the Saga in Sagada – the George Guest House

Finally (and i mean ‘finally’, in its truest, purest,real sense) after hours upon hours of travelling, we have set foot in Sagada! we wasted no time looking for our accomodation – George Guest House. i cant quite remember exactly but most probably Doi arranged for a van transfer from the terminal to the guest house because we rode a van courtesy of George Guest House for free. we were billeted at the annex building of the guest house which was about a 5-min walk from their main building.

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toffee playing w/ the smoke from his mouth. caught on cam by Edcel.

Address: Dao-angan Sagada
Contact no.: 09185480406 and look for Dora Tauli
E-mail: george.guesthouse@yahoo.com

i was impressed with our accomodation.

for one, our BIG ROOM has wi-fi! i didnt thought real time updating in twitter and facebook was still possible in Sagada (lol).

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we paid 1750P per day for a room that was good for 10. we were 7 in a room (including a couple we befriended during the trip, Tita Myrna and his husband who happens to be from Bulacan also, kaya tsismisan na…kapit village ko lang pala sila hehe), thats 250P each for a day. i spent 500P for a 2-night accommodation. dirt cheap i thought.

our BIG room had 5 queen sized beds in it. so that meant that the singles (thats me, doi and edcel) had one queen size bed each all for ourselves.

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our BIG room has a kitchen with complete cooking stuff. so we had saved much on food because we cooked our own food instead of eating out. (ok James, the big boy actually cooked for us. i only did the dish washing lol)

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our BIG room has 2 sets of comfort rooms, so taking a bath didnt took that much time. it has heaters in it so no worries with the very cold Sagada waters.

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our BIG room has no air conditioning. the cold Sagada weather especially at night was more than enough.

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our BIG room has a nice open air view of Sagada town, perfect for some early morning meditation.

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George Guest House annex building is the one at the center

if i am to rate George Guest House in the context of a ‘Sagada accommodation’, id give it a 9 out of 10. the 1 point less was for the lack of a TV set.

also, the annex building is the nearest accommodation to the Sumaguing caves.

the Saga in Sagada – ‘mag topload jud ta bai?’

finally we have reached Banaue. the starting point of the more adventurous part of this trip to Sagada. its somewhat the ‘where almost there, almost.’ vibe already.

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when we arrived we immediately looked for the town center to find the jeepneys that are bound for Bontoc. one major advice i can give to those going to Sagada is do not believe those scalpers who try to lure you with their very good communication skills. like us, they tried to convince us to have breakfast in a cafe and wait for their ‘chartered’ jeepney that would take us directly to Sagada for 300P. good thing my travel mate Doi already researched about a jeepney route that cost much less than the 300P amount. its the Banaue – Bontoc which costs 150P and another jeep from Bontoc to Sagada which costs 45P. thats a savings of 105P.

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meet Doi of thetravellingfeet.com

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the first trip for the jeepney bound for Bontoc was still at 8:30 am so while waiting we had our breakfast which consisted of Gardenia sandwich and cheezweez regular cheese flavor that we bought in Manila. one huge factor for the big savings in this trip was that we bought groceries for our food in Manila.

now here’s the catch. after we left the town center with our jeepney, we happen to stop at the tourists who opted to pay the 300P direct to Sagada trip. then they all went on to ride at the same jeepney as ours. so that means that the 300P jeepney was the exact jeepney that we rode for only 150P!

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Edcel and his winning back pack from ROX

since the jeepney would now be filled with other tourists, Doi and Edcel suddenly thought of a really brilliant idea. they wanted to experience top loading! when James and Carla heard about the plan, they excitedly affirm to it. well me? all i was able to utter was…please refer to this blog’s title… a few seconds after i was already on the roof of the jeepney with the rest of my travel buddies, a local and his 2 chickens. and yes, i had my very first taste of that toploading experience, and i had it in the freezing weather of Banaue.

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the makasaysayang office shoes

the jeepney ride from Banaue to Bontoc would be around 2 hours. but on the 45th min. i had to go down the jeep and give up my top loading experience because i was already freezing! the whole time it was raining and since i was seated right smack at the front of the jeep, all the rain water would swamp my face and my whole body. i was soaking wet already. i cant bear the cold anymore so i had to transfer inside the jeepney.

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there were a few stop overs in between. i was not able to count how many because i fell asleep the moment i sat down inside the jeepney. i was dead tired, very cold and very wet. i could remember though that i caught one of the Korean tourist laughing at me while i was half asleep. i was too tired and too wreckless to even care. why could he be laughing at me, maybe i was salivating like a dog then.

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when i woke up we were a few minutes away from Bontoc, we stopped over this viewing deck of a small rice terraces. finally, my first glimpse of a real rice terraces (the ones in Banaue were nowhere to be seen because of the rain and the heavy fog).

finally we arrived in Bontoc a small town center situated right at the middle of the mountains. its another wierd experience entering this town. its like as we traverse these endless mountains and zigzag roads, then suddenly right at the middle of nowhere would appear a thriving town just like the ones found in the lowlands.

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the jeep brought us to another terminal where the jeep bound for Sagada (finally) was waiting for us. its another 1 hour ride for 45P before finally reaching Sagada town proper. i do not have any recollection of this part of the trip anymore because i was already asleep even before the jeepney left Bontoc. when i woke up we were already in Sagada.

here’s to more photos courtesy of Edcel:

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tof? tof? ok ka lang? toffee???

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did you just say its a rough road ahead?

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Banaue town proper…gloomy.

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spit at your own risk (or be held liable)

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the uber excited Carla and the very worried toffee

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cheers to hypothermia!

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i was sooo kilig w/ these 2 ‘newly’ weds…even in almost zero visibilty

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view from the top

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and then there were 4 left

the Betis Church – the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines

part 1 of my 2011 Holy Week feature.

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Yes, you’ve read it right. Sistine Chapel…probably the best known Chapel in the whole of Catholicism and the Christian world. this chapel is famous for being the venue of the Papal Conclave where cardinals vote and elect the next Pope (I hope my religious education recall served me right on that). if you ask if we have a church or a chapel comparable to that of the Sistine Chapel in grandeur and magnificence, maybe the Church of Santiago Apostol in Betis, Guagua Pampanga can serve as the answer.

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about a week before Holy Week, i have decided to visit this much talked about church since it only is about an hour away from my place. good thing my 1st visit fell on a Sunday so i decided to hear mass there also. so together with Boks, my office buddy, we went to Guagua to look for the said church. we arrived there at around 5pm just in time for the Holy Mass. my nose bled profusely though because the mass was heard in total Kapampangan. I only undertsood ‘Amen’ and ‘Alleluia’.

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when i first set eyes on the exterior of the church, i realized that its just one of the old churches commonly found around the country. i even asked myself ‘so how did this church became the country’s Sistine Chapel? nothing extraordinary..’ i didnt realize that the beauty of this church lies in its interior.

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i was at awe with the massive paintings on the Church’s ceiling. the fresco’s also had paintings of different religious arts very reminiscent of those found in European churches (or i should say the Vatican). the front grand door of the church also had wood carvings w/c had very intricate designs. the floor of the church was also made out of wood which was very predominant to Catholic churches during the Spanish times.

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i had planned to take a couple of shots right after the mass as i was expecting the chandeliers would still be lit since its still around 6pm. i also thought that since this is a tourist attraction, the church would gather visitors especially right after every mass. much to my dismay though, the church attendant, even though he saw me on the floor lying as i tried to take photos of the altar, turned the lights off leaving me on the floor in pitch darkness. Thank You very much Manong.

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By Good friday i also brought my family into this Church for Visita Iglesia. maybe its not yet time for me to take good photos of this church. by the time we arrived at the church, the church cleaners were very busy waxing the wooden floor right in front of the altar. there was no way for me to take good shots with old manangs scrubbing the floor. i had to settle shooting my brother with the magnificent paintings as background.

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i will definitely be back on this church to try my luck again in shooting its interiors. i haven’t researched well also regarding as to who was the artist of the paintings and in general the history of the church.

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my brotha

the Saga in Sagada – ‘Briefless’ in Sagada

the title – misleading but not quite. read on to find out why.

bulacan – manila – cebu – manila -bulacan – san fernando – tarlac – manila – banaue – sagada – benguet – baguio – manila – bulacan…the week that was. (tulog – mata – fb – tulog – mata – fb -tulog : the manic monday…im on the 3rd tulog part na. goodnight)

this was my FB status message the monday after my ‘all of a sudden’ Sagada trip over the weekend. i was still at cloud 9 (literally and figuratively) as i tried to recall every single moment i had with the trip.

well how did i end up going to Sagada ‘all of a sudden’?

it started with another planned trip. i had to do some research regarding that trip so i had to read some travel blogs. then i came across this blog http://soloflighted.com/ by Edcel Suyo who happens to be a Cebuano w/c made it a lot more easier and more comfy for me to correspond. it took me a few emails to him (luckily he was kind enough to reply to my queries) and found out he was also going to Sagada. because of his being cebuano, it was too easy for me to throw in my trust to him and i readily (and politely lol) asked if its ok if i tag along with the trip. he said yes and my Sagada trip was ‘somewhat’ confirmed.

basically there was no reason for me not to pursue with the trip. it was my rest day, i don’t have pending jobs to do, i have a few more money left and i just can go if i want to. but the thing was i kinda had second thoughts of going. for one, its my first time to travel w/ total strangers (anxiety attacks anyone?). for two, the week before the trip i was just in Cebu. for three, the monday before that weekend, i was suddenly deployed to Tarlac to attend to some business conference that would end a few hours before the bus we would take leaves for Sagada. most of all, i just thought, its Sagada for goodness sake. nobody goes there just like that?! good thing though Edcel had to keep on reminding me that they have already budgeted everything for the trip and they have divided it amongst ourselves – me included. so i have no choice but to go. hehe.

before this trip, i was ‘on the road’ for the past 8 days already. i have not seen my bed yet since i left Cebu. admittedly i was exhausted already for all the traveling. the only thing that kept me moving was that i just have to imagine i was on Amazing Race, i thought it would feel similar minus the running and the detours lol (its one of my long term goals…to be part of that game, Doi? edcel? watyatenk???)

thursday afternoon arrived swiftly. i had to rush my team to go home as early as possible so that i can still catch up w/ my fellow travel mates in Manila. we agreed to meet in MOA. 4 hours total inside 2 buses and 30mins MRT ride i arrived in MOA. for the first time i met my would be Sagada travel mates Edcel, Doi, Carla and James (will blog about them separately). after a very short his and hellos we immediately hopped on a jeep and traversed our way to Sampaloc Manila where our Bus Terminal was located.

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3 jeepney rides after: from MOA to LRT rotunda (7.50P) , LRT ROtunda to Quiapo Church (13P) and Quiapo Church to Bust Terminal (7.50P) we arrived at the Florida Bus Terminal in Sampaloc. (i do not claim familiartiy of the place since i have been there less than 5 times only but i think UST is not in front of the terminal but beside it. but better yet, to be safe ask around to be sure.

Bus: Florida Bus Line (Sampaloc, Manila) ETD: 1045PM Daily
Contact No: 7433809/7315358/4933667

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when we arrived i knew the termiinal already because the bus i took when i went to Ilocos passed by this terminal (for Ilocos bound passengers, its better to go to Florida Bus terminal in Cubao especially if its passenger season because if you wait in Sampaloc, not unless you have reserved your tickets, chances are your not getting any seats. you wouldnt want to sit on a makeshift chair for a 10 hour bus ride)

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we would be taking the Manila-Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada route as planned by my travel mates. when i heard of the plan i knew i was doomed. i dreaded my Ilocos trip via 10 hour bus ride. and i knew this whole Sagada thing will be much more tiresome compared to that of Ilocos. i kept quiet for a while and tried to absorb everything. finally i told my self that i was up for the challenge. this should train me for my Amazing Race dream!

the Manila – Banaue Airconditioned de lux Bus with CR tickets cost me 500P. special thanks to Edcel for buying me the ticket. as we waited for the 1045PM trip, i saw this sleeper buses bound for other destinations. i tried to ask how much are the tickets for those kinds of buses and found out that it ranges from 700P-800P. i havent tried to ride one and i wouldnt mind paying such amount to experience how it is to be in a sleeper bus.

at around 930PM we boarded our bus in hopes of having a few more extra hours of rest and sleep (my travel mates have been awake for the past 24 hrs due to their night shift jobs.) i happen to be seatmates with a French woman who lives in India and has been travelling around Asia for the past few years. she’s retired already and enjoys her days travelling and working as a social worker in India. we chatted for a few minutes until we both decided to sleep.

i didnt notice that we left already until we were in NLEX. i fell asleep again until we exited – to my surprise – at Sta. Rita Exit. the NLEX exit where i always (actually all the time) exit whenever i go to and from Manila. my ‘antok’ got lost when i realize i am in familiar terrritory. i observed which roads we passed. alas! (toink)…this highway is the exact highway in Bulacan where i live. i can actually just wait at my door steps for the bus to arrive and just make ‘para’ the bus if i want to go to Sagada. i was like ‘what the…’ i didnt know that during midnight, Banaue bound buses do pass by Bulacan. i only see Tuguegarao bound buses most of the time but not Banaue. i fell asleep again when we entered the province of Nueva Ecija. the next thing i knew we stopped over at San Jose Nueva Vizcaya. i wasnt sure if it was the first stop over or not. when i got down. i had my very first taste of almost freezing cold weather. i thought we were already in Banaue. but when i checked the place, i was surprised we were still in Nueva Vizcaya. i dont know much about the province that’s why i was surprised they too can experience really cold weather. they even sell jackets and bonnets which are very typcial in Baguio. i bought one bonnet for 50P (in 2005 when i was in Baguio, head gears only cost me 20P). when i went to their CRs to take a pee, i had to shell out 20P. quite expensive. i realized, well i must be in the mountainous areas of Luzon already, it seems water is scarce thats why CR stuff is expensive.

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i fell asleep for hours until we came to a bus stop again (not sure how many bus stops we had already). when i tried to look around, about 1/3 of the passengers stepped out of the bus already. since it was still pitch dark i tried to look outside to see where exactly we were then. as i checked we were already in Lagawe Ifugao. i got excited because finally im in ‘Ifugao’ province. i knew we were moments (or few hours) away from Banaue. i had to settle down and sleep again to wait for our arrival.

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when i woke up we were still on the road, it was daytime already but fog and clouds covered almost everything outside our bus. i cant see anything beyond a few meters. right at that moment i knew i was in a different world. i knew this is the start of that ‘Sagada’ experience. roughly an hour more and more zigzag roads with it. we finally came to a stop. suddenly with out warning, we were already in Banaue. finally after 9 hours we have arrived!

oh btw, i forgot the explanation for the title. since this blog has reached 1500 words already, then let me just summarize it – i was not able to bring underwear for the trip. this probably was the most unprepared trip ever for me. besides the underwear, i brought with me my laptop bag instead of my travel backpack because i had to rush packing from my business stuff and change to my Sagada stuff. i even was on my office shoes when i arrived in Banaue. i think the only right thing a brought with me was my jacket….tsk tsk. good thing the stores in Banaue have Clavin Klein boxer shorts for sale. i bought 4.