|Heavenly light at Loo, Benguet|
This year, I've spent the first two weeks doing just that, traveling for an ocular in Eastern Visayas and a guiding assignment for foreign guests in the Cordilleras. The guiding engagement took us to Sagada, Bontoc and Buguias in consecutive days. In Biliran, we were hiking everyday in between shuttling via tricycle to various sites across the island so I was quite tired coming home for a day before leaving again for the highlands. Dunno, but there's something invigorating about going back to nature that makes all the long travels seem trivial.
Honestly, I wasn't so keen about going back to Sagada though for so many years, I kept coming back to it. It's my personal observation that the influx of tourists have somehow diluted the initial feelings of serenity, quiet, solace that it used to offer me due to mass tourism. I've recently written about my experience of seeing a sea of crowds instead of a sea of clouds in Kiltepan. Sure, any place would want more tourists but I guess nature is not like a rock concert where the more the crowds, the better the experience. I know this is happening in a lot of places that only mountaineers (and ex-mountaineers like myself) used to go to and in a lot of ways, it's sad. Not to say mountaineers are faultless but then again, we know the merits of hiking far and wide, earning our equity in sweat to enjoy places seldom reached by people who chose to ride their vans and 4-wheel drive vehicles. To add salt to the wound, Sagada was one of the places featured in a popular, local, rom-com movie which stoked the imaginations of a selfie-generation, wanting to go here even if just to brag on Instagram or Twitter.