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Friday, October 22, 2021

An epic road trip: Cebu-Sagada-Cebu

IT looked difficult enough on paper. The actual road trip bordered on the absurd. But our small group of two vehicles did it, driving from Cebu to Sagada and back.

The entire trip took nine days, from March 23 to March 31. In all we drove some 3,000 kilometers and spent roughly 70 hours on the road, excluding the ferry crossings.

Getting lost in the urban areas that cost us precious minutes was the worst setback we
encountered.

Having been spared of accidents, engine trouble, or even a flat tire, we considered ourselves lucky, after driving at an average of 80 kilometers per hour on pitch black roads in the middle of nowhere. We did just about enough planning: Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and Plan E.

The idea for a road trip was hatched two years ago, when my friend Abe Acosta, a lawyer based in Manila, posted on Facebook a road trip he made from Manila to Cebu. He provided crucial details, such as travel time estimates and the state of the roads along the Pan-Philippine Highway, which he said was generally good. The roll-on roll-off ferry crossings (Cebu to Leyte and then Allen, Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon in Luzon) had regular schedules and the fares were reasonable. He brought his family along. In short, the trip was manageable, even with children.

In 2011, I proposed the idea to several friends but only Jong Fernandez, a corporate consultant, seemed excited about the idea. We finally decided to take the March trip in time for the Holy Week this year. Jong brought his entire family: his wife Reggie and two kids, ages 12 and 8. My wife Bretha and I brought along our three kids, ages 12, 8 and 3. Jong would drive a Fortuner, I a Strada.

Everything was a go, except for one major change of plan: instead of a Cebu-Manila-
Cebu trip, we decided to go all the way to Sagada, and back. That single change resulted in the best vacation we’ve ever had.

There were many reasons to do the trip, one of which was to see along the long route the many fantastic sights that we grew up seeing only on postcards: the San Juanico Bridge, Mayon Volcano, the Banaue Rice Terraces. Sagada only gained popularity as a destination only recently, but we had to go there. Another reason was to prove that this ridiculously long trip can be done. The blogs and online forums warned: “don’t bring children,” or “better take a plane,” or that “the risk isn’t worth it.”

Perhaps they were right, but we had to find out for ourselves. What we found along the way – kids and adults alike – was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. (N.S. Villaflor)
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