I think I got my crafty skills from her! I'm holding the Tous les Jours chocolate cake from the office.
My mom and my niece!
five candles for a big high-five!
We also had a really fat Brazo de Mercedes cake.
Big thanks to my family and friends--everyone--and of course, to the One up there, for making this all happen :)