Mt. Province is situated in the central part of the Cordillera Autonomous Region. It is bounded on the North by Kalinga and Apayao, on the South by Benguet and Ifugao, on the East by Isabela and on the West by Abra and Ilocos Sur. It has a total land area of 2,097 square kilometers. It consists of ten municipalities and 144 barangays. Bontoc is the capital of the province.
Among the spots Mountain Province is known for, is Sagada. It has the smallest land area of 8,337 hectares. But blessed with a cool climate and lush pine forests. Rain is heaviest in July while December is considered dry. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood of the Sagada people.
The people of Sagada are mostly Igorots. They are Christians who still practice their ancestral beliefs and rituals. They are good English-speakers for they have been educated by the Anglicans since time immemorial.
Sagada is a fascinating place where one can enjoy nature, and at the same time learn from the rich culture and heritage of its people. It is a place where different interests meet, where adventure-seekers can go hiking and spelunking, where nature-lovers can go sightseeing and appreciate the beauty of God's gift to mankind.
How to Get There
A traveler can get to Sagada through the Baguio route. Victory Liner Bus has trips, which usually take up more or less six-hour travel time. There is a Victory Liner terminal in Kalookan (tel. 3611506), one in Manila (tel. 7411436), one in Cubao (tel. 7274688) and another one in Pasay (tel. 8335019). (The average bus fare to Baguio is 450 pesos. It is advisable to take the 12 midnight trip so you will be in Baguio by six in the morning of the following day.)
Upon reaching Baguio, the traveler can take a cab to get to Dangwa terminal, which is just behind a mall in the city. Lizardo buses (tel. 074-3045994) have trips to Sagada up to 10 in the morning only. The trip to Sagada is a six-hour long, dusty and bumpy ride. (The average bus fare to Sagada is 225 pesos.)
Another option to get to Sagada is to take the Banaue route, which, however, could eat up eight to nine hours of travel time. The only bus company that ply this route is Ohayami Bus. It is best to take the evening trip so one can catch the morning trip going to Sagada.
When in Banaue, one may get a view of the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. (FYI: The Terraces is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.) From Banaue, he may take a mini-bus or jeepney going to Bontoc. Some travelers take the chance to visit Bontoc Museum before taking the last mini-bus or jeepney ride to Sagada. (It may surprise you to see some passengers boarding the roofs of the jeepneys. This happens when all seats are taken and the more adventurous travelers prefer to be on the roof to get a better view of the scenery, as they say. So, if you would not want to be boarded on the roof, early ticket reservations will definitely give you a seat in the mini-bus or you can rent the whole jeepney.) A jeepney ride going to Sagada will cost around PhP350 per person. The trip will last for almost 3 hours.
Where to Stay
Accommodation is not a problem in Sagada. There is the Sagada Igorot Inn (tel. 0919-8092448), Ganduyan Inn and Cafe (tel. 0920-6378274), Alfredo's Inn and Restaurant (tel. 0919-4154653), Green House, Log Cabin, Rock Valley Inn, Masferre and the St. Joseph Resthouse-- where relaxing stays are guaranteed. Among these accommodations, St. Joseph's Resthouse is the most convenient, as it is just meters away from the municipal hall, from the church and from the hospital. (St. Joseph Resthouse is managed by the Anglican Missionary. Their website is http://sites.google.com/site/saintjosephresthouse/Home. Reservations may be made through 0918.5595934 or 0920.4155442.)
One won't get starved in Sagada. All lodging houses have its restaurant which serves healthy, delectable food at reasonable prices ranging from 50 to 100 pesos. Best-tasting yogurts are served at Yogurt's House. For coffee-lovers,the Shamrock Cafe is surely the place to be at.
What to See
There are quite a number of enchanting and adorable to see in Sagada. But before one gets to see any of these places, he has to register first at the municipal hall and pay 10 pesos. (The registration fees form part of the municipality's fund for the preservation of Sagada.) Travelers are encouraged to hire guide/guides when visiting the big falls and caves. The guides provide travelers with petromax lamps-- the kind of light that one needs when traversing underground rivers and caves. (The average guide fee is 300 pesos.) For the other sites, you can buy a map and explore by yourselves. (The map costs 10 pesos.)
Here is a list of the must-see places in Sagada: 1. Bokong (Small Waterfalls) - located in the middle of rice terraces 2. Bomod-ok (Big Waterfalls) - has a pool with rice terraces as its background 3. Lake Danom - has a small pool where you can watch the sunset 4. Latang Underground River - it is near Matangkib cave 5. Echo Valley - can see hanging coffins from the limestone cliff 6. Sumaguing Cave - has limestone formations and ice cold water pool at the bottom of the cave 7. Lumiang Cave - where coffins can be viewed from the entrance 8. Matangkib Cave - contains some coffins but it is already closed 9. Kiltepan Tower - view of the breathtaking rice terraces 10. Mt. Amapacao - tallest mountain in Sagada 11. Mt. Polis - offers a view of forest and villages 12. Sagada Weaving Shop - sells woven bags, wallets, hats etc. 13. Pongas (Twin Waterfalls) - has a pool
Sagada implements curfew hours. It is expected that by 9 in the evening everyone is in their respective lodging houses.
The place does not have telephone lines. Satellite dish is used to receive t.v. and radio signals, as the place does not have direct access to radio and television. Newspapers are available only in the afternoon. There is a shop that offers internet access. Only one rural bank is found within the area. There is one automated teller machine from Development Bank of the Philippines. It is still advisable to bring enough cash during your stay in Sagada. You should have at least 3,000 pesos in your pocket. Some food establishments require prior reservations for lunch and dinner. Ordered food are served usually after 30 minutes to 1 hour waiting time.
I have heard a lot of beautiful things about Sagada that is why I have always wanted to visit it. But when my friend suggested that we visit the place, I was a bit apprehensive though because we were both not familiar with it. We thought then that the only thing we can do to know about the place, how to get there and the accommodations available for us was to search the Internet. It was difficult because I practically searched the different websites for information almost everyday. No particular site would tell you all the information you needed. Although some sites are helpful, none of them provided full details on what ride to take, etc. (I even had to check the yellow pages on what bus to take!)
After visiting the historical and scenic places in Sagada, as well as meeting wonderful people and new friends, I will definitely go back there!