There is always something about the mountains beckoning me to explore their hidden beauty every time I come home. After my sanduning, beaching, sun-bathing and snorkelling shenanigans in Coron, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Norte, I decided it was about time to visit the mountains again. Hiking the majestic Badi falls was a spur of the moment decision, and I never regretted doing so because I met awesome people who have the same interests and quirks as I am. The falls are located in Barangay Sagubo, Kapangan, an hour and a half jeepney ride from Baguio City. According to Mark, our organizer, the word “Badi” came from the Kankanaey word “Bad-badi.” They are a type of insects measuring about 3-6 inch in length and a diameter of around 6-7mm. They look like earthworms either blue or brown in colour. They used to live in the rivers sticking on the stones especially the ones beneath the falls.
I met up with the organizer at 5 in the morning thinking the rest of the group would be on time. And yes, more than half of them were definitely on “Filipino time” which I’m still getting used to until now every time I meet people here. We left Center Mall at six-thirty in the morning beating the cold weather of Baguio City. The sceneries in Kapangan reminded me of my hometown, Besao. The spectacular mountains covered with greeneries were refreshing to look at. Despite the cold breeze enveloping our bodies, some of us decided to “topload” on the roof of the jeepney. This made the experience extraordinary because we could see the misty clouds covering the mountains, the breathtaking rice fields and lush vegetation around us. I sat there enduring the cold breeze whipping my face while relishing the glorious sceneries in front of me and the serenity of Kapangan town. Yes, the overwhelming emotions were almost unbearable because I felt like I was indeed home.
We headed to Suvanis Avong, a heritage house made from cogon and bamboos where we enjoyed our breakfast and did mini introduction of each other. “Avong” in Ibaloi or “Abong” in Kankanaey means house. Like in Besao where I came from, we have “abong” where elders get together and do rituals. It is the same idea except Suvanis Avong is for guests to stay in and experience the traditional living of the Kankanaey and Ibaloi with a fee. There were guests staying over, but I got the chance to roam around and marvel at the traditional equipment found inside.
We were welcomed by the very accommodating barangay captain of Sagubo, and he did a little talk about the place, the current tourism and popularity of Badi falls, safety and guidelines that we need to abide to. It was a good orientation for me, as I really did not know what to expect.
We arrived at the jump-off, and I was skeptical about how I was gonna survive the hike. The start of the trek was cemented pavement albeit grudgingly downhill. Yes, my knees were already begging me to stop but the vegetation we passed through along with the rolling clouds covering the distant mountains were worth the pain on my knees. They were invigorating to look at while I was trying to keep up with our guide. This went on for about half an hour of concrete road until we hit the real pathway where the excitement and challenge began. I was having trouble walking down the hills because of my Sun Beach flip flops. Good thing our awesome guide was kind enough to swap his smaller slippers with mine after coercing him to do so (LOL). By the time I arrived at the bottom of the mountains where Badi falls were located, my feet were covered in blisters. Hence, for people planning to hike Badi Falls, wear a good pair of hiking shoes, as you will be crawling your way down the mountains, literally. It is slippery and slightly muddy not to mention some of the trails are still being paved. However, you will get to bask in the mesmerizing beauty of the Kapangan mountains as you navigate your way towards the falls. You will be stalled and hypnotized by what is in front of you once you reach your destination.
After an hour and a half of going downhill, we finally made it to our destination. The clean water cascading in the first falls was refreshing. We playfully made it up the river while hopping on one rock to another. We took photos while dipping our feet in the revitalizing water. While most of us decided to swim, I was contented sitting on a big rock admiring the cascading waterfalls.
The second falls was bigger and more stunning than the first one. It reminded me of the Bridal falls in Vancouver but larger in size. The boulders were covered in mosses and other various plants. People were swimming in the pool of water at the bottom of the falls while we were busy taking “instagramable” photos. The challenging assault going back up was not something to joke about. It was exhausting but the friendship I made with the people I met for the first time is not something I could trade off. We bonded over a lot of things, big or small. From dissing each other like we’ve known each other for years, to the brewed coffee in Suvanis Avong, the shared breakfast of red rice, pancit and buttered chicken, the pinikpikan during lunch time, my R&B music blasting inside the jeepney, the huffing and puffing going down and up the mountains while basking in the breathtaking beauty of Kapangan and Badi falls . As what the barangay captain said, “we start as strangers and should finish as “badi badi,” and boy did we do that!
It was already dark when our trip was concluded by the hospitality and humility of Sir Manny Fermin, the current mayor of the municipality of Kapangan. Thank you for welcoming us with your down-to-earth attitude, your witty remarks and informative knowledge about your town. We surely had fun!