My first blog Sagada after 16 years of coming up here regularly twice or 3 times a year and sometimes more
16 year ago Dave suggested that I should visit Sagada. December 26 to 31, 1996, I did with Patrick, Menchie, Melody, Leah, Tito Bambi and Sarreal Brothers, kuya Mon, Millie, Gerald, Tito Danny, Raul, Joey, Mike, etc.
We did Batad of Ifugao Province first, then went to Sagada the following day. We chartered 1 whole jeep, we cannot all fit inside with our backpacks and that is the start of our “top load experience as a traveller”. 16 years ago the road from Ifugao was not cemented and rough, 16 years ago Mother Mary was not at the entrance of the Mt. Province. 16 year ago we were able to see tattooed ladies walking comfortably in Bontoc. 16 years ago the Sagada Tourism Center is already very organized. 16 years ago St. Joseph looks like an orphanage and foreigners can comfortably make out at St. Jo cafe. Those are the days that we, tourist forgot that we should respect the local community and their culture. Now we do.
We arrived there with out accommodation reservation at the peak of Christmas Holiday. Most of the Inns in Sagada is already fully booked and home stays cannot accommodate our big group. Sagada Tourism Center told us to try St. Theodore Hospital. The kind people of the hospital accommodated us at their kitchen as our sanctuary for the night for P 50 with mattresses only. Adventurous as we are, we set up our tents, before we head of to do the caving. I secured the guides for the caves, walk to the site from the hospital, and the cave was a blast of experience. It is a super must do. We walked back to the hospital, that made us bit warm. Showered in ice cold water before dinner. 16 years ago I met Manang Joan of St., Joseph where she serve us with very delicious chicken curry at the 2nd floor of the restaurant. 16 years ago, I did my first Kaniaw Dance. There is a 9pm curfew, so our group was escorted to go back to the hospital by a marshal on a horse.
At the kitchen hospital and we did a SLE on environment education and artificial bonfire (with real fire) at the middle of out mattress all put together beside each other. We offered prayers and hopes and dream to the bonfire.
Bed time, thou we have our own mattress each, some chose to stay in the tent. The temperature started to drop as the night went, it was really so super cold, I started shaking, it is the coldest I ever experience in my life, wasn’t able to sleep. Learned the following morning that it is the new record lowest temperature ever experience in the community.
We packed our bags, got up Lizardo bus, passed by rough road going to Baguio. 16 years ago, I remember Patrick had a rash somewhere, 16 years ago I remember Melody and Menchie are stalking one of the boys, and quietly told me that he is cute. That is the only time I noticed, he is cute. 16 years ago I can carry the Sarreal brothers with one hand. (now they are taller than me, active also in Light of Jesus Family PICC, I am sooooo proud of you guys).
For 16 years of regularly visiting the community and bringing guest, I learn to respect and love the people and place. I super love love love the community of Sagada, Mt. Province. Manang Julia, Tam-ay, Archie, Belen, Marciano of St. Joseph Inn. Manang Arlene and Abbie of Alapos Inn. Manang Joan, Jocie, Raffy, Mildred and angels of St. Jo Cafe. Manong Seril and Anwin my ever reliable jeep provider. Manong June, Conrad, and Lawrence my Aircon Van handler. Manong Dave and Janice and my Master Chef Marvin of Log Cabin. Tita Mary of Residential Inn, Manang Fely, Bang and Wanda of Rock Inn. SEGA Guides. Listening to them about the arrogance and ignorance of tour agencies and travellers, made me a better tour organizer. How I wish travel agencies and travellers, learn how to respect and give values to the culture of communities that operates tour destination all over the Philippines
For 16 years of regularly visiting and bringing guest to Sagada, service have improved, from jeep from Banawe to Sagada, now Aircon Van and Bus can be mobilize according to the preference of the guests. Before the guest don’t have any option regarding the itinerary, now they can choose what to do and where to go according to their budget and physical capacity. Most of the time, the itinerary is Bumod-ok Falls and Caving, but I learn only physically fit people can do that. Before is a fullboard meals, now they can choose what to eat and where to eat according to their budget and dietary constraints.
For 16 years of regularly visiting and bringing guest to Sagada, with happy shepherds, friendship with Patrick, Rose, Nolan, John, Janice, Eric and Heidi grow to brothers and sisters to bestfriends forever. Now most of them are Board of Directors of Nature Awareness and Conservation Club, Inc.
For 16 years of regularly visiting and bringing guest to Sagada, everybody keeps asking me why I keep on coming back. Aside from the wonderful community, I always learn from my exciting and dynamic guests. From happily married guest to happy singles. Happy Family to solo travellers. All always have special blessing to be discovered during the journey. And everybody make everyone a better person.
16 years after regularly coming to Sagada, I did my first blog. December 26 to 30, 2010. I am again excited as usual to meet all the new guest. The Happy Trajano Family, Hernandez Family and Resurreccion Family, and all the happy blessed singles. The parents showed a great example of raising kids well. The kids assured their parents that they can be trusted to do adventures. The singles showed example of congeniality to everybody. And again I am also very excited to see my second family, Sagada community. My beloved Manangs, Manongs and Adings. There so many great blessing, love, healing and miracles, unconsciously and naturally shared during the flow of the trip that I can make a noble if I write is all.
I want to greatly thank the Sagada Community for being part of my life, blessed and inspired me so much to be very successful person I am now. Same with all the friends who blessed, loved, trusted, and journeyed with me in my first Sagada, thank you very much for all the recommendation, I owe you big time, for my very inspiring lifestyle, this is not work or job. This is a gift from God, that should be cared, enriched and shared to the fullest.
Reflected and wrote this blog in Baler, where the whole family are happiest, 28 hours trip from Mt. Province to Aurora Province. December 31, 2011 Friday.
Igorot name for Wild flower
My wonderful life is GOD’s Gift to me, what I do with it, is my gift to God.