There are several organizations offering guided spelunking in Sagada and we decided to go with SAGGAS, we were hoping that we’ll met a person or two whom we can share the guide fee but good thing we did not met anyone as it will be more fun and you’ll learn a lot if the two of you has 1 guide. Gareth was our guide from SAGGAS and it cost P500 for minimum of 4 persons.
|the boys of SAGGAS (pwera ung naka blue)|
We started walking down the street and Garrett was already telling us stories about Sagada, he was one pure Sagada local and you will not feel that he is a guide, he treated us as a new acquaintance rather than a customer and he knows what he’s talking about.
|one of many burial sites|
We stopped at what seems like an observation deck and he pointed to something down the cliff and there were few coffins hanging on the rocks and some were on the floor, he said that it was one of the burial places of their ancestors but there’s a lot around Sagada.
We continued walking and he also continue telling us stories about Sagada and its people, the good thing about having a local guide is that you learn about the place, its culture and people. I never felt awkward with him unlike other guides that you cannot bear to speak because it was too awkward or uncomfortable, I commended him for his guiding skills and he said that there were 2 types of guide in Sagada, first is the hardcore guide and the second is the turo-guide (me sense of humor pa si kuya ha). He has been guiding Sagada visitors for years now, he said that he started this when he was about 10 years old and by that time they have already memorized the trails and has been to almost all of the caves in Sagada.
He then lead us to a downhill trail, another challenging trek but tolerable. It was kinda steep and I was already thinking about the way up hehe. At the end of the trail is another burial site where more coffins were stocked on top of each other, it was located at the mouth of a cave, Garrett told us that those doing the connection cave enters starts in this area and will take around 2-3 hours depending on your phase. Due to limited time and soon to be sored muscles we decided to just do the Sumaguing cave instead of the connection cave. He said that this is where they gauge physically their visitors so they’ll know how they will pace on the cave, looks like we did ok.
|entrance to the cave connection|
|another burial site|
On our way to the jump-off point of Sumaguing we passed by a zipline, we have been looking for this on our first day as we want to try it , we thought that we have walked far enough and did not find the zipline, if only we have walked even farther. We were supposed to try it after the Sumaguing cave but it was already dark when we went out of the cave.
At the jump-off point I got excited, the last time I went spelunking was back in college. According to the guide who just got out of the cave there was a good line going down and that the crew of Aga Muhlach’s Pinoy Explorer show are already inside. Not only Garreth a very good guide but also a good photographer and he willingly took the camera from me and he took our pictures, it will be better if you’ll bring an underwater camera or like us a digicam, the way down was steep and very slippery due to bat poop and you will not want to ruin your expensive dslr or tire your guide with carrying your tripods. I was surprised that Garreth knows how to set up the settings of the digicam and he told us that they also learn how to do that. According to him ideally 1 guide is good enough for 4 people but he said that it’s best if it’s only 2 people as they can fully concentrate on guiding the visitors and light their path. There was a group in front of us and I think they’re 6 in the group and their guide would go back and forth trying to light the path of those in front and come back for those at the back.
There was nothing spectacular yet at the first part of the cave aside from the bats’ poop but when Garreth told us that we need to go barefoot from where we were that’s when the beauty of nature started. The cave floor and rock formations were like made of anti-slip rocks and your feet will get a good grip and will not worry about slipping. Garreth will tell us story behind each formation with matching humor on the side and will also make you guess why it was called like that, if this was a quiz I surely flunked, my guesses were terrible even Jayjay can’t help laughing at my answers.
|curly tops?.. eenk!|
There was a part where according to Garreth those who do not wish to pass what seems like a water basin can go that route and it will lead you again to the way up. Who does not want to do that? Not us for sure, we did not travel all the way here to pass this adventure noh! But I was surprised that there were no more people following us, too bad they did not want to try it. You need to crawl inside a small opening then walk thru the walls with the help of a rope, Garreth showed us where to put our feet and where to hold (panis! Hindi man kami pinagpawisan, well si Jayjay pawisin talaga pero panis din sa kanya). The water was chest deep and was so cold (sabi ko naman senyo mahina ako sa lamig e) my teeth was chattering and I thought I felt a little numb (OA ko hehe), it was really cold and we even shouted when we touched the water and smoke comes out of our mouth and even from our clothes (we’re smoking cold!).
|maka-tyansing lang hihi|
We then saw Aga Muhlach going out of the water on his sweaters haha. Then the next portion of the cave according to Garreth was the deepest part of the cave. There was a small opening with water and he told us that it was deep and there were already people who researched how far the chamber was. We then heard people’s scream of delight and we instantly knew that Aga and his crew were seen by the other groups. The three of us continued to do our spelunking and I did not pass the opportunity to have them take my picture with Aga (pang background ko lang sila nila Bayani at Roel Santiago).
|pang background lang sila|
More rock formations were shown to us by Garreth and I remember back in college that stalactites and stalagmites if touched by human hands die because of the oil or acidity I think, Garreth told us that the rock formations were actually dead and they will not grow anymore, good thing they were able to form into imaginative things before they died. If you have a good imaginative mind you’ll be able to see a lot of things inside the cave. I did not include the other pictures as they were MTRCB-sanction worthy.
|lechon? eenk na naman!|
|naninilip? eenk! eenk! eenk!|
If you’re going to Sagada make sure to experience the Sumaguing cave it was one hell of an experience something that you will never forget, even until now I can still remember its beauty and the feel of that cold water, gggrrrrr!!!
- bring drinking water
- for girls (and girls at heart), you may want to wear leggings or jogging pants to protect your legs
- do not bring to much belongings it will just get wet and you will not need them anyway
- i think that it will be a hassle bringing dslr, digicam will do, best if it’s underwater camera