Tuesday, July 29

Sagada: Love At First Sight

For miles and miles I could only see sloping mountain peaks and lush, rolling valleys.  Though it would have been better if I have visited Sagada during summer, when the greens are in full bloom, I did not regret taking in her fresh air in the cold, rainy days of a rather uneventful July.  But my four-day stay in Sagada changed that notion, and my perspective on life in general.

It was an unplanned trip.  But a very much needed trip nonetheless.  I was anxious a few days before my departure for I was unsure if my filed leaves will be approved.  But lo and behold, the stars and moon agreed with me and I found myself pondering how the hours seemed to pass by quickly.

With my red backpack in tow, I hurriedly went straight to the Victory Liner Cubao terminal and was able to board the 10 PM bus for Baguio.  Front seat (no.1).  It was surreal.  I was on my way to Sagada and nothing will hinder me.  Even the rains did not stop me from chasing her.

Waiting for dawn
I guess the bus I rode in had wings like that of an angel's since we promptly arrived in the City of Pines at around past three in the morning.  I paid a still-sleepy Journeying Pinay a visit at the Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay before heading on to Dangwa terminal to catch the first bus bound for Sagada.  For 60 pesos, I had my simple, filling breakfast in a nearby restaurant causing me to be energized.  I was ready to face the long zig-zagging roads ahead.

220 pesos and at seat no. 10 later, I was sad for I have not been assigned a window seat.  But it did not really matter as it was raining during the first half of my journey.  I truly admired the driver as his expertise was showing.  I was actually tempted to ask him if he could drive on those sleek roads with his eyes closed.  

After three bus stopovers and six hours on my watch, we arrived at half past noon but it could have passed as 8 in the morning.  The gentle cool wind from the Sagadian mountains was the first to greet me hello.  I answered back with a soft smile as I wound my way to Residential Lodge down South Street. 

Tita Mary Daoas, owner of Residential Lodge, welcomed me as if I have been already been a come-backing visitor.  She showed me to my room and voluntarily advised me what I can do in Sagada. I rest a bit after arranging my things.   Ten minutes later, she came back knocking and introduced me to another solo traveler. RJ's arrival was in good timing as I had someone to split the bills in my guided trips. 

I stole a quick shower and met my new friend at the common area.  We ate lunch at the famous Yoghurt House and ordered what our tummies wanted.  I ordered Java Chicken with Rice (P 190) and Mango Lassie (P 99).  The latter I got so addicted to that I ordered one everyday I was there.  :-)
Java Chicken with Rice @ Yoghurt House
RJ and I exchanged the normal things new friends share to each other.  What we do in life, what we were doing in Sagada alone and the like.  After feeling completely filled, he and I decided to be adventurers that afternoon as we trekked to the mission compound and admired the charming church.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
After exploring the deserted church, my new friend needed to go back to do some personal business.  I was left alone for a while but it gave me the much needed me time as I took in the raw beauty of Sagada.  I took the liberty of doing selfies and savor the beauty of nature around me.  
Sagada Cemetery
RJ came back a little later.  We continued on our own adventure as we tried to figure out how to go down Echo Valley.  We did not want to hire a guide as we felt we were adventurers lost in the woods.  However, dusk was beginning to eat up our time so we asked a local passing by how we can go down there.  The kid was very nice to repeat the instructions and soon we were able to find the path leading down to the hanging coffins.

We were happy to have accomplished quite a bit in our first day in Sagada.  Time seemed to stop as I breathed in the fresh air. This little town up in the mountains is a truly remarkable place. The people are nice.  The ambience is so light.  The weather is cool - perfect for those seeking times of reflection. The food is just great.  I think I would grow fat if I stay a month up in my beloved Sagada.  

There are a few places that I can truly say I am in love with.  And Sagada is one of those places.  I fell in love at first sight and I would not mind falling in love with her all over again.  
Ah!  If I could just do this forever. :-)
I love you,  Oh My Sagada!

Other Parts in this series

Part 1  You Are On It!
Part 2  SagadaOf Dark Caves and Waterfalls 
Part 3  Sagada: A Lazy Day All By Myself

Tuesday, July 22

Wander Photo: At a Glance

Yearning to live in the past at present?  Then head on to Sulyap Bed & Breakfast located at San Pablo City, Laguna.  One of the charming bed & breakfast's lodges is an old house from Obando, Bulacan converted to a hotel.  It also houses a restaurant, an antiques museum and is near other attractions of San Pablo.  

** Book Here for discounted rates! **

Tuesday, July 15

The Heritage Towns I Have Visited

In lieu to the National Heritage Month we celebrated last May, I have made this list which will make all old house-lovers like me jump for joy.

For some unknown reason, old houses have that nostalgic, old world charm which contemporary houses don't seem to have.  It isn't so obvious that I truly admire places with remarkably preserved ancestral homes. Look back with me as I walk through time by visiting these amazing heritage towns.

Ilocos Sur
Please vote for Vigan to be included in the New 7 Wonder Cities of the World
Please Click Here
Vigan tops my list as the ancestral homes of Vigan are gargantuan, supreme, magnificent and everything else in between.  I still remember the first moment when I stepped foot on the famous Calle Crisologo - wide-eyed and all.

Wednesday, July 9

I Can't Wait to Make a Connection With You

My curiosity is beckoning me.  Making me imagine stepping on your doorstep on one cold foggy morning.  The mist is so thick that I could hardly see a few steps ahead of me.  But not so far I could already feel the sun's rays slowly peaking behind the lazy clouds. Its numerous hands are slowly stretching out to welcome me with wide open arms.

I wonder how you look up close.  How will I kill time just roaming around in your quiet streets.  Will someone be asking for my name? Or will I be asking somebody else's name instead?

I want to see how you greet each sunrise.  And how you welcome those who call you their home for the first time. I'd like to think that they would be thinking of going back again and again to you, happy in the thought that they can find a solemn place amidst their busy lives.

Taken from gmanetwork.com

I am not much of a foodie, but of course my tummy would also love to have its own adventure after spending a day trekking with you.  I have tasted apple pies and gobbled down numerous mango pies.  But I hear that lemon pie calling my name!  Now, my mouth is beginning to water.

I ponder on how you let tired souls rest and lead them back to the heavens.  Do you let them sleep under the world or they are literally staring up in the heavens?

I couldn't wait to dip my tired muscles in the rushing water falls of yours!  Just thinking about it makes me want to pack my bag now and just go.

Will that valley reverberate back my words?  When I shout I love you, will you echo back the sweet words...I love you too?

I can't wait to be with you.
I can't wait to see you.
I can't wait to feel you.

I can't wait to make a connection with you.

Monday, July 7

Calaguas Islands, I Love You Three

It was the end of a long summer.  For eight weekends, I have found myself traveling to different places starting off with a relaxing stay in Zambawood.  April was a witness to my discovering of my eternal love for Vigan, paid a surprise visit to Bangued in Abra and had a short four-day affair with Camiguin.  May has dawned. Though I have not gone to far-off places, my calendar was packed with me practicing my mermaiding and had endless meet-ups with friends who literally make my world go around.

Calaguas shore
 by Escape Manila

I signed up a couple months before to join another Calaguas trip.  It would be my third time.  The first one was in 2012 and the second just last year. Yes, you can say that I couldn't get enough of the breath-snatching Calaguas islands.

Before we depart for Calaguas!
 by Escape Manila

What should be a group of about five people ballooned to a rowdy group of nine.  We were supposed to be ten but one backed out the last minute.  But I guess nine was just our lucky number.  

We did a little shopping at the local market in Paracale for the things that we will need. We waited for our guide and after sometime, our little boat was racing against the bigger ones to reach the islands in record time.  

It was scorching hot as what can be expected at this time of the year.  My new friends, Beng, Raul, Kaiye, Glen and Jazz were Calagusas first-timers.  I was no longer surprised that some of them literally marveled at the beauty they saw.  

The lead male band member, Jherson, tasked himself in finding us a good camping spot. However, most of the ideal ones were already taken.  We ended up setting up camp just a few meters where we landed.  It turned out to be the perfect spot as trees provided us the needed shade on this hot summer day.  

After having our lunch and a short nap, we wasted no time and frolicked in the clear waters of Mahabang Buhangin beach.  I slipped on my red tail and joined my friends as they cheered on for me.  It was exhilirating to finally swim in the seas and realize my dreams for the first time. I had become a real mermaid.

We stared at the skies.  How lovely it was as we witnessed the sea pull the sun below before giving birth to the warm luminous night.  
Photo by Budget Biyahera
Our endless night was filled with laughter.  Cherished memories were created and lasting friendships were formed.  Some of them I only met at that time but I felt like I have known them for a long while.  

The following day, we had our own activities.  I found myself spending time with new-found twin sister Kaiye as we spent hours talking about Sweet Valley, Sociology and the never-ending exchange of the famous lines which goes something like this:  'Sir, sabi nila give love on Christmas Day.  So give me love sir. Pero kung wala talaga, just tell me. How do I unlove you?'

Time was so slow that we already packed our things even if the others were still yet to arrive (sorry guys!).  I can already see Jollibee and was imagining kissing his mascot all throughout.

All in all, it was one of the funniest weekends I had this year.  Truly, it's who you travel with that makes the roller coaster ride more worthwhile. I miss you guys!

Till the next #TeamRedTail's adventure!

#LabLablab #MoonMoonMoon #TeamRedTail #TeamBff
I ken ze the statoo o'liberty. Beri smawl op korz!

Wednesday, July 2

Realizations of a Pondering Mermaid

The past three years have been successful for me.  I am privileged to have traveled with different kinds of people who are all cool and fun to be with.  I feel good every time I go home from each of these travels.  

But then, it seems that there is still something missing. As hard as I try to remember a solitary memory, the picture would always come up as blurred or faded in the edges.  

In three decades of existence, I still have the time and strength to take on the road less traveled. To go out of my comfort zone and to fully spread my wings. 

I am contemplating on dropping my planned getaways and just go with the flow.  You see, just thinking about it causes me to grin foolishly.  #hahaha.

Looking back, I terribly miss my Camiguin adventure as I went to Mindanao for the first time there and it was all on my own.  I yearn for that feeling once more.  This time the longing is so strong it's as if I am waiting for the sun to rise at twelve midnight.

I have become a mermaid. But nobody can say that a mermaid can't have wings. I will fly above the seas. And I will soar up high.

Tuesday, July 1

Camiguin's Ancestral Houses

I grew up in tiny houses, though livable, doing so made me dream to have my own someday.  Grand, spacious and airy - similar to a Disney castle, quite like in the article I read (click here). Or at least close to those types.  

However, my love of old houses only deepened when I visited the Island Born of Fire last summer.  I found myself once again mesmerized as I stared open-mouthed at each old home I passed by.