“Where are you girls going?” we asked curiously as three girls young girls, ages ranging from 10–12 were going down a trail almost unnoticeable from the dense vegetation just below the famed. “Down to check on our goats by the cave?” one said. A cave? I thought for a moment and probably she was referring to the Sagada Underground River Cave found deep into the valley. “Let’s follow them!” My newfound towering Russian companion excitedly suggested our group. In the many times I have visited Sagada, I don’t remember having visited the cave before so we just followed the young girl’s footsteps.
The Cordilleras have many charming towns and villages nestled along hilly slopes high up the mountains amidst verdant forests. I simply enjoy just riding a public bus in the north, the ordinary non-airconditioned ones as the air passing through the window is fresh and cool enough for comfort. Often than not, country music blares through the speakers. As some Dolly Parton or Garth Brooks belt out some narrative tunes, I marvel at the passing scenery on the winding mountain road. Houses by the ridges, rice terraces, mountain gradients, and the thin mist or passing clouds lingering until they dissipate early in the morning. I am heading back to Maligcong, a village in Bontoc that’s slowly getting some curious look from Sagada and Banaue-bound travellers. Aside from being a side-trip, they are beginning to be a destination of their own. Here’s a few good reason why you should visit Maligcong now.
When in Sagada, I usually try to stay at lodgings just at the outskirts of town. I stayed several times within town before and while I like the convenience, it can be a little noisy at times. That’s why I enjoy places like Rock Inn or Ybami because of the pleasant natural ambiance and closer to nature environment. My last visit to Sagada though found me staying in town again but I was glad to find Kanip-aw Pines Lodge this time. It’s one of the lodgings that has that secluded feel even just a short walk from the main south road.
I remember spending my first sunrise of the year 2014 on top of Mt Kofafey. Basking in the view of a sea of clouds unraveling before my eyes to reveal the Maligcong Rice Terraces below was just a magical moment that opened up the year. I knew someday I promise to be back. A few months later I kept my promise. This time I brought along my friends with me see this destination in Cordilleras I have been raving about. And also to see the Maligcong Rice Terraces in its evergreen state.
“He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary”
This week’s Nikon Shot is from my new favorite place in Sagada, the Kamanbaneng Peak or popularly known as the Marlboro Mountain. I like this mountain so much I returned here again for the 2nd time last week after my first visit just a couple of months ago. This time we found an awesome vantage point overlooking the valley and with the Alab-Sagada border peak showing its height. I call this Nikon Shot “Up High Staring at the Sun” with our friend Mike looking straight into the sun.
I’ve seldom talked about how Sagada has changed throughout the years. Yes, the roads have been paved for better access, more tourist are coming in, internet connectivity is just about everywhere and more structures being built to accommodate them. Despite the developments, Sagada’s is still rooted to their traditional cultural practices. One of this significant rituals is the Begnas, a rice thanksgiving ritual that usually happens three times a year. We were lucky to be there to witness their pre-planting ritual. It was a three-day event and the 2nd day was the time when the “Indians March”.
“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.