For many many years, I’ve been haunted by this elusive trip to Sagada. I’ve organized 3 trips already and they all never happened. Once, I was packed and in the bus station with 2 friends. It was a Holy Wednesday and there were no tickets to any bus out of Manila already. My two friends who had just met then thru me decided to go with a group of foreigners who were looking for extra bodies to fill up a jeep they’ve rented to go up to Sagada from Manila because they too weren’t able to get bus tickets. I was the only one who did not join them because of my severe case of claustrophobia, I couldn’t put myself in a jeep for over 12 hours, I just knew I wouldn’t survive that trip.
So I’ve had these lists, notes and research about Sagada all ready for a trip up but every year ended up with a broken promise to climb up. A dear friend, a best friend of one of my best friend and couple has a house up in Sagada and a standing invitation to visit them and feel at home– a perk that is as valuable as gold. To be hosted by someone who actually lives there or of someone who actually grew up around the area is like being hosted by a friend who is a Native American indian in the great outdoors of the Grand Canyon. You can’t have a better tour guide than that.
2013, it only took my son Ethan to say yes to a kind of trip like this and we went, no hesitation, nothing would stop it, not even what ended up to be a 17-hr bus trip to Bicol the week before and a super tough film shoot under the rain, sun, rain, mud and forrest conditions that left me over-fatigued– Sagada, here we come.
It’s one of those things– when it is meant to happen, it is meant to happen. Ethan and I have been to so many places. We’ve driven thru the countryside of California together–with friends and just us two for hours on end, slept in a tent, fished, went boating, stopped at gasoline stations, visited thrift shops but nothing like this trip– a bus ride of 12 hours, just us two, bringing only our backpacks and headed out to the great wilderness of North Luzon, this was a very very special trip, one father and son ought to have at least once in their life. I can’t wait for our next one actually.
I don’t have the skills to even write how nice Sagada was and is. So I’ll just leave a few photos here and encourage everyone to go up if you haven’t yet. In our Ilonggo dialect, there is a reaction to a skillful person that literally means “that was great or you were good or you were great!” and it is “sagad ah!” That’s what I think of when I see and hear the word Sagada.