Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Sagada Holy Week Retreat

Meet up place at around 8.30pm, in a terminal near my former university (UST). =)
Had dinner in the nearby Karinderya. (small eatery selling really cheap food! My total bill is just Php20!)

Sleeping time! At our bus...seatmates with Geo who brought her own blanket and pillow. ( I left mine =p)
The bus is full, so it's a bit uncomfortable--the cold air conditioner, the man beside me, and the bumpy ride!
But it was still an experience!

Since we have a whole night of travel, we also had lots of stopovers..to eat, to stretch, and for restroom breaks! ;-) This one is a photo of a balot vendor, with the sticker of Noynoy for President, where Geo is currently working for the campaign. =)

Hello Banaue! :D

Required vain shot, habang hindi pa chipped ang nails.

After the looong bus ride, we had breakfast in an inn in Banaue.
It's not as cold as I was expecting, but the air is cooler than Manila's. Good thing I brought extra leggings since I am Ms. Shorts! ;-) Haha!

We took a jeep from there, and had another 3-hour drive to Sagada.
But before sleeping again, we stopped by the point where we can have photo ops with the famous Banaue Rice Terraces as backdrop :-) (a former part of the 8 World Wonders)

Meals in Sagada wasn't a problem! =)
The restos are all vegetarian-friendly, since Sagada is known for it's farming.

The climate is colder too, and we had the rest of our day to just relax and rest, a few reflecting/sharing part, and just eating out! =)

Over-looking our hotel (Mapia-aw)--my first Sagada Sunset, while doing our first reflection.
Although I was set for the retreat, I was too busy and even lazy to think of my objectives for joining one.
I realized I was there to relax and to take time out of my usual "life". 
And true enough, in the end, Sagada proved to be a real breather from my daily routine!

Yoghurt House for breakfast!

This is a popular place in Sagada, especially for their fresh yoghurt!
I was used to the Fro-Yo craze in Metro Manila, but the good ol yoghurt with fresh fruits is also yummy! :D

Morning stretch! We prayed through several body movements like yoga...and it's more intimate with God because we were one with nature! =)

Lunch right away! :-) Shared table with Geo, Jamie, and Atty Tanya. =)

We were filling up since that day we will also have the biggest highlight of the Travel Retreat: the visit to the cave!
Can you guess my plate? Hehe.

For the cave adventure, we were ready to get tired and dirty--but still the whole thing was totally unexpected! We dealt not only the with mud ...but also bat poop! We used both hands to go down the really steep and slippery cave (bat poops were our best friends, then..they made the rocks less slippery. :p). We swam, hugged the rocks--and held on to our dear lives as we climbed these giant vertical stones with only ropes, each others' hands, or whatever we can catch.

"The mind wants, but the body won't participate!" (from Jamie)
I had cramps, plus wearing contact lenses was a problem on the water parts--because we had to swim in some areas (which, btw, was like being dipped in your freezer!!!). But it was a big experience! 

Still smiling after the cave adventure!

That night, Geo and I had a massage in our hotel room..the cost of P300/person was worth it! 
Then had coffee/mountain tea by the fire place with the group, and shared our cave stories--life savers/guides, the funny parts, scary parts, and even realizations. =) It was really heartwarming for a group of strangers to be open, and even lend a hand (and ear!) on times they need one--and especially even on times when we don't even ask for it out loud, but they just knew.

The next day: Prayer time on the highest point of Sagada.
It was really cold, and muscles were still hurting from the other day!
But I really love the view. Breath taking!

We have several couples in the group! 
And I learned a lot from each of them. I love that they show different kinds of love. =)
All unique, and all beautiful! 

The Prayer of Pedro Arrupe
Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is,
than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out
of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings,
how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you
know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy
and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.

A prayer shared to us by our retreat master Eric. "The fervent feeling of first love"! Nothing is more practical as breathing than in falling in love. And all I have to do is be in love with something/somebody who can influence my daily life positively. I tried reflecting on several aspects of my life and apply it to the poem: If I am in love with, let's say my career, what will I read or what will I spend most of my time with? What if I am in love with my friends? My family? With a somebody? What will affect me? And how will this affect my stands, my daily routine?

Parang "The Shack"

Another cave experience, with old coffins! This time, my knees were too tired and weak, I opted to just stay on top (after another long hike!) while watching the others take photos. Nth Realization: I know my limitations. And I am not afraid to look weak! ;-)

Geo and I rested for the rest of the day, while the others went on some lake and underground cave (because we were free to choose in this retreat! ;)).
As our reflection points for the day go: "The goal of Creation is Sabbath! Just take this time to REST"--Hey! Even God rested on the seventh day! ;-)

Had FRESH strawberry yoghurt at the market...

...And just slept for the rest of the afternoon.

Late afternoon stroll with Geo, looking through different souvenir shops before our 6pm mass.
I was wearing my I Survived Sagada shirt! :D Applause please for the Weak-knee Survivor! :D

Solemn mass on top of the mountains. =)

Dinner buffet with the group at Rock Inn. We had servings after servings of fresh veggies, sour dough wheat bread, red rice, meat and chicken for the others, coffee or tea, and yoghurt with fresh fruits for the dessert. At the table next to us, somebody was celebrating her birthday with her friends. Heard them sing Happy Birthday for her. It was really cool, and hoped I can spend one of my birthdays here with my own Barx. =)

What I enjoyed most on our last dinner in Sagada was not the bonfire...but the people I was with. =)
We had a good laugh, that the other tables thought we were high (haha!). I can't believe I was laughing that hard...after all, I was with people I barely knew! It was a real company. =) Kuya Joel said "Parang magkakakilala na tayo ng 10 years a!" (It's as if we've know each other for 10 years already!" =)

I've always believed in the saying that when you laughed too much today, expect that you'll be "crying" the next day. This passed by my mind in the middle of laughing (haha) and thought it was limiting! But the next day, Geo and I had series of lucks--booking a bus a little bit late from our group so we can go around Baguio by ourselves. Visit the Jesuit place on top of the grotto, ate lunch and had hot choco at Coffee by the Ruins, went to Mines View park for some photo ops, shopped for strawberries, knitted garments, peanut brittle, and choco flakes to take home for our families, and strolled around SM Baguio. Everything went fine!

It was unbelievably a good day! Till on our 6-8 hour ride that night, our bus had engine problems, and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere for 2-hours! We slept most of the time, till I can't breathe because the aircon was off, you can't open the bus windows, plus the passengers were all uneasy! After a few hours though, the bus mechanic arrived, and the travel from there was smooth. We arrived 2am in Manila. "This was the price to pay for our laugh trip the other day? Oh worth it!"

I was dreaming of going to a Retreat post-college, after realizing what I am missing after studying in a Catholic university where this is an annual requirement. I believe that this experience came as a perfect timing...on a Holy Week and with a friend I've always been on adventure trips!

I am not the most sociable person since I have the fewest interaction for the past years--and almost everything online. I am not suplada, but I've became extremely shy. 

During sharings, I was really stammering because I am not used to talking to a big circle anymore. But the thing is, there will be people who will make you at ease with yourself. I am pretty weird ("eccentric", quoting Geo's mother) with my unconventional occupation, and being a vegetarian made me an odd ball. I can't climb and slide a mountain as smoothly for all I am worth--but this 5-day retreat made me appreciate myself more. 

There wasn't any real objective in the first place. But it turned out that what I was seeking was just inside of me.

Embracing myself = Accepting God more in my life.
As Geo said in one of our sharings "It is in being closer to myself am I closer to God."

Happy Easter Everyone! And a shout-out to my Online Sister: Krissy of krissyfied.blogspot.com! =)
Happy Birthday!!!
To end such a long entry, allow me to quote from a past blog entry:

And at the end of the day,May 10, '09 5:01 PM
for anagon's contacts

You’ll realize that

Asmuchas you want to see the world
(in all its vastness, glory, beauty)
In the hopes of meeting yourself

How far and wide you go
Only to find out

Which you are NOT.

And that “The Home”,
After all,
Is who you actually are.


  1. Aww I enjoyed reading the whole post of your adventures, all the while thinking na I'm super jealous and I would also want to join one, tapos nakita ko un name ko sa ilalim :) Sweeeeet! Thanks sis! Mwah! ♥♥

  2. Hihihi! :) Happy birthday sis! I saw your FB photos, and I know you also had a blast today!! :) All the love!!!!!! =)

  3. hi I want to treat myself to a retreat and then i saw ur blog now i want to go to sagada details pls never pa ako nkapnta jan im planning this march sna la ako idea kng na sa magkno range ang kelngn to go there..

  4. Hi Anon! :) Hope I get to know your email so I can send the details. Sagada is a great place, especially for retreats =)))

  5. aprilkim_lorenzo@yahoo.com I'm VERY interested. Kindly send me the details. Thank you! :D

  6. hey gia! can you send me the details of your retreat (like the facilitators and how to sign up?) haha. thanks! would appreciate it!

    - rose :)


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