Saturday, June 28, 2014

When the North Calls: Mariah's Journal Entry on Her Trip to the Cordilleras

8:35 PM

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I had wanted to go to the Cordilleras for years now, but I hadn’t found anyone who was really willing to push through with plans until recently. So I saved up some money on my own, did some research online, and hopped on a bus bound for Banaue in E. Rodriguez at 10pm, after work on a Thursday evening.

The weekend was a big adventure, and I’m still trying to understand it all. I balanced along the ledge of the rice terraces in Batad, lost my phone on my first day to unpaved roads while I was riding on top of a jeep, and went swimming in a waterfall. I saw my fair share of tourist fare such as the Echo Valley, the Hanging Coffins, and the caves on the outskirts of Sagada. I indulged in the best of what Sagada had to offer, from Civet coffee, to lemon pies, and yogurt. I met all kinds of foreigners from all kinds of places, which is funny since I met more foreigners than local people, and it’s so much easier to talk to strangers there. On our last night, my friends and I ended up learning card tricks from Englishmen in a bar with tickets, notes, and ID pictures pinned up on the walls from other travelers who had been there. Despite all that happened, the Cordilleras also had this tranquility. The view from our hostel room had a sky dotted with stars, far away from the smoke and lights of Manila. We saw a lightning strike some vague point beyond the mountains of the Banaue town proper, without hearing even a bit of thunder. We pointed to the sky like we would shooting stars, and a particularly spectacular bolt would interrupt our conversations over cold Red Horse, leaving us speechless.

On the day we planned to return to Manila, we woke up at 4:40am with burgeoning hangovers to take a jeep to the peak of Mt. Kiltepan. We had a wide, stunning view of a sea of clouds, slowly-shifting and rolling between the mountains in the light of dawn. The sky was clear, aside from a streak which, my friend guessed, was the International Space Station. The moon also hung brightly, its mouth open to what probably was Venus or Jupiter. The sky high beyond what a small human could compare to.

The sight made the six-hour drive to Baguio from Banaue and then the seven-hour drive back to Manila tedious and unbearably long, especially since we had to leave somewhere so beautiful. The plan was to leave Baguio at 7 to make it to Manila at midnight, but the next available bus when we got to the station was at 1:30am. Maybe the north didn’t want to let us go so easily.

While killing time, we walked along Session Road intending to get to the town proper with all the bars, but when we got to the end, we realized too late that we went the wrong way. So on we went to the other end of Session Road. We weren’t in a rush because we had lots of time to kill. We just wanted to savor the feeling of being lost, of being somewhere, and of worrying about no material things aside from what you had in your backpack. It was liberating to be away from traffic, work, school, and other people.

But my heart lies in Manila, and as I always do, I end up home. At least I know that I still have somewhere to go when the north calls.

Article and Photos by Mariah
Mariah is an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your life. She sings and plays guitar for her band, The Buildings, and is currently taking up BA Film at the University of the Philippines Diliman.


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