“I think we missed our turn somewhere” I exclaimed. We were already going downwards on an unfamiliar paved road. It was cold but it’s getting darker under the fog laden surroundings going deep in the afternoon. I checked my map on my mobile phone and that small triangular shape with the label of Lake Danum was already behind us for some meters already. We tracked back and thought how the hell we got lost. I guess the paved road confused us or how the fog had hidden the view from our eyes. I’ve been here before but it seems I’m visiting it for the first time.
It was an unusual welcome that after a few meters walk from the Sagada main road down the scenic rocky pathways lined by trees, the first creature that welcomed us in Rock Inn were dogs. Not that I’m complaining but it was quite amusing to find them wagging their tails upon oue arrival instead of barking. Do they still remember me from my last visit a month ago with Karl Grobl and his group? That certainly seems to be the case. I’ve always thought that places who loves animals whether be a dog or cat or any other pets, are ran by really friendly folks. Hey if they can take care of their pets well, I think it would be the same for their guests.
It’s not often we get an international Photo Tour to come here in the Philippines unlike our competing South East Asian neighbours, that’s why it’s a welcome development that the Jim Cline Photo Tours and Workshops decided to test the waters here in the Philippines where no other Photo Tour Groups have tried. On the helm is Humanitarian Photojournalist Karl Grobl where he took the group on key places around the country for a Photographic journey for two weeks. I assisted Karl on the photo mentorship and was their local guide for their Baguio-Sagada-Vigan leg of the tour which lasted for 5 days. Here’s a rundown of that very interesting segment.
Much has been written about Sagada already so I won’t go repeating much than to update some of the old photos I took of the place. For those who have endured the hours of travel to get to this fascinating mountain town, I found it rare that people won’t be enamored with its old-world feel, lush surroundings, cool clime, great food and especially interesting people. I’m actually grateful Karl Grobl decided to include Sagada in their itinerary since the Cordilleras really shows how rich and unique our culture is beyond the beaches we are known for.
“Okay! Enough with the chicken!” I hear someone from my back say as the two boys continue to batter the poor live chicken in front of me. It’s not really an eye candy to see a chicken getting battered lightly to death nor music to hear the pounding and the moans just to get the best tasting chicken soup one could have. The people in Cordilleras call it the Pinikpikan Chicken, a chicken-stew done Igorot-style. For some who have tasted it like myself, the broth is really flavorful and is a far cry from the regular tinola (stew). But of course the process of preparing the chicken is not easy for everyone to see.
The Photo Tour group only has a full day to go around Sagada. While I think that’s a short time to really appreciate the place, it is still possible to see some key sites in Sagada. If you were to ask me which places to see when in Sagada for a day, the Sagada Hanging Coffins and the Burial Caves would be on top since that is the heart of the culture of Sagada. While this funeral rite is not unique in the Philippines as there are other indigenous people from China and Indonesia who also hang their coffins by the cliffs, Sagada is the only place where you one could see these Hanging Coffins in the Philippines.
I was amused when I saw this dog from Rock Inn, the place where we were staying, running in front of our jeep as we rode up the dirt road towards the Kiltepan Viewpoint. He was panting heavily with his tongue ridiculously hanging from his wide open mouth when we got there but I thought it was really nice to have a dog as a personal escort. It was already bright when reached the viewpoint and I saw the dog continue on to the cliff-side of the peak where a few people were already waiting for the sunrise. He soon sandwiched himself in between a couple as they waited for the sun to reveal itself behind the mountains.