The chilly weather is here again and this made me miss Sagada. This small tranquil town in the Cordillera Mountains claimed its place in my heart with its laidback atmosphere, cool weather, luscious foods, warm and welcoming locals, rich culture, and of course its unique natural beauty.
Traveling from Bicol to Sagada was not a joke at all! Nine hours of bus ride from Naga to Manila and almost seven hours of van ride from Manila to Sagada - that's a total of 16 hours of land travel (oh the horrors of my aching bottom and cramped legs)! But it's all worth it! Ginusto namin to eh. Haha!

We availed a travel agency tour for this so we spent around P7,000 all-in for 3D2N: P1,300 for the round trip bus ride from Naga to Manila; P3,000 for the tour itself which includes transportation from Manila to Sagada vv; accommodation and fees for the places we will be visiting; and P2,700 for our food, pasalubong, and other expenses.
Expect a tour full of nature tripping - trekking, cave exploring, and a lot of hiking. Best to prepare active wear for the treks and hikes (preferably rashguards and leggings), comfy shoes, loads of water for hydrating, waterproof bags for your gadgets, and thick jackets for those who have low tolerance for cold temperatures like me.
For those planning to visit Sagada, here are some activities that you can try:

1. Hike to Bomod-ok Falls
We are dropped off to Brgy. Banga-an which is the starting point of the hike. A local tour guide accompanied us plus hiking sticks were provided. The one hour trek to the falls was fairly easy for us - we enjoyed the scenery specially the rice terraces, we also got to know some local culture/practices when we passed through a small barangay, and of course, we took a lot of pictures. Once we arrived, some took a dip in the VERY cold waters of Bomod-ok falls which is also locally known as the "Big Falls" due to its size. I decided not to dive in the waters because, as I have said, I have a low tolerance for cold and I might freeze to death. Hahaha. So I just enjoyed the scenery which was more than enough!
On our way back, our guide told us that there's a shortcut back to the dropoff point. Being millennials who prefer having things as fast as Taylor changes partners (LOL), we decided to take that path. While in the middle of our trek back, we started to regret our decision. Though the steps are cemented already, it was very VERY steep and tough to climb! I'm not exaggerating but that could have been the death of me! Here's a good advice: Do not be fooled by the "shortcut"!

2. Watch the Kiltepan Viewpoint sunrise and sea of clouds
We woke up around 3am and waited until 5am just to see this view. You can experience the famous sea of clouds and as the sun slowly rises, the picturesque view of the overlapping mountains from afar and the beautiful rice terraces of Sagada slowly emerges.
Due to the popularity of the place because of the movie "That Thing called Tadhana", expect a flock of tourists when you visit. I was quite frustrated, not because of the crowded place, but because tourists just leave their trash after enjoying the sunrise. Please bear in mind that it's our personal responsibility to keep these tourist spots still as beautiful.
3. Spelunking at Lumiang Burial Cave and Sumaguing Cave
Sagada is well-known for these two caves which are perfect for adventurous tourists who want to have an extreme cave experience. Sadly, we decided to skip this because we got too exhausted with the previous day's activity. Instead, we just visited Lumiang Cave's entrance which serves as the burial place of Sagada's native ancestors. Wooden coffins are stacked one after another creating a great wall that signifies how rich their culture is.
The photo on the left shows some of the tourist entering the cave's mouth which is the start point of the Cave Connection activity which offers an advanced spelunking experience from Lumiang Cave to Sumaguing Cave.
4. Get the full "Tadhana" feels at Gaia Cafe
Gaia Cafe also gained popularity because some of the scenes from That Thing Called Tadhana was shot here. Aside from that, its cliffside location gives customers a fantastic view of Sagada. The owner's house can also be seen below and you would wish to have the same vacation house for yourself. They serve healthy sandwiches, pastas, and coffee. What's good about Gaia Cafe is that their ingredients are locally grown by the owners themselves. They promote local art and products to boot. A must-try is their peanut butter and banana sandwich! Promise masarap!

5. Drop by Sagada Lemon Pie House and try their (what else?) famous lemon pie
One of the most visited restos is the Sagada Lemon Pie House. They are known for their lemon pies and their bountiful serving of rice meals. I recommend dining here after a tiring hiking activity because you will feast on a plateful serving of their delicious meals!
6. Visit the Hanging Coffins of Echo Valley
The Hanging Coffins is an iconic place in Sagada. It is just amazing and creepy at the same time to see it up close. I really got curious on how they hung them high up at the side of the mountain. They believed that placing the dead in a high-resting place will get take them closer to God. They also put the dead in a fetal position which symbolizes new life, thus the short coffins - one may think that it's a child that's inside those but those are fully grown adults whose knees have been folded to its chin. Though this might seem odd to some, respecting the culture of Sagadans is a must. We were advised not to shout during the trek in Echo Valley since it is still the resting place of the departed.

7. Try the locally brewed coffee at Sagada Brew
Sagada Brew offers some of the best coffee, pastas, and desserts. This place is perfect for an afternoon tambay.
8. Buy some souvenirs and "pasalubongs" at Sagada Weaving
Of course we didn't leave Sagada without souvenirs and pasalubong. We visited Sagada Weaving where native handmade textiles were made into bags, wallets, keychains, and more. It's mesmerizing to see how the fabric is made. Taking pictures is prohibited in the weaving area, but really, just take my word for it!

That's it! I hope you find this post helpful. If you have been to Sagada, feel free to comment your tips and suggestions, too. I'd love to hear from you!
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Pacific X-treme Combat (PXC), the premier mixed martial arts events company in the Asia-Pacific region, presents Laban MMA, a provincial MMA development league aid at discovering local MMA fighters who have the potential for a successful career in the sport. Laban MMA provides a starting point for fighters on their career path to become an international pro fighter who can compete and succeed on the world stage.
To bring the spotlight to our Bicolano fighters, PXC Laban MMA hosted #LabanMMABicol last September 10, 2016 at The Tent, Avenue Plaza Hotel. The event was officially part of the Peñafrancia 2016 festivities and fighters around the Bicol were invited.
Here are some of the photos I took during the event and the official results:
Danilo Sarmiento Jr. defeats Diego Offemaria via K.O
Khen Marques defeats Mark Fabriga via Submission
Bryan Ayao defeats Joven Baclao via Submission
Genil Francisco defeats Jason Margallo via Decision
Jaybee Ban-eg defeats Joemy Miado via Decision
 Jonathan Noble defeats Jupiter Lora via Decision
John Libuit defeats Jake Baylon via Decision
Jimboy Panlita defeats Herbert Locre via K.O
Kier Biron defeats Don Don Gonzales via DQ
 Main Event
Raymon Doliguez defeats Arlan Faurillo via TKO

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There's nothing better than having a great cup of coffee in the morning. Have you once wondered the story behind your cup? I honestly didn't until we were invited to visit one of the newest cafés here in Naga - Single Ancestry. This café is living up to its name by exposing its customers to the origin of their products, focusing more on the star of the show - their specialty coffee.
 So what's the difference between specialty coffee and the regular coffee that we buy? First thing that we would notice is their packaging. Commercial coffee is already grounded and packed. Specialty coffee, on the other hand, is bought by bulk or by pounds of whole beans and needs to be ground before it is brewed.

What's so special about specialty coffee then? Since specialty coffees are brewed right in front of you, it gives more opportunity for consumers to participate in the creation of their pleasurable drink. Aside from the distinct taste of specialty coffees, it's also good for our health. Studies show that its health benefits include reduced risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's, dementia, and prevents various cancers.
I have learned a couple of things on coffee making during our visit. Each step of the process should be handled with the best possible care and knowledge. Coffee travels a long and complicated journey from farm to café. There are many things being considered from the start of growing and processing of the beans. Single Ancestry's baristas pointed out that the climate, altitude, and the crops around the coffee farms can affect the taste of the coffee. More than that, roasting, grinding, and brewing the coffee are also essential. Coffee brewing itself is a "science" that café baristas spend their lives studying about. One mistake and you will ruin the word 'specialty'.

Single Ancestry imports their coffee beans from Dubai. They offer a variety of coffee beans such as El Salvador Finca Bosque LYA, Ethiopian Rocko Mountain Reserved Haricha, and Brazillian Fazenda Ferrero. Customers can choose their most preferred brewing method for their caffeine fix. Their baristas will also give you a short coffee know-how for you to appreciate your drink a little more. They aim to improve Bicol's palate in coffee drinking. Price range would be from P100 to P150.
The café interior is a combination of black and white with a touch of earthly brown. The design gives an industrial feel and their walls are adorned by artworks of Naga's best artists (Hi friends! Haha.)

Aside from specialty coffee, they also have craft beers from Nipa Brew which are shipped out from Manila and all have distinct tastes that you should try! If you are not so much of a coffee guy, they also have the Starburst tea (left photo) that I have fallen in love with. I just have to say this in Filipino para intense - Super bango nya, promise! I don't usually like teas, but this one's an exemption.

Single Ancestry's head barista is Mark Kenneth Santos who already gained titles in his respective field. His trophies displayed inside the café is a testament to that. Let me just emphasize that - In this place, your drink will be prepared by people who take coffee seriously.
This café is for coffee lovers, coffee geeks, or just someone who wants to enjoy their cup with something a little extra like some coffee education. Visit them at Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City, just beside Petron gas station

Remember, before taking the first sip, take a second and appreciate the long journey your coffee has traveled. Take time to appreciate this delicate art.
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