There are actually three ways to reach Sagada from Manila. The Manila-Baguio-Sagada route via Victory Liner buses, the Manila-Bontoc-Sagada route via the Cable Tours or Kasilen Transport buses, and the Manila-Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada route via Autobus or Florida Bus lines.
I chose the most convenient of the three, the Manila-Baguio-Sagada route by Victory Liner as this was my first time to visit the place and I really don’t want to complicate matters by getting lost.
After my brief rendezvous with one of my most favorite city, Baguio, I immediately headed out to the Dangwa station to catch my ride to Sagada.
Thinking I still have quite a bit of time, I was really not in a hurry. Much was my surprise then when I arrived at the Lizardo Bus station. The line for Sagada was already snaking its way into a long queue. It took me half an hour to get a ticket and another twenty before the bus finally departed at 8:15 in the morning.
There are no aircon buses to Sagada. This might be due to the weather there already being cold. It’s also nice for photographers, as shooting through the glassless windows would be no hassle at all. A window seat is a must for a ride to Sagada and fortunately, a window seat I got.
From the City of Pines, it took me another six zigzagging hours to reach Mountain Province’s jewel town. The bus wound through two-laned mountain roads, most were paved but there were still a few patches of dirt roads here and there. I can just imagine how hard driving must be at this place during the rainy season. There were quite a few landslides our bus passed by.
The view through most of the trip was very scenic. However, altitude-fearing people might do well to take the inner seats for the sheer drop at the side of the roads reaches to dizzying heights. We actually passed the highest point in our country’s road system at the Philippine Pali. I wanted to take some photos but our bus just went on like it was nothing.
The first stopover was at Atok. My iPhone GPS was conking out and I cannot get a decent internet connection at all, my only resource then was my seatmate, a Sagada local. He also informed me as I was quizzing him about our stopover that I should have my lunch right there, as it would be the last one where we can get a full meal before Sagada.
Our next stop however, was quite unexpected. One of our back tires blew up at around noon. Good thing we have double tires at the rear or we could have been in real trouble. The rest of my trip was spent snapping one-offs at the sceneries and partly dozing off.
After a while, the paved roads ended and a sign reading Sagada finally came to view. The entrance to this town looks as magical as its reputation. A single winding dirtroad climbing ever upwards with towering pine trees and low foliage coated with golden dusts along its road sides. Craggy rock formations can be seen hinting of the massive cave networks underneath this sleepy town.
After journeying fifteen hours from the metro, finally, Shangri-La.