Conquering Banaue and Sagada

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I am definitely not a mountain person.

I have poor hand and eye coordination and am not good in balancing at all. But a few summers ago, instead of having a beach birthday weekend I opted to head up to Ifugao and Mountain Province with my best friend and see how far we can go.

Ifugao is home to Banaue Rice Terraces, the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was really amazing to see it up close and I also felt really proud that this is something that indigenous Filipinos did a long time ago! There are several vantage points in Banaue but the one we went to really resembles the image at the back of the Philippine P1000 peso bill. Cool!

Near the entrance of this vantage point that we went to were a group of Ifugao women in their traditional clothing. We asked them if we can take a picture with them and they happily obliged :)

After sightseeing in Banaue, it was time to go to Mountain Province for the real adventure. We had to ride a jeepney to get through the steep and curvy mountain path. It’s not scary at all and the view was awesome!

One of the most famous municipalities in Mountain Province is Sagada. Adventurers seek out this place for caving, spelunking and trekking. The biggest cave is Sumaguing because it has so many chambers and connections to other caves. They also said it was the “easiest”. Yeah right.

We had several warnings from the guides before going inside: (1) Do not wander off alone. (2) Stick with your guide. (3) Follow instructions. (4) And most important of all – Never give up!! We had one local guide assigned to us, Kuya Orion. He is very encouraging and helpful (especially at times when you seem tired and about to give up!). Try to look for him when you go to Sagada.

The rock formations inside seemed unreal. It was amazing to see how all these natural creations were still intact. And oh, the rocks also had a lot bat dung but I didn’t care. I was more focused on surviving this cave adventure. I cannot imagine how I was able to climb up, go down and squeeze myself in these rock formations! Thankfully our guide turned out to be a trusty cameraman who was just popping out from different angles taking pictures of us all the time and documenting our struggles. Haha.

Take a second look at the two photos of some of Sumaguing cave’s famous rock formations. Don’t they look familiar? Can you guess? ;p

Finally, after 3 hours we managed to get out of the cave alive with all parts still intact. Whew!

At first I thought I would really struggle, but when you’re there inside the cave, you just have to find your strength (physically and mentally) and just push yourself to do it. It’s a good test of how tough you are and see how much you can push yourself. And surprisingly, I enjoyed it! I did have a lot of muscle pains after, but it’s definitely something I would consider doing again.

Hmmm..so maybe I can be a bit of a mountain person after all. :)

PS – Saving the best for last..my favorite spelunking picture! I was trying to get to the other rock and from out of nowhere Kuya Orion called out and said “Smile ma’am!” I flashed my brightest smile even though I was so tired and dirty. And look at the result! Haha! xoxo

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