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…”
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.
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!!
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.
I asked a few more questions.
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!
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.
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“.
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.
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).
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 *#$&%^..?!?!
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?