Sagada and the double rainbow high

The first time I saw a double rainbow, I cried.

Hello electric cable wires
I would not have been that emotional if the setting was somewhere else, but of all places that two rainbows could pop up, it had to be in Sagada. This is a small town up in the Mountain Province whose charm has captivated me ever since I first set foot in December 2008. I went with three of my friends and even while we were still on the way to the town proper, I was already swept away by the amazing view of pine trees and rice terraces.
At The Lemon Pie House

Two years later, in the summer of 2010, I planned a trip with my former officemates who gladly agreed to go to Sagada. The itinerary was as packed as I wanted it to be (sorry guys!) but during one afternoon it rained hard that we were forced to stay in our room. When the rain died down a bit, I asked Mickey to come with me to buy a box of freshly baked lemon pie. And there it was! Right behind the houses and the pine trees were two vivid rainbows so near, I swear the pots of gold were just somewhere in the Echo Valley. All of a sudden I found everything overwhelming: the glistening leaves, the dampness of the wind, the gray clouds, the empty street, and in the midst of the gloom, a sudden burst of color was painted on the horizon. It was just too beautiful that it moved me to tears. 

A few months after that trip, a friend showed me the Double Rainbow video in Youtube. That was exactly how I felt, minus the screaming part. I feel you Paul Vasquez! That same unexplainable sheer joy. Or maybe I experienced a slight Stendhal syndrome.

The double rainbow high I experienced even strengthened my fascination with the place and its people. In 2008, Braille was my group's guide and after 2 years, I got in touch with him. I learned that he was already working here in Manila but when I asked if he could recommend someone to be our guide, he said he would come home and take us. It felt like meeting an old friend and it was great catching up with him after 2 years - he quit his job as a teacher and is now working for BJMP in Manila.

This time I asked Braille, "If someday I won the lottery and had extra can I buy a house here?". Well, apparently, aside from me winning the lottery, I needed to wed an Igorot. He said the lands can only be bought by the Igorots. If I wanted to, I could rent a house but not own it. I don't know if that has changed now but I thought that as a good way of preserving the place and keeping the community and its culture intact.

Aside from the lush greeneries, cold temperature, and various activities that one can do in Sagada, another one that I like most are its people, the Igorots. Whenever I am in a new place I usually do not like people coming up to me, and in Sagada, they give you just that. The locals give you your time and space, leave you to your business, but the moment you speak to them, they are most warm and welcoming. The locals treat guests with respect and so, guests should treat them with the same level of regard. One thing that I noticed is that some locals are offended when their pictures are taken, so as a show of respect, ask for permission before taking a photo. The town also has a 9PM curfew. Since we guests are merely observers in Igorot lands, we are expected to follow the rules. The Igorot culture is very much alive in the town, with the ancient rituals still performed most especially during events like weddings and burials.

It is a small municipality packed with activities like spelunking in a series of cave connections, trekking to Bomod-ok Falls and to the hanging coffins at Echo Valley, climbing Mt. Ampacao, and camping at Lake Danum. All of those might seem like high-impact activities but Sagada is also perfect for long walks and early morning jogs just in time to catch the sunrise. The restaurants serve fresh, crisp vegetables so good that I gobble them all up, but when I'm in Manila, I rarely touch them veggies. The provinces up north does wonders to me.

Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak

I was browsing through my photos trying to find the one that would really sum up Sagada for me but as it turns out, I have not taken a single good photo of Sagada. That is one great reason to come back.

I wish to wake up again to cold mornings, jog around a bit, then go the nearest coffee shop for a cup of Alamid. For breakfast, I will go to Masferre for a plate of tapa, brown rice, a handful of veggies, and a steaming cup of hot choco. After breakfast, I will walk towards Echo Valley and see the fog coming out of my breath. In the late afternoon, I will go to that garden where I can pick oranges and eat as much I can. At night, I will go back to that place with a name that I don't remember but I imagine Bob Marley will be blasting and the ambiance of the place will still be dark and artsy. The next day, I will see the Chico River and on the way I will get myself a box of lemon pie from The Sagada Lemon Pie House. I have not tried dining at the Log Cabin yet, so the next time I go back, I will be calling for  a reservation.

OK. I am making a mental list of the things I will do when I see you again, Sagada.  But for now, I need to stop wanderlusting.

The group at the cauliflower stalactite formation  
Me going up to the Sumaging Cave exit
The coffins at the Lumiang cave entrance
The group at Bomod-Ok Falls

Echo Valley
Lemon House
Cave photos are all from Mickey's album.

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