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Monday, January 30, 2012

Sagada Mountain Province Travel Guide: Nature and Aventure at their Purest

Located on the northern mountain of Luzon is Sagada, the fifth municipal city in Mountain Province, Philippines.  It is adjacent to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province.  Although Sagada only occupies 32.2 square meters, it is a popular tourist place for its cool weather, food, native culture and wide range of adventure activities.  Sagada is a laid back and serene place.  The town sleeps as early as 9:00 pm.  Electricity is available in  Sagada.  For connectivity, both Smart (also Smart Bro WiFi) and Globe are available in the area.  In case you need an internet, there are internet cafes charging around 40 php per hour.  The sole bank in  Sagada is the Rural Bank of Sagada where a Megalink automated teller machine (ATM) is available but charges rates at 55 php. (NOTE: It only accepts local credit cards)
sagada map

Sagada Map

Sagada Climate
Due to its elevation, Sagada generally has a cool climate even during the rainy (May to October) and sunny (November to April) seasons.  The coldest weather is during December until February where the temperature averages to 13 degrees Celsius during the night.    Due to a high humidity of around 89%,  Sagada is also a foggy place.

Sagada Trip Budget
The Budget for a Sagada Trip  ranges from 3,000 php to 5,000 php.  Your  Sagada Trip Budget should include allocations for the following:
Sagada Trip Itinerary
There are two options in making your Sagada Trip Itinerary:

1. Avail a tour with a planned out itinerary from travel and tours companies
2. Plan you itinerary by considering the following:
    a. Sagada Trip Samples Itineraries
    b. Sagada Activities: 
  • Register at  Sagada Tourist Center  
    • This is compulsory and must be the first thing you do!
  • Balangagan Cave   
  • Bokong Falls (small falls)  
  • Bomod-ok (big falls) (20 mins. drive or 2 hour walk) ( 1 and half hour trek) 
    • One of the most beautiful falls in the Philippines.  This can be viewed upon passing by the Sagada rice terraces.  You can swim in its icy cold waters but best with the assistance of a guide.  A girl from Manila drowned here in 2008.
  • Buasao Trek (4 to 5 hours trek)  
  • Demang Village  
  • Echo Valley 
    • Pass by the public cemetery and reach Echo Valley to view the hanging coffins and the village laid upon the large limestone cliffs.  Shout and hear your voice echo!
  • Ganduyan Museum   
    • Christina Aben's collection of rich the rich culture of the Cordillera Igorots
  • Kiltepan Tower (10 mins. drive or 30-45 walk)  
    • This highest point is named after the three bounding barangays: Kilong, Tetep-An, and Antadao.  View the sunrise or sunset from here and appreciate the beauty of nature.  Also enjoy a panoramic view of the rice terraces.
  • Lake Danum 
    • Watch the sunset at Lake Danum and be awed by its beauty.
  • Malboro Country  
    • See wild horses and cows roam free into the fields.
  • Masferre's Studio  
    • See the powerful photos taken by Masferre.
  • Pongas Falls (1 and half drive)  
    • The newest addition to Sagada's tourist attraction.  It a new experience where you will pass by Suyo rice terrace, go on river trekking and trekking through the narrow mountain trails.  Better if you do this early so you can still try rappelling.
  • Sagada Rice Terraces  
  • Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves/Cave Connections (2 to 3 hours if  Sumaguing only; Cave connections to 4-6 hours) 
    • These are two interconnecting limestone caves for you to enjoy one of the best spelunking adventures of your lives.  These are just novice level spelunking so even Senior Citizen and kids.  But, hiring guides are a must!  There are also coffins at the entrance of Lumiang Cave so they call it Burial Cave.
  • Sagada Weaving House  
  • Sagada Pottery House  
  • St. Mary's Church 
  • White Water Rafting
  • Latang Underground River  
    • This is another way to Sumaguing Caves.  You can view rock minerals and ancient corals.

Hope this Travel Tripsters Sagada Mountain Province Trip Guide Helps!

How to Renew Your Philippine Passport from the DFA

First things first before travelling outside the country is to have your passport.  As a Filipino Citizen, I am a holder of the Philippine Passport.  If you're a Filipino citizen like me, then read along as you may find this guide helpful in renewing your Philippine Passport from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Pasay City.

How to Renew Your Philippine Passport from the Department of Foreign Affairs Pasay City

Step 1: Visit the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) website  > Consular Services > Passport Information > Passport Appointment

Step 2: Fill out the Captcha, choose whether Individual Appointment Process or Family Appointment Form and start filling in the details

Step 3: Prepare the following:
  • Print the Email from your appointment on a long bond paper
  • Photocopy Your Old Passport (front and back) 
    • NOTE: Photocopy inside DFA is 3 php/page
  • Birth certificate (if you have foreign sounding surname)

Step 4: Go to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Pasay City 30 minutes before your scheduled time.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Pasay City Map

Step 5: Proceed to Gate 2 and show the Security Guard all of your documents to be processed.

Step 6: Head over to the Appointment Verification Desk where your documents will be verified and stamped.

Step 7: Look for the the tents with seating benches and look for the sign which states your appointment time.  Wait until your batch will be allowed to enter for processing and document inspection.

Step 8:   Go out and proceed to the cashier located on the second floor to pay your receipt. (950 php exclusive of delivery fee)

Step 9: Take a number and wait a few hours.  Until your number appears on the monitor and proceed to the desk assigned. (I suggest you bring reading materials as this process takes hours)

Desk Assignment Position

Step 10:  Approach the encoding officer, hand over your receipt, check your information if it correct, smile on the camera and place your thumb mark on the scanner.  Just come back for your passport on the assigned date.

Hope this Travel Tripsters Guide on How to Renew Your Filipino Passport helps!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

SM Mall of Asia FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service

SM Mall of Asia is the second largest mall in the Philippines.  In case you want to tour around the places of the mall, you can try riding the FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service like I did.  The FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service is available everyday from 10 am to 10 pm.  Departure is approximately every 15 minutes.  It stops at each Tram Stop for approximately 1 minute.

There are a total of five Tram Stop  around the outdoor part of SM Mall of Asia.  The  FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service  just continuously goes on that route until the end of its service hours.

The Tour Shuttle is composed of four passenger rows with four seating capacity each.  There are both local and foreign passengers who ride the tour shuttle.

During the  FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service, you enjoy the view of shoppers and other happenings like this marching band.  The  FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service entire cycle last only around 15 minutes so enjoy!

My own experience with the  FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service inspired me to write this post.  Let me share the story with you.  While riding the Tram Shuttle, the driver got down to accommodate two American ladies.  He asked "Maam want to ride?"  The ladies kept on asking "To where?"  While the driver kept on replying "It's a tour".  The ladies rode but kept on asking us to where does the Tram go.  When they saw a lot of people going down, I heard them asking each other, "Should we go down now?" and they did.

Hope this post aids you in your SM Mall of Asia FREE Tour Tram Shuttle Service experience.  Till next time. =)

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