A Travellerspoint blog

Sagada - Vigan

View South East Asia Grand Tour 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.


While the room here at Masferré Country Inn in Sagada may be well past its sell-by-date, the restaurant is nice, and the breakfast is spectacular.


Papaya, lime, and honey; ginger tea with honey; and orange juice

Home-made bread, bacon, scrambled eggs, mango, preserves, and banana ketchup

Shanghai Lumpia - egg rolls stuffed with ground pork and vegetables. Delicious.

Just as we think we cannot eat another morsel, Rey turns up. Having borrowed the local guide’s motorbike, he has been up to the Misty Lodge & Café to collect a couple of home made yogurts that he ordered especially for us yesterday.

Blueberry yogurt

The huge breakfast is too much for David, who finds he’s lost half a tooth.


We travel through some incredible scenery today, first zigzagging down, then later up through hairpin bends again, with numerous landslides.


I love the artistically constructed Pikaw Hand Bridge


This prominent mountaintop has the curious name of Mount Clitoris for its resemblance to a certain female part of the anatomy. Although named Mount Clitoris on street signs and even on Google Maps, its official title is Mount Mogao. The internet describes it as a "hidden gem tucked away waiting to be explored."

Pomelo tree

Battle of Bessang Pass Memorial

The victory in Bessang Pass is considered as one of the greatest triumphs in Philippine history, which, towards the end of the Second World War was a stronghold of the Japanese imperial forces. After a battle that lasted four months, troops made up of 20,000 soldiers (all Filipinos except for five American officers) made a final assault on the ridge on 14th June 1945, and planted a symbolic flag made from a dirty green face towel. It was protracted, fierce, relentless, and bloody hand-to-hand combat with a suicidal enemy. The Filipino/American troops bore the brunt of the fighting, sustaining over 2,000 casualties, including 600 men killed.


After three long years of brutal Japanese occupation, this victory is believed to have hastened the collapse of Japanese defenses in the country. During the Japanese occupation, almost all of the forces of this command served as guerillas. For them, this battle was a payback for all the dishonor they suffered during the surrender of the Philippines and for the atrocities the Japanese inflicted on them. During the occupation, Japanese marines and Korean conscripts massacred more than 300,000 residents in Manila and destroyed the city. Manila became the most devastated city after Warsaw, gaining the moniker ‘The Warsaw of Asia.’


With us all returning to the car in a sombre mood after the visit to the memorial, Rey plays some 60/70/80th music to liven up the atmosphere. He tells us he has different playlists depending on the age of his clients, but also confesses to enjoying some of the old songs himself.

We continue along some stunning roads, clinging precariously to the forested hillside with spectacular scenery all around us.

More landslides


We stop to fly the drone, but find that the scenery is actually too big to capture it all. I have created a panorama in Photoshop, and you can see the enormity of the valley landscape in the video below.


Not only does this area have a Mount Clitoris, there is also Vagina Falls.


Lunch at Jollibee

We stop in Candon Town to have lunch in a buzzing branch of the local fast food chain Jollibee – the Philippines’ answer to KFC. Although not being a fast food fan, we totally understand Rey’s rationale behind it, as he states that Jollibee is a very popular restaurant with local people and that we should try it to get the full Filipino food experience. We are game for it, and Rey orders a whole banquet full of popular dishes.


A buzzer for when the food is ready

Burgers and peach mango pie

A bucket of chicken, fries, and gravy

Ice cream, Iced Tea, and Sundaes

Enough chicken to feed a small army

Spaghetti with a bunch of sugar in it to make it sweeter, as is traditional in the Philippines

And of course: mountains of rice

Santa Maria Church

Unlike most Spanish Catholic churches, which are usually found in town squares, The Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of the Assumption, sits alone on a hill overlooking the town of Santa Maria.


The baroque church, which dates from 1767, is inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage Sites list

The freestanding bell tower

According to the legend, before the Santa Maria Church was built on its present site, the Virgin Mary was enshrined at a different place called Bulala. The frequent disappearance of the Virgin Mary from her previous place of enthronement only to be found perched on a guava tree that grew where the present church is located, led the townspeople to construct the church in its present location.

The Virgin Mary depicted in a tree on the side of the building.

With its imposing brick facade, the church was used as a fortress during the Philippine Revolution in 1896.


The interior of the church


I love the way the clouds have formed above the cross.


We cross the Abra River on a new bridge, constructed after the Old Quirino Bridge suffered the wrath of the Super Typhon Egay a few months ago (July 2023)


Richie, our driver, became stranded in Sagada at the time, as a result of the collapse.


Hotel Felicidad, Vigan

The quirky hotel has a colonial feel and look about it, and we are the only people staying here tonight.


Initially, we are given a room on the second floor, but Rey arranges for us to stay in an Accessible Room on the ground floor instead.

We have a large four-poster bed each, the beds are very high, and the mattress keeps moving, but it is very comfortable and that is all that matters

The towels are shaped like an elephant

Even the toilet paper has been artistically folded, the toilet is modern with a high seat and a grab rail opposite, plus a walk-in shower. The benefits of having an accessible room.

David goes for a wander and comes back with a bottle of local rum and some snacks for our room picnic this evening. After the enormous breakfast followed by the Jollibee experience at lunchtime, neither of us feels like having a proper meal tonight.


This amazing Grand Tour of South East Asia was arranged by Undiscovered Destinations.


Posted by Grete Howard 11:50 Archived in Philippines Tagged memorial philippines unesco typhoon pass wwii vigan sagada jollibee drone drone_photography dronography masferré_country_inn undiscrovered_destinations lumpia david_lost_half_a_tooth pikaw_hand_bridge hand_bridge mount_clitoris pomelo_tree battle_of_bessang battle_of_bessang_memorial bessang japanese_occupation vagina_falls santa_maria_church the_archdiocesan_shrine_of_our_ virdin_mary abra_river super_typhone_egay egay old_quirino_bridge hotel_felicidad

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My gosh, seeing the pictures of the food at Jollibee's it seems it is indeed for a small army!

by Ils1976

There was so much left over, Ils, but the boys took it away with them and had it for their dinner, so it wasn't wasted.

by Grete Howard

What a fantastic road to drive!

by ToonSarah

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