Day 1: Manila to Mt. Santo Tomas via Tubao
Date: February 17, 2014
Route Taken: Taguig – Bulacan – Pampanga – Tarlac – Pangasinan – La Union – Baguio via Asin Rd. – Mt. Sto. Tomas
Almost every year, as a year starter, I always try to find spare time to travel on place or route that is new to me. And this time, I choose it to be in the mountainous area to feel the cold weather before the heat of the summer comes. And it is in the mountains of Cordillera and Sierra Madre.
A week before, I already prepared the bike by bringing it to the motorcycle mechanic for tune-up, replace the rubber, align the wheel and even replacing the bearings and the speedometer gear.
A night before takeoff, I was still busy reviewing the map and reading some articles regarding the places that I will be going. Adding the high energy level and great excitement, it was a sleepless night for me until I noticed that it is already 2 o ‘clock in the morning. No more time for me to have a nap, so I start preparing myself and pack my things.
Four in the morning, I heat-up the engine, took the saddle and hit the road heading north. Somewhere in Pampanga, I started to feel sleepy and a bit dizzy. From time to time, I pull over to the shoulder to have at least a minute of rest.
At the start, a minute of rest is helping me, but as the sun goes up, I can’t resist closing my eyes and there are instances that I need to pull-over to gasoline stations to have a nap or coffee break.
Slowly, kilometer by kilometer, minute by minute, I made it to Rosario La Union where I had my lunch and 30 minutes break which really helped me to recharge. There I also refueled the bike before hitting the off-road of Tubao La Union.
From Tubao, my sleepy eyes didn’t showed anymore as I enjoyed the beautiful sceneries of the mountains, river, streams and other landmarks along Asin Road going up to Baguio.
Tuba River in front of Tuba National High School:
Asin Road Tunnel:
Mini-falls along Asin Road:
Shrine of Brown Madonna:
I just go straight the Asin Rd. and it ended me up in Marcos Highway in Baguio. I decided not to go to Baguio proper to avoid the traffic congestion in the area, and instead headed the way to the road to Mt. Santo Tomas.
The first time I went on this mountain is during our educational trip in college. Mt. Santo Tomas is where telecommunications, relay stations and radio communication towers are located to have a good elevation. During that time, I was able to reach the summit of Mt. Santo Tomas by foot. So this time, I told to myself, I want to go up there with my motorcycle.
Reaching the summit with my bike is not that easy. The rocky trail with a bit of inclination is already technical terrain for me. I experienced falling on my bike, but it didn’t stop me from achieving my personal goal for today, to reach the summit with my bike. And I did it.
Pictures from the summit of Mt. Santo Tomas:
After bunch of photo shoots at the summit, I decided to go down right just before the sun sets to Mt. Cabuyao where there’s a secured area to pitch your tent which they call, “Picmar Heritage Lodge”. You can rent a room for minimum of 2 persons worth P1200. But I choose to rent a space for my tent worth only P150.
I ate my dinner and had some beers which I bought in Marcos Highway before going up. Past 10PM when I hit the sack and enjoyed sleeping in a very cold and breezy mountain of Cordillera.
:: END OF DAY 1 ::
Day 2: Mt. Santo Tomas to Sagada via Kabayan
Date: February 18, 2014
Route Taken: Mt. Santo Tomas – Baguio – Binga Dam – Ambuklao Dam – Bokod – Kabayan – Buguias – Mountain Province – Sagada
Already awake past 6am, but went out of the bag around 7am. Had a coffee from a vending machine at the house of the caretaker, took pictures of the beautiful sunrise and roam around.
Inclusion of the P150 tent space fee is a free use of their bathroom. I would like to take a shower first before departing but it is still very cold at this early morning, so I decided to go to the highest point of this mountain where the PAGASA radar is located, by running to heat me up.
From that location, you can have the overlooking view of Western side of Pangasinan with the West Philippine Sea in the background. At the Northwest side, added to the view is the man-made lake of Mt. Cabuyao which I believe they use this as a water source for their plants and crops. And of course at the opposite side in the South direction is Mt. Santo Tomas.
After I heated up, I can almost tolerate the cold water to have a bath. Past 9am when I break camp and packed my things. Wave goodbye to the caretaker and hit the road again heading Northeast via Ambuklao road.
Part of the plan is to visit Binga Dam which I haven’t been before. Binga Dam is a 9km off-road from the main road, so it added-up additional 18kms on my off-road adventure.
After few more pictures and some minutes of rest at Binga Dam, I travel back to the main road heading Ambuklao Dam.
After Ambuklao Dam, I continued riding heading Northeast then turn left going to Bokod Benguet. In Daclan, Bokod, there is another 2km side trip from the main road to visit the “Badekbek Sulfur Spring”. This is a high temperature natural spring where you can see it is actually boiling and you can see its smoke even from a far. Visitors are joking on it that if a pig or cattle accidentally dropped on this boiling water, it can immediately cooked and ready to eat.
Few more pictures and I went back to the main road again. Passed-by the intersection going to Mt. Pulag and continued riding towards Kabayan, Benguet, where they are saying that old mummies are still culturally preserved.
Unfortunately, for me to see the good preserved mummies, I need to hire a guide and hike 2 hours going on top of the mountain, but I’m in a time constraint. So I just went to the mummy museum within the town proper. But… it’s really unfortunate that the museum is closed today because the caretaker went out of town. So I just had my pictures of the museum outside without even a sneak of the said mummies [but I told to myself that I will be back and I will go up to the mountain to see those mummies].
Had some rest in the area, took my lunch of chocolate and bread then continue riding intended going to Mountain Province via Buguias, Benguet.
I can’t really tell if this is another misfortune because I got lost and I found myself approaching Ifugao area. I missed the intersection going to Buguias 30mins away. But the good thing happen is I got an opportunity to see and have some pictures of this lake which they called “Tabeo Lake”.
Asked the locals for the correct direction and it made me went back to the correct track. I arrived in Mountain Province boundary at around 4:30PM.
Past 8pm when I arrived in Sagada Poblacion safe. There is another misfortune of flat tire experience in total darkness, but still managed to find help from the locals.
Town of Sagada has local ordinance that establishments and restaurants are closing at exactly 9PM, so the first thing I did after securing my lodging is looked for my dinner. Was able to have 2 bottles of beer then took the bed at 10PM and enjoyed sleeping in the cold night on a more comfortable bed compared to last night for only P250.
:: END OF DAY 2 ::