Sagada: I’ll be going back and see you again

Sagada is getting popular and I don’t wonder. The first time I set my feet in Sagada and walk across the calm and quiet street, I knew I’ll have my best moments and will surely treasure it. It was the first goose bumps; I know I’ll fall in love with this place.

On our way to Sagada is breathtaking. The air I breathe is relaxing, reminiscing makes me smile. I can’t take my eyes out from the passenger window, every angle and scenery I’m seeing is art. Those mountain capes, rice terraces, roadside waterfalls, flowers; all were like structured to its finest.  

First glimpse of the town, it was calm and silent, I do not know what to expect but it’s different from what I’ve seen before, it’s catching my attention, I am hyped and excited to explore more.

We met SAGGAS guides and they were cool and bubbly. We were welcomed with silent laughs and smiles. Another guide we meet was Raffy, a big brown dog and he guided us along our Echo Valley tour. We are getting there, full of stories, traditions, beliefs, cultures and realization.

Then it’s a test of strength and bravery, Cave connection. From Lumiang Cave to Sumaging Cave, it was dark and cold, though you may feel some sweat; it was a totally diverse experience, it’s a different world, a test of courage and strength while you’re in the never-ending exploration. It’s a beauty hidden and waiting to be explored. 
We tried Pinikpikan, and other local delicacies, it’s mouth-watering and tempting. We wanted to see more, feel more and explore more but we need to go back to Manila, I know there’s a lot I left behind and dreaming of visiting again. River trekking in Pongas Falls, the sunrise at Kiltepan, the Ganduyan Museum, Orange picking, mountain climbing and more, I’ve been there once but I want to witness more. That’s Sagada.

I travel a lot, and among those places that I’ve been. It was Sagada that I’m looking forward seeing again. And you would too...  


Visit: Surviving Sagada

Northern Mindanao Escape: Iligan’s Tinago Falls

Iligan's Pride
Tinago falls is indeed Iligan’s pride. I’ve been craving to visit the falls the first time I saw a video showcasing the beautiful clear blue water plus the rush of the falls in a basin of cold tempting water. Without a doubt, Iligan known as "City of Majestic Waterfalls" is part of our Mindanao escape.

Trekking down the hidden falls is not as hard and far from those I have experienced however I am not feeling well that day because of my monthly visitor (you know) but I do not want to miss this out. We hired a motorcycle (habal-habal) to bring us here. We asked them to stop at a nearby market so we can buy our lunch. We arrive at a house where the locals (plenty of them) are welcoming you offering to hire them as tour guide, we thought we needed one and it seems automatic, they even didn’t wait for us to say yes, as soon as we told that it was our first time visiting the Tinago falls, they accompanied us and assist us. (Of course with hidden charges) You also need to pay the entrance fee and a walk around 10mins to reach the more or less 500-step stairs descending to the hidden falls.

Welcoming the visitors
We were thrilled and excited as soon as we saw even just a peek. Then finally, after the last few steps, our tired feet was refreshed upon seeing and hearing the rumblings of the waterfalls.

Captivating and tempting
I thought that there will be only few visitors but we were welcomed by plenty of people swimming, eating and as if there’s a party going on. Exploring the complete view of the location, we realized that it was not really a hidden ('Tinago' in Filipino) after all. A constructed tables and chairs were seems built for quite some time plus an abandoned pool that was now almost covered with overgrown grasses on the right side. I am sad at this point because it’s ruining the natural beauty of the waterfalls, a bridge connecting to the other side of the entrance was created and all were not maintained anymore. All seems just like an old view of the past. Some trashes were noticeable but hopefully those who are responsible will clean their place before leaving.  

Crowded Tinago Falls
View of the other side
After a few research back home, I found out that it used to have a resort and developed land area for vacationers. I guess its better this way.

Locals will invite you to a ride on the bamboo raft so you can get near the waterfalls, then they will offer to take pictures of you (Without realizing, also with hidden charges too). You will also enjoy watching kids jumping and swimming like a pro.

Going near 
Do not forget to look  up 
The view behind the rushing waterfalls
Here’s a reminder, always be careful because even you have your life vest on, the waterfalls the hard and immense body of water dropping can still drown you if you’ll stay long where the drop was on its hardest spot or even just near it. We really shouted for help because two of us, Cleah and I where stuck near it and would need someone to pull the raft far from rocks so we can catch breaths. It’s something we would never forget.

We still enjoyed the cold water and the magnificent nature still wins at the end. The locals especially the team that assist us on the raft are very fun to be with and “makukulit”. They were also having fun just like us and kept on jumping on the cliff as if it was also their first time. They really make us feel welcome and comfortable. Though we noticed that they are quite pushy with the guides and assistance because of the fee, maybe because there are plenty of them offering their service and they only get few bucks for the entire day. Probably a more regulated and organized entrance fees, porters and guides will make the transactions better and equal and will not overwhelm first time visitors like us. Anyway, visiting Iligan is still a must plus its a budget friendly trip. We spend around 1000pesos for a day trip including a visit to Maria Cristina Falls.

How to get there:

- From CDO Bulua/Westbound Terminal, Board a bus bound for Iligan City
- Upon arriving at the Iligan terminal, transfer a trike/Jeep and drop off at Gaisano Iligan
- Ride Buru-un bound jeepneys and drop off at the junction going to Maria Cristina Falls (if you want to include this on your trip)
- You can hire habal-habal to take you to Tinago Falls. They will offer to wait for you so they can bring you to the bus stop and assist you to ride back to CDO. 

“As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can".”
~ John Muir