Bekigan… Rice Terraces? or House Terraces? Could Be Both!?

The final leg of my North Luzon Loop trip is from Tuguegarao to Baguio via Sagada. That is about 300 kms of twisty, mountain roads along majestic mountain ridges and marvelous rice terraces. Ever since I entered Kalinga, I have been asking the locals for directions to Sagada. It doesn’t seem to make sense to them. It occurred to me that these locals doesn’t travel that far they really have no idea where I’m trying to get go. They might know Sagada but it seems too complex to them they often respond with something to the line of: “Sagada?? You have to get to (name of town/village they are more familiar with) first… then… then…”

bekigan_cover

Oftentimes, “Sadanga” always gets mentioned. I got used to the locals using Sadanga as a point of reference that when I was asked in Tinglayan where I am headed, I automatically answered “Sadanga” instead of “Sagada”. Hearing it often somehow set my mind that “I am going to Sadanga.” Really!? I am?? “Kapit Dhona, “Sadanga” (anagram: Sagad Na!) na to!!


When I was hearing or reading “Lubuagan” or “Tinglayan” earlier on this trip, I remembered them as “my route”. Meaning, I would pass through them, get to see their way of life, meet people, take pictures along the way… that kind of touristy stuff. And I did. I even stayed overnight on a deserted inn just so I won’t miss out what the place is about. I was expecting that to happen for Sadanga.

The road is mostly paved upon entering Mountain Province.

The road is mostly paved upon entering Mountain Province.

The bridges looked sturdy too.

The bridges looked sturdy too.

The typical scenery along the way.

The typical scenery along the way.

The Chico River is very tame during this dry season.

The Chico River is very tame during this dry season.

 A swimming pool by the river.. Nice!

A swimming pool by the river.. Nice!

I was having a wonderful time in the Cordilleras and I have seen nothing except how beautiful it is. My curiosity was aroused once more when I saw a “colorful” landslide in the distance. I was disgusted when I had a closer look. Someone has been pocketing a portion of the waste disposal budget. Cutting the trip short to the proper dumping site just so you can have the gas money? Bastards!!

Even this remote community is not safe from greed.

Even this remote community is not safe from greed.

I needed to stitch a few shots to make this fit into a single picture. This one is huge!

I needed to stitch a few shots to make this fit into a single picture. This one is huge!

And so is this mountain ridge. Notice how tiny that house is.

And so is this mountain ridge. Notice how tiny that house is.

a part of the road I'm about to pass through (soon or maybe later).

a part of the road I’m about to pass through (soon or maybe later).

Then, there was a fork on the road. I asked a group of people waiting on a shed where the dirt road leads to. I have an idea where but I was hoping for a different answer. Sadly, they have confirmed it leads to Sadanga. I was partly in denial so I challenged them with another question. “Sadanga is all the way up there?” Again, yes. I was skeptic because the terrain in this area were brutally mountainous than before and its sides were very steep.

cemented road to Bontoc, dirt road to Sadanga

cemented road to Bontoc, dirt road to Sadanga

I asked a few more questions.

Passable? Yes.
Rough road? Yes, all they way up. Under construction.
How far? (different answers in different units by different modes of travel)
Can I get to Bontoc from Sadanga? Nope, it’s a dead end.

Time check: 08:45 AM. Plenty o’ time!

I started making my way up the dusty, steep road and it got high real fast.

I started making my way up the dusty, steep road and it got high real fast.

Just barely a kilometer and I have already climbed about 200 feet.

Just barely a kilometer and I have already climbed about 200 feet.

After climbing for about 10 minutes, I have reached Sadanga Poblacion. It’s just over 2 kilometers from the main road but I have already climbed 300 meters. What does that mean? Have you been to Tagaytay via Emilio Aguinaldo Highway? It’s an uphill ride majority of the time, right? Well, Tagaytay is also 300 meters higher than Silang, Cavite but it takes 13 kms to climb that high. Sadanga takes you that high in TWO KILOMETERS! Mind. Blown.

Just as I was getting used to the altitude, Bekigan Rice Terraces came into view together with Sadanga Poblacion proper.

bekigan_poblacion

Courtesy of Bing Maps. You have outdone Google Maps on this one!

Courtesy of Bing Maps. You have outdone Google Maps on this one!

I was surprised how populated Sadanga is. I was expecting way less houses than this.

I was surprised how populated Sadanga is. I was expecting way less houses than this.

This met my expectations. :)

This met my expectations. 🙂

The main road is probably over this hill.

The main road is probably over this hill.

When I got farther down the road I saw the rest of the town. I was amused how they have put up their houses ON the rice terraces. It makes sense but it’s still odd. Most of the terraces I have seen would have a cluster of houses nearby but this is the first time I have seen the community “take over” the farming land this extensively. That’s why I created that demotivational poster above because to me, it looked like as if the houses were planted and grown on the terraces together with the palay (rice). If I ask a resident for his address I’m very sure the reply would be like: “Oh, I live at Ridge 2 Slope 8 Platform 44, Bekigan Rice Terraces, Sadanga. It’s near Puregold Sadanga being constructed at Slope 7 Platforms 40-55“.

bekigan_view

Have you seen Batman Begins? Remember the scene where Batman was evading the cops by driving the Batmobile on rooftops? Here, hold my beer and watch this!

Have you seen Batman Begins? Remember the scene where Batman was driving the Batmobile on rooftops? Here, hold my beer and watch this!

Had I continued, I would have fallen down the stairs.

Had I continued, I would have fallen down the stairs.

I turned around and started to head out of town. All the while, the road is either a slippery descent down the sandy, cemented road or an uncertain, struggle uphill and yet Dhona insisted on a solo picture. Beyond Sadanga Poblacion, is Brgy. Belwang perched almost at the summit of a mountain.

 Notice the group of houses at the top right corner, that's Brgy Belwang. Oh what a treat it would be to hike up there!

Notice the group of houses at the top right corner, that’s Brgy Belwang. Oh what a treat it would be to hike up there!

Zooming Brgy Belwang. Can you see the chapel?

Zooming Brgy Belwang. Can you see the chapel?

We slowly climbed our way out of the poblacion and I stopped to check on Dhona. I was assessing our weight distribution. I would the “rappelling” 300m in 2kms on unstable surfaces back to the main road. Going up earlier was a struggle but I was in control most of the time. Gravity helps. Whereas things could get ugly in a flash going downhill. I know because I already crashed once rolling down the road at a slow speed. My mind was busy running simulations of the downhill ride, I didn’t notice a fellow rider has approached me. He suggested insisted I go to Brgy. Sacasacan to see Focong Rice Terraces. *Facepalm!* I thought the terraces I have been marveling at were the Bekigan AND Focong. In fact, I asked a resident in Poblacion. (In Tagalog) Is this Bekigan and Focong Rice Terraces? YES (*smiles*) Which one is which? YES (*smiles*) Hhmm, which one again? YES. (*smiles).

bekigan_tosacasacan

I looked at the direction where the man was pointing. It’s not a road! I can’t even call it a dirt trail. It’s a pile of rocks, that’s what it is. He laughed it off and assured me he regularly takes that path. (Yeah dude, on your Honda XR200 Dirt Bike with tires twice the width I have. He even gave me a little shoo gesture as if coaxing a kid to approach a pitbull and pet it. As I clawed my way up over the rocks, I can hear gravel being spewed by the rear tire as it spun more times than the front tire. It was the hardest 100-meter climb I ever did.

I was so relieved it was over but I know I would have to deal with the return trip later on. I didn’t wan’t to spoil the moment after the sweet victory so continued excitedly to Sacas…. SON OF A *#$&%^..?!?!

Acrophobia attack!! The white, wavy line at the right is not a snake on the bushes. It's a 2-lane road 300 meters below.

Acrophobia attack!! The white, wavy line at the right is not a snake on the bushes. It’s a 2-lane road 300 meters below.

Some 2-foot tall mound of gravel-sand is blocking the way. Some genius flattened a portion of it so it would be low enough for a motorcycle to pass through. BUT WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU CHOOSE THAT SIDE!!?! If you were me, what would you do?

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About Dom de la Torre

The rider is a 20-something Filipino that rides a Honda Wave 125cc underbone. He knows little about motorcycles yet loves the experience going places on two wheels. Rider Ako is a motorcycle-slash-travel blog. The rider not only shares to you travel destinations and what to see there but also the experience of getting there. You will read about the thrills and adventure when he rides solo, the romance of riding in tandem, the camaraderie riding with a group, the excitement participating in events, and anything that he thinks you might find interesting.When he's broke and the fuel's empty, he will share stories about motorcycling how he sees it through his helmet visor.
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3 Responses to Bekigan… Rice Terraces? or House Terraces? Could Be Both!?

  1. Crazy trail, you went farther then I could have. Keep safe….

  2. sairielrose says:

    i love how you blog about your ride (y) 4 thumbs up with my feet 🙂

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