Marlboro country is not really a country and yet it has claimed a few places in the Cordillera, one in Sagada and one in Mount Pulag. But apparently, it’s not a part of Sagada but rather a part of Bontoc.
Inspired by the old Marlboro cigarette brand showing cowboys riding their horses on grassy plains, locals of Sagada delighted to call one hill “Marlboro country” or “Marlboro hill.”
On my 7th visit to Sagada, my three friends and I woke up at 3:30 am and had a light breakfast. This is the last day of our 3-day escapade at Sagada.
Prior to this day, we had a sunrise view at Kiltepan, an eco-trail passing by St.Mary’s Church, the local cemetery, hanging coffins, underground river, and Bokong falls, and spelunking in the afternoon. We agreed to meet our local tour guide at 4:00 am since we wanted to walk and trek to Marlboro hill.
Marlboro Country Sagada/Bontoc
By 4:00 am, we were on our way wearing thick jackets and holding needed flashlights. The cold morning breeze together with the already-cold temperature threatened to stop me on my tracks.
But my desire to get a snapshot at a magnificent sunrise with a sea of clouds at Marlboro country Sagada kept me going. While enjoying the clean air and the silence typical of the countryside which afforded a stress-free mental world, I only focused on following the road.
After an hour of brisk walking, we reached the trail leading to the summit. Our guide told us that we were 15 minutes away from the viewpoint. The once-dark night sky started giving early signs of the sunrise.
While trekking in the “piney” woods, the emerging fiery colors on the horizon kept diverting my attention. I could not wait to find a spot to take a snapshot of the rising sun.
In a short while, we reached the summit. A few tourists were already there buying coffee and light breakfast from a nearby shop run by locals. There were no tall trees in the vicinity making the cold breeze reaching to my bones despite my winter jacket. We took our seats near the bonfire.
I checked Accuweather and found out that the sunrise was still at 5:57 am. But our fellow tourists were already very excited taking dozens of selfies and couplies.
At 5:30 am, the sky turned gray as the darkness eased. It amused me that everything appears monochromatic before the sun rises illuminating the colors of a new day. And as we waited, I surveyed our surroundings.
On the foot of the mountain were rice terraces. We were surrounded by a range of mountains. Of course, the hill is not plain but grasses and shrubs including wild strawberries abounded. A sea of white clouds covered the valley to our left.
Sea Of Clouds
I was a bit disappointed not to find a sea of clouds right in front of me but still, I was happy since it was my first time to be very close to a sea of clouds. While growing up in Benguet allowed me to see seas of clouds often in Halsema while traveling to Baguio, I never saw one up close.
Even my adventures in Mt. Pulag did not permit me to see one. The fog was also a common sight in my hometown and I’ve always wondered if people overlooking our town see a sea of clouds instead. What I saw on this day was the closest yet that I’ve seen.
At 6:00 am, the range of mountains still hid the sun. I could only see “golden linings.” While waiting, we looked for good spots to take pictures of ourselves, the horizon, and the sea of clouds.
At 6:10 am, I was finally greeted by the sun.As I marveled at the glorious sight, again I asked myself why I never get tired of chasing sunrises, sunsets, light, color and the rest of nature although these phenomena occur regularly making it not special statistically.
But for me the reason is very special, I can only think of a quote from C.S.Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” They spell out my life.
Aside from the stunning sunrise, you can also find the famous blue soil in Marlboro Country. Yup. That’s right! The soil is blue. It’s a must-visit site in Sagada.
How To Get There
- Ride a Coda Lines bus in Cubao heading to Sagada. Book in advance as most often buses are full. Travel time is around 11 to 12 hours and bus departures are usually at night. So basically, you sleep in Manila and wake up in Sagada! This article has everything you need to know about riding the Coda Lines bus to Sagada.
- You can also ride a bus going to Baguio. Then ride the earliest bus at 3 am via the Lizardo Lines heading to Sagada.
- From Baguio, simply ride a bus heading to Sagada. You can find buses at the Dangwa terminal behind the Centermall.
Travel Tip: Check schedules and availability of buses to Sagada to book online with 12Go Asia.
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- Batad Rice Terraces and Tappiya Falls: First Timer’s Budget Travel Guide