The roads to Sagada are winding and treacherous. If not for the breathtaking landscapes and the beautiful rice terraces the six-hour road trip from Baguio to Sagada would have been uneventful. Dianne and I snapped pictures all the time. We got great shots! But, that was just the beginning of our Sagada adventure.
Upon arrival at the poblacion, we immediately met Manang Julia, the landlady at St. Joseph’s Resthouse. She’s such an easy person to talk to. She gave us great discount to our lodgings as well. Thanks to Roderick Ramos, my friend and colleague, who inspired me to go to Sagada with Dianne in the first place.
There were seven of us city slickers, six from Manila and one from New Orleans. We were tourists in a place where time moved in slow motion. No rush. No hurry. It was so easy to tell us apart, what with Dianne and her strong American features standing out the locals looked and wondered. Then, with a knowing smile, we were labeled in their eyes – lowlanders. Yes, the Sagadians were a friendly lot but they keep a certain distance from new comers. We were welcomed and were treated rightfully though. Then again, I could not help but feel like a stranger in my own country.
At the municipal hall, we talked to the assigned personnel at the information center for tours and registration duties. A minimal fee is needed to do this – only 20 pesos and you could pick your choice of Sagada adventure. While the idea of trekking, caving and seeing the sights fermented in our minds, our stomachs got the better of us. So, we headed to the nearby Masferre Café for a late lunch. The restaurant is family owned. Eduardo Masferre is a Spanish Mestizo known for his photographic art of the Cordillera people. His photos chronicled and depicted the Cordillera way of life and culture. What could not be described in words, Masferre captured in photos. Some of his photos were exhibited on one wall for costumers to look and see while waiting to be served. His son, the youngest (I think) manages the restaurant. Patricia Masferre, granddaughter of the master, waited and served us lunch.
It must be the twelve-hour bus ride, the sleepy mood that enveloped the locality and the long wait for lunch that made us lethargic. We canceled the afternoon’s activity for a few hours of rest. We wanted to hit the caves in the late afternoon but a downpour kept us in our rooms. Dinner was at Café St. Joe. The cold climate made me order another mug of mountain tea. This became my staple drink in our three days and two nights stay in Sagada. I was not the only one who fell in love with the tea. My companions bought dozens of mountain tea packs for home and pasalubong.