It rained almost everyday the week of our trip to Sagada. The trip’s been planned months back and in retrospect, I made a token attempt to organize it. I did the motion of creating an itinerary mostly based on research and from suggestions from friends who’ve already been there.
Surprisingly though, despite all the time I had and my fondness for organizing things, everything ended up being left to chance. It all began to sink in to me after Badette and I discovered the day before our trip that the next day’s Manila-Bontoc bus was already fully-booked. It was then that it dawned on me that I haven’t prepared for it in my usual no-stone-left-unturned approach.
But what surprised me most at that point was the feeling that I really didn’t seem to mind at all. I seemed to have firmly planted myself already on that “I don’t care” zone that I find myself becoming more and more resigned most of the time. I guess that made it much easier to shift to Plan B, a plan I never seriously considered since I started “planning” the trip.
I realized that if the buses were fully-booked then the inns would definitely be our next challenge. True enough, as Badette and I began calling inns to try book rooms, we were informed that the inns were likewise fully-booked. Less than 24 hours before we left, we had no bus and room reservations. The weather wasn’t cooperating either, it kept raining and I seriously began to think if I was crazy not to postpone the trip.
It didn’t’ come as a surprise to me when some of the people who previously confirmed decided not to go. I was determined to go and that was it. I needed the time to be away, to be somewhere I can reconnect with myself, far from a reality that I fear has reshaped me into something I hardly understand.
The rain stopped a few hours before we left. I took it as a good omen. The afternoon sun broke through the clouds, not as bright and sunny as I wanted, but it made its reassuring presence felt. I knew in my heart I was meant to make that trip. This was when things began picking up. Ate Dora of George’s Guest House texted me that there’s an available cottage and that she can reserve it for me if I want. It has two bedrooms, each with its own comfort room; a kitchen, a dining area, a sala with cable TV, and a fireplace. I would have settled for a bare room but instead something much much better came. The universe was already conspiring to make the trip possible.
Smooth and easy wouldn’t be an apt description for that serendipitous experience. It was adventure at its best. It was like being thrown a line that lead to rediscovering that the happiest things occur in the most simple and ordinary experiences. I was lucky to be joined by friends who were open souls, people who welcome different experiences with open arms.
All the adventure, fun, and challenges began at that bus station where we stood in line for hours only to find out when we were at the end that they don’t have buses leaving until early morning the following day. Having resourceful friends helped because after splitting up, the other two found us a bus and after some fast running we made it inside just as it was pulling out of the station.
From that moment on, it was all a series of fortunate happenstance. Even the changes in the itinerary made the experience more of a beautiful learning experience. I think if we knew better, we wouldn’t have scheduled the hiking to Bomod-ok Falls and spelunking in Cave Connection at the same day. Instead, that lack of knowledge made me ponder a lot of things and appreciate how environment and culture can help solidly shape admirable character in people.
That brief visit up north was something I'll always remember. I'm thinking, Sagada is one of those places you don’t visit...you experience it.