Saturday, May 30, 2015

Adventures In Sagada

As I said in my previous post, Sagada isn't just a place where broken hearts go to shout their agonies on top of a mountain or to search for their new tadhana (destiny). It's a place ruled by the majesty of mother nature. It's a place free from the horrid noise and pollution of modernization. It's a place filled with adventure.
Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave
© Joany Catingco
What can I wear?
1. Clothes with fabric that can dry quickly when you get wet
Like work out clothes
2. Old/non-expensive clothes that you wouldn't mind getting a bit ripped, soaked and pooped on (by bats)
3. Clothes that let you freely and comfortably move
4. Clothes(such as leggings) that could protect your body from scratches and the cold temperature inside the cave that wouldn't rip easily
5. Caving gloves/cotton gloves/worker's gloves
6. A pair of lightweight outdoor shoes that grips firmly and dries easily.

You will have to take them off at some point, though. In my case, I bought Aqua shoes from SM Department store which is only 250 pesos. It's a pretty good choice if you don't do this sort of thing too often since it's quite cheap.
7. A complete set of dry clothes, plastic bags/news papers(for your car), towel/sarong for after the adventure
© Joany Catingco
© Joany Catingco
What do I have to remember?
1. Bat poop
Yes, there will be lots of bat poop. And there will be instances that it's either you grab (and maybe even hug) a rock with bat poop or you slip and die.. kidding, just probably seriously injured. But I personally don't think bat poop is that bad. It doesn't smell too bad and it's not too gross since they only eat fruits. As Sof told me before I went spelunking, if you step on bat poop, remember that it gets better.
2. You will get wet 
And yes, your underwear may get wet too. Plus, cave water's really cold. But don't worry, aside from the occasional bat poop, the water's pretty clean.
© Joany Catingco
© Joany Catingco
3. Keep an "I can do it" attitude
Especially if, like me, you don't always do this sort of thing, you will find yourself in tricky situations and things can get pretty scary. Keep a positive attitude and plant in your mind that you can do it, because you can! Mind over matter! Cheer each other on too.
© Joany Catingco
© Joany Catingco
4. Be cautious
This is so not the time to play tricks on your friends and push each other around. Also, don't fall in the random holes in the water that could go for probably 20 feet deep, or more. You might never get out.
5. Always pay attention to your guide/s
Every word they say is important, especially if you're new to this. You can ask for help when you need it but don't be too needy. You can count on them to take photos for you too.
© Joany Catingco
© Joany Catingco
6. Don't forget to enjoy to experience
Marvel at bats (who, btw, are not aggressive at all, but rather are scared at humans). Have fun with the challenging tasks you have to do. Use your imagination and see the magnificent rock formations come to life. Let you breath be taken away (not literally though, pls) by the beauty of this cave.
© Joany Catingco
© Joany Catingco
© Joany Catingco
© Joany Catingco
This is an amazing, heart-pounding, jaw-dropping experience that I dare you to try.

Trekking to Bomod-ok Falls
It's advisable that you start your trek really early, and by early, I mean sunrise. Trekking early in the morning would be less tiring because the sun wouldn't be too hot yet and the cool breeze will be perfect. In addition to that, being the first, or one of the first batches to trek for the day would mean you could take more pictures along the way without worrying that you're delaying other groups waiting for you at your back. You'd also avoid the terrible traffic with numerous people since the way down is also the way up.

We were oriented and given bamboo walking sticks before the actual trek.
© Jing Aceveda Gungon
Take as much photos as you like (well, not too much) on your way down. You wouldn't have the same energy, patience and fresh face to do so on your way up

© Jing Aceveda Gungon
The trek began with walking down a couple of steep staircases.

What do I bring/wear?
1. Small and light bottle of (preferably cold)water.
Make sure it's not heavy. You'll regret bringing it is if is.
2. Cap/hat
If you don't want to get your face tanned.
3. Avoid wearing black
Black absorbs heat. Wear white instead, it reflects heat.
4. Swimsuit/trunks/cycling shorts 
Wear swimwear under your clothes so you'd be ready to go when you reach the falls.
5. Long sleeves
To protect your arms from the sun. Make sure the fabric's thin and cool. The trek will most probably be really warm.
6. Trekking shoes/any pair appropriate
Make sure your shoes has strong grip and is comfortable to walk on for a long time.
7. A belt bag/backpack
A bag that's light hassle-free to carry for your valuables. Again, don't bring unnecessary junk that'll contribute unwanted weight to carry.
8. Small towel
To dry yourself quicker after dipping in the basin of the falls.

Half-way down the trek is a humble village where we stopped to catch our breath and use the restroom. Most of the houses were made of pine wood, to keep the house warm, covered with metal roofing (yero) to protect the wood from rain as per our guide. Our guide also said that the village is headed by the elders of the community and there are no politicians in power. I admired at how beautifully simple their life seemed to me. Wouldn't it be amazing waking up everyday to this marvelous view and cool fresh air. Plus, imagine the workout these people get everyday climbing up and down these steps.

Fidelisan Rice Terraces
© Jing Aceveda Gungon

Now this is one of the tricky parts, passing through the rice terraces. It was specially tricky on our way back up since we had other groups going the opposite direction but passing through the same way.

© Joany Catingco
This is the prefect time to joke around and push or trip your friends. Yeah, totally, if you want to fall on some planted rice and continue the trek covered in mud. You'd probably even get reprimanded by the locals for ruining their rice. Yes, that would be absolutely fun. (sarcasm intended)
© Joany Catingco

Bomod-ok Falls

It truly was gorgeous. It might not look like much in my picture since I only took this with my phone camera and my phone camera's weird. It was also the drought when we visited so there was so much less water compared to the usual.

© Jing Aceveda Gungon
The water in the basin was actually very cold. It felt a lot like the ice bucket challenge. Kidding, I don't know what the ice bucket challenge feels like since I was never nominated (loser). Anyway, the water really was freezing, but refreshing to dip in after the trek.

The sun's heat started to become hotter and more groups started to pour in so we decided to head on our way back up around 10am.

The way up was my least favorite part of this adventure. The cool breeze that made the trek a bit easier earlier was now unnoticeable compared to the violent heat of the almost-midday sun.

The brutal sun and the fact that we were going against gravity this time made it extra exhausting compared to earlier. Encountering traffic with other groups was also of no help other than giving us an opportunity rest while waiting for them to pass through. 

In the end, the trek was definitely worth it and fulfilling. Knowing the struggle and fatigue (plus some safety risks) that the adventure caused you just makes you wanna give yourself a pat on the back when you're done (and a full body massage with ice cold drinks to go with that).

You can read more about my Sagada experience here.

How was your spelunking/trekking experience? Do you have any more tips you'd like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below!


  1. Hello,

    Beautiful pics ! :D


  2. I love the waterfall pictures and the other pictures too. :)

  3. You should come to Indonesia soon! They had the most beautiful natural sites in the world. Btw, I can't imagine if i was there.... I might cry a lot :(

    1. Yes, I do hope I can visit Indonesia soon. I've never been there yet. Hmm, why would you cry? :( Anyway, thanks for dropping by, Julisa! :)