Banaue - Sagada Day 1: Banaue Rice Terraces, Fedelisan Rice Terraces and Bomod-ok Falls

Thursday, March 03, 2016

I was so giddy for the past few weeks preparing for our supposed-to-be Cagayan Valley trip. Not until the final week when our scheduled tour was cancelled because of heavy rains in Sta. Ana. I was so unhappy and frustrated. Radney and I had to think of Plan B to still have somewhere to spend the weekend. Then we saw some travel agency suggestions on Facebook offering Sagada Tour and they have available slots for joiners. We've found it more expensive to DIY so we looked for a travel agency, we've chosen Travel Ventours since they have the largest number of page likes (150,000+)  among others. Their service was also tried and tested by Radney's brother a week ago who also went to Sagada and he gave good feedback. We've booked for 2 slots at P3500/pax (price depends on the number of joiners per group). Inclusions were van transfers, tour guide fees and accommodation.

Sagada is a municipality of Mountain Province. It is so popular even before for its cold climate and traditional hanging coffins. It became more popular last year because of Kiltepan Peak where sea of clouds is best viewed at dawn and was a shooting spot for a local film 'That Thing Called Tadhana', starring Angelica Panganiban ad JM De Guzman which was a blockbuster. Aside from that, it is also known for its numerous zigzag roads and sharp curves which made me hesitant to go there at first. This was my first time in Sagada and before the trip, I had this impression that it is a fatal place to go via land travel... I was so paranoid to imagine that the car I'm riding might fall off the cliff or might have head-on collision with another car on blind curves. *face palm*. As I've experienced, the roads are indeed difficult. For this one, I have to thank and recommend our driver Kuya Neil and Tour Coordinator Jay-Ar of Travel Ventours for their very good service and expert driving skills.

Our travel time going to Sagada was 13 hours with three stop overs for restroom/snack breaks. Our departure from Trinoma was around 10 PM so we slept in the van throughout night. It was bright when I woke up and we were already in Banaue, Ifugao. We went outside to take pictures at the welcome arch and only then we've felt that the temperature had dropped.

1st Stop: Banaue Rice Terraces (Hadgan-Hagdang Palayan) - It is often referred to as the '8th Wonder of the World', it was built by our Ifugao ancestors thousands of years ago. They shaped the mountains like ladders/terraces for them to be able to plant rice, vegetables and root crops. Several view decks are now situated near the terraces and we went on the the last one as there other tourists who came first in the other view decks. We had a hard time taking pictures of this famous landmark as the mountain was covered with thick fog, we had to wait for the wind to blow them away.

2nd Stop: Rusty Nail Inn and Café- We stopped here to eat our lunch. We ordered Rusty Spicy Chicken and Sinigang. It took an hour before our food was served. It was somehow expected because Kuya Jay-Ar gave us a heads-up about how long it will take given that there are too many customers that day. It may seem unacceptable for some but we had no choice but to wait, everyone was so hungry. Radney and I love spicy foods so we enjoyed their Spicy Chicken. We didn't like the Sinigang that much because it was no longer hot when served to us and there were only three pieces of pork.

3rd stop: Indigenous Inn - I've read other blogs before we went on this trip for tips and one of the things I learned was to not expect luxury accommodation in Sagada. It is so true! I haven't seen any hotel but there are a lot of lodges and transient houses. In most of the lodges, restrooms are shared within the floor for standard rooms. We stayed at the third floor of Indigenous Inn. Our room simply consists of the bed, the dresser and a chair (no electric fans). There were four common restrooms in the third floor and only one has a working water heater. The water was so cool, we badly needed the heater when taking a bath.

Sagada Lemon Pie House and Sagada Brew are a few walks away from Indigenous Inn. Sad to say, we weren't able to dine in either resto. Lemon Pie House was closed when we went. As we were about to enter Sagada Brew, an arrogant customer was arguing with a staff so we simply walked away.

4th stop: Fedelisan Rice Terraces and Bomod-ok Falls - Most of the travel groups, including Travel Ventours have Sumaguing Cave on the first day. There was a huge crowd inside and outside the cave that day, we've agreed to change our itinerary and went to Bomod-ok Falls instead. By 3 PM we were in Barangay Fedelisan. Two middle-aged women served as our trail guides. We passed along a community where Fedelisan Rice Terraces is located. There are concrete steps going down the mountain and when walking on the edge of the rice fields. Bomod-ok Falls is too far, we kept walking for 2 hours in order to reach this hidden gem. The falls is surrounded by boulders and was so enchanting on a closer look. The waterfalls' basin is too deep. We were not able to swim so we just dipped our tired feet on the water to relax. We didn't stay long because it was about to get dark and we needed to go back for another two hours. Going back was the hardest part especially on the concrete steps. We had to stop walking several times to catch our breath and rest for a few seconds. It was already dark when we finished. I've felt that all my energy was drained after this activity.

Our first set of activities were too tiring but it was so memorable to have visited the Banaue Rice Terraces which I only see on TV and the old one thousand peso bill before. It was nice to meet industrious people working on the fields of Fedelisan Village. That blissful moment listening to the sound of nature in Bomod-ok Waterfalls was priceless. 

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