It’s the 3rd year for Jim Cline’s Photo Tour in the Philippines headed by none other than Karl Grobl himself. I was told that they were quite surprised that the tour filled up unexpectedly. I guess many foreigners are really interested in the Philippines lately. We had a full house this time. A French, an Australian, a few from England and the rest from the USA. Their 2-week journey in the Philippines started the first week of June. I stepped in at the 4th of June to for a 6-day guiding and photography assistance to 10 enthusiastic participants while exploring the historic streets of Ilocos and the breathtaking landscapes of Sagada, Mountain Province.
For the past 8 years or so, I’ve been going in and out of Sagada, Mountain Province since I first went there on a solo trip back 2004. It has been a place of solitude, wonder and invigoration. I’ve brought people there, friends and foreign photographers. Enjoyed the food and the scenery. But throughout the years, I’ve noticed the somewhat subtle changes happening as Sagada becomes really popular. My recent trip somehow made these changes more prevalent than ever in a negative way. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Sagada, I’m sure long time readers would know how I would wax poetic about the place. But I write these Sagada Warnings and Annoyances not to dissuade people from coming, but for them to know what to expect, especially during the peak seasons.
My carabiner thermometer was playing at a temperature of 17 and 18 degrees centigrade. The wind chill made it felt colder while I stand there on a rock at the viewpoint. It’s 4:45am on what seems to the edge of the Earth or how I imagined it to be. Waking up as early as 3:30am to hike the hill for Kiltepan Sunrise is something I don’t do everyday. Right now the view of the valley is blanketed with a thick fog with the moonshine setting behind us, only the outline of the pine trees sway like a dancing shadow at this hour were our companions.
I followed a man carrying a bundle of wood the locals call Saleng, a part of a pine trunk which easily ignites when lit. There were already a parade of people making their way to the local cemetery on the afternoon of All Saint’s Day in Sagada. When we reached the cemetery ground, the smoke-filled air and the grounds that looks like they were burning greeted us. It was one of the unique traditions in the mountain province I have first seen 7 years ago. They call the practice Panag-apoy which means to “light a fire”.
I was thinking about what to write on my 1000th post and I was caught in a wind. Should I write something momentous and grand? Or something spectacular like listing down all the site achievements since it started? I wasn’t sure, really, so I’m just gonna write about the 3 questions I asked on my 1000th Post Giveaway to give not only the answers but a quick overview of this blog’s history.
Finding myself back in Sagada just after at least a month of being there just shows how much I like the place. But my recent visit was all about rest and relaxation. No marked to do list and just see where it goes. Even so, it was a very interesting 3 days spent. A unique encounter with the cows at Lake Danum, some unexplored falls and an easy stroll downtown. Here’s just a recap of those days.