If there’s a perfect place to commune with nature, I would always attribute Sagada with such majesty.
We woke early in the morning to witness one of the most breath-taking sunrise experiences in the world! We went up to Kiltepan Peak to surrender to the majesty of God’s wonders as we become grateful spectators of a sunrise that rises above a bed of clouds! This was definitely one of the best sunrise experiences of my life (next to that of Angkor Wat’s sunrise)
KILTEPAN PEAK SUNRISE
Sunrises are extremely priceless for me. It gives that sense of peace, peace in the silence of the quiet morning hours. Waking up in the early hours of the morning may be a challenge for most people, but in rising with the sun, it gives a feeling of accomplishment complemented by that inner peace. The Earth will always be an exquisite place to chase, with admiration that is almost insatiable. And to witness a sunrise is to witness the birth of a new day, definitely an experience everybody should openly embrace.
We had to beat our alarm clocks and challenge ourselves not to fall back in deep slumber for those precious extra hours of sleep. 4:00 am was the time to be up and about to make it just in time and wait for the momentous sunrise in Kiltepan Peak. Kiltepan got its name from its three bounding barangays: Kilong, Tetep-An, and Antadao.
It was pitch black when our tour service picked us up from our guest house. By the time we got to Kiltepan Peak, I could not help but rush up the hills and find my perfect waiting spot to rise with the sun! There was a bed of clouds below me, from where I was standing. swiftly resting and hovering above the man-made rice terraces of Sagada. The moment was priceless. I had to take a mental photograph to make me remember how great our God is, and to make me remember how beautiful my country has always been.
Time surely did not waste away, along with each cherished moment of the rising of the sun, was a time of peace in the midst of the bed of clouds enveloping us, to the point that we could almost taste it. It was one of my childhood curiosities to find out how clouds tasted like, thinking that they were almost sweet as cotton candy. But at that moment, I just had to seize the moment and take time to revel how great the feeling of waiting and watching the sunrise amidst the bed of clouds to the point of tasting it. It did not taste like cotton candy at all, I was just like normal mist– bland and tasteless, but the feeling? Sweet as it could ever be! Slowly, the sun was rising up, faster than I could even imagine. But the getting-up-early was very much worth it, because this kind of experience may be free– but extremely priceless. I don’t know how many times I uttered the word, “wow”, but every time I said wow came with a grateful smile to God for making such a lovely view and experience as this.
ROCK INN FARM AND ORANGE PICKING
After taking much time enjoying the sunrise and after basking in the warm sunshine, we headed to Rock Inn and Farm for one of the best breakfast places in Sagada and to personally pick fresh Sagada oranges! Rock Inn and Farm features Cafe Bodega, a barn (hence the name bodega) turned to cozy and homey restaurant loved for all its comfort food dishes. The atmosphere upon entering the restaurant elicits a feeling of appreciation towards indigenous interiors as it is embellished with Igorot products, designs, decors, and furniture.
After eating, we commenced with our Sagada Orange Picking! But unfortunately, at the time of our visit, there will little oranges left because the caretaker of the orchard passed away due to a fire accident that occurred just days ago thus leaving the oranges with little care to grow.
BOKONG FALLS, ECHO VALLEY, SAGADA HANGING COFFINS
We had to walk on foot going to Bokong Falls, then to Echo Valley, and finally, Sagada’s Hanging Coffins. This was definitely a beautiful sight to behold.
Bokong Falls was just a small falls compared to Bomod-Ok Falls (the giant falls Sagada is famous for). We were not able to reach Bomod-ok because of problems with logistics and territorial disputes among the guides in the respective areas. SAGGAS can just offer their services until specific territories, but upon getting to Bomod-ok, tourists need to get another set of guides from their town, because they do not authorize SAGGAS to do tours in their territory. So, we had to settle for Bokong Falls, which was just an entirely small waterfall.
After Bokong Falls, the sights while walking will amaze you.
Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
Echo Valley is one of the few places in the world where shouting is allowed and apparently enjoyable. From the name itself, Echo Valley is situated in a valley, hence making it very much conducive to producing echoes as the sounds are tossed from one side of the valley to the other.
It is also the site of the most popular tourist spot in the Mountain Province, the Hanging Coffins of Sagada. According to people, the elderly Igorots carve their own coffins before they die. To do this, they use hollowed logs of pine trees as their very own casket. If they are already too weak or ill, their families are the ones who prepare their coffins instead. But there were some limitations to this, as to not all Igorots were given the privilege to have a hanging coffin burial. Mostly, those who were allowed to have this kind of burial were the elders of the community who are married and are not single. They were normally esteemed members of society during their time.
This burial ritual has been a time-honored tradition for the people of Sagada as this has been part of their culture for more than 2000 years. Igorots who have earned certain status in their tribe were smoked throughout a 5-day pre-burial feast to avoid fast decomposition. Most of the Sagada people prefer to bury their deceased in caves or hanging coffins rather than the ground because according to their beliefs, the higher the body is, the closest they are to heaven, and also to protect the bodies from natural disasters like earthquakes and floods.
More than the warm welcome of nature, the insights and enculturation to the Sagada way of living truly enriched us through our new experiences. By default, Sagada is beautiful in all its simplicity. The town itself is a reflection of how beautiful it is together with its beautiful people. Sagada, truly a priceless paradise in the mountains!!! And I will come back for you…soon.