Mountains and Volcanoes

That Heavenly Place in "That Thing Called Tadhana": Kiltepan

Julius Calvin Santos
Julius Calvin Santos | Feb 24, 2015

Imagine waking up to a place where the glorious sunrise radiates above the sea of clouds and then, the heaven opens up to reveal the details of the glassy rice terraces below.  It may sound so surreal that this will surely remind you of the “hugot” moment straight from that “Tadhana” movie, but to tell you honestly, this place actually exists.

Nestled up in the Sagada Highlands is a ridge called Kiltepan viewpoint. On this ridge, you can experience the euphoria of witnessing the Sun as it rises above the horizon, over a thick blanket of clouds. Located on the eastern side of Sagada, Kiltepan is a ridge/hill that is bounded by the barangays of Kilong, Tetep-an and Antadao, thus the name Kil-Tep-An.  Below the ridge is an overlooking view of Kilong Rice Terraces, one of the several clusters of rice terraces found in this mountain town.

The journey going to Kiltepan starts really early, not because it is far away but because you have to be there before the action happens (Sunrise). For the budget conscious and the walkaholics, Kiltepan can be reached via a 4 km walk/hike from Downtown Sagada. In our case, we were fortunate enough to be guided by the lodge owner to the viewpoint. We were already up as early as 3 am to get ready for our 4 am departure.

Our jeepney drove within a thick pine forest, which is only lighted by the glowing full moon that evening. Fifteen minutes later, we stopped and were advised that we already reached the viewpoint. To our surprise, we were not the first group of people to reach the area. Overnight campers and early morning hikers left the town as early as 2 am to traverse their way to the ridge.

Kiltepan's Sunrise rewarded everyone who patiently waited for it with its glorious display of radiance. (Photo by mia.geronimo of Teacher Mia Travels) 

As the early dawn breaks over the horizon, everything is bathed in the different hues of the sky. From deep blue, the eastern horizon slowly, very slowly brightened before it turned bright yellow. Finally, at around 6:10 AM the sun unleashed its first rays, which illuminated the sea of clouds concealing it. We were all awestruck by what we witnessed. The glory of the sun, while it provided the light for the earth, gave its warmth to our shivering bodies.

We were all in cloud nine without realizing that the clouds were about to unveil something equally stunning down under. The cold mountain wind slowly pushed away the foggy cover, showcasing the verdant landscape below. While scanning the area, a sight that looks so familiar began to reveal itself.

A cluster of rice terraces, found at the foothill of the ridge surprised everybody with its dazzling beauty. The water puddle in each of the rice paddy mirrored the dramatic skyscape that unfolded in our very eyes. From our vantage point, the paddies looked like pieces of shiny broken glasses that were fastened together forming a unique glistening artwork.

Truly, Kiltepan viewpoint rewards its visitors, who brave the chilly morning and eerie Pine forest with a plethora of visual displays that are exhilarating to the senses.  

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