After an 18th birthday celebration coverage back in Baguio last April 29, 2017, we immediately headed out to Sadanga, Mt. Province. I’m with the El Garahe studios Photo team and we were set to cover a wedding at our destination. The drive was a good 6-8 hours, but our driver Manong* Elvis (My boss’s cousin) just took it in 4 – 5 hours. We left Baguio City at around 11 pm. Talk about skill and really gutsy driving in Halsema highway at night with fog and wet roads. It was still dark when we got there around 4 am. We didn’t have that much sleep but at least we made it before our call time which was at 5 am.
The predicament is we didn’t have water for taking a bath at the place we were staying in. They told us we can fetch water or take a bath at the bathing area. Little did we know that we were in for a surprise. The place where we can fetch water is a communal hot spring. I didn’t have a decent amount of sleep but seeing the local men naked kinda shocked me. First, I’m not mentally prepared to take a bath open air style with anyone! Second, the men’s bath is literally just beside the village pathway where everyone just passes by and sees you in your birthday suit! It was a huge sausage party. No disrespect to the locals but I’m not prepared for something like this. Since we were running out of time we decided to give it a go, at least no one knows us here except for the couple who availed our services. The consolation is that the water was at a soothing temperature and that it’s a legit sulfur smelling hot spring which is good for your skin. I could have enjoyed that bath if we had more time and the place was hidden from other eyes. Unfortunately, due to their strict rules, I was not able to get any picture of the place and it was still dark. I cant capture anything good without good light.
After that nerve wrecking bath, we got ready and started documenting the couple’s day. The place lit up after sunrise and we were surprised by the beauty of the place. It feels like you are in a hidden village protected by the mountains, rich in culture and tradition. Quaint and simple but still has a lot to offer. I heard stories that the they have some practices that don’t allow you to get in or leave the place if a certain ritual is in effect. Every place is unique but this place offers a feel of mystery and the feel of a tightly knit village.
It was a great morning and the wedding was on top of a mountain. A traditional highland wedding with a great scenery. It went smoothly and before you know it was done. At this point I would have wandered around the place but, I was too tired and sleepy to wander off. We packed our stuff and head for Sagada to rest before we head back to Baguio. Whenever I leave a place and a memory sticks to it, my gut tells me that I’ll be coming back either for another wedding or just to get lost.
For now I can say, Ben-der-done-dat (been there done that) ^_^
*The word “Manong” is an Ilocano word meaning older brother.