viernes, 5 de julio de 2013


Mientras disfrutábamos de nuestra nueva casa en Sagada, la Semana Santa llegó a su fin. Tenemos que reconocer que fue algo extraño, ya que estamos acostumbrados a pasar estas fechas en nuestro país. No hubo tambores, ni cabezudos, ni gigantes. Eso si, el pequeño pueblo de Sagada se llenó de gente, la mayoría local, sobre todo de Manila. No había un hueco libre en los hostales, y el Log Cabin que normalmente ofrecía un buffet a la semana, hizo tres seguidos, y nosotros encantados de la vida, como os podréis imaginar.

Holy week had passed. We could say that it was a strange feeling. We are used to hearing and living holy week in our own country, but experiencing it in Philippines is a complete different story. Sagada filled up with people, along with our house for a weekend. The village was thriving with life like we had never seen before. The Log Cabin made 3 buffets during the week. All succulent like always. 

A estas alturas, llevando ya un mes viviendo allí, éramos parte del pueblo. Algunos nos saludaban con un "hola" por la mañana, otros nos enseñaban algo de tagalo, conocíamos muchos de los cotilleos del pueblo, pero lo más importante fue que pasamos de ser "Sir Miguel y Maám Julia" a ser simplemente "Miguel y Julia". 

La gente del Log Cabin nos hizo sentir parte de la familia. Gente increíble con la que seguiremos en contacto y que volveremos a ver tarde o temprano. Incluso ayudamos a Dave (el marido de Janice) en su campaña política. Se presentaba a Consejero y para ellos era sumamente importante que todo saliera bien. Les intentamos ayudar con las fotografías, aunque lamentablemente no contábamos con el material necesario para realizarlas correctamente. De todas formas, esperamos que nuestros consejos y sugerencias le ayudaran a conseguir su objetivo. Hoy, Dave es consejero de Sagada y sabemos que está trabajando duro para mantener Sagada como un sitio auténtico y local. Dave nos dijo antes de irnos que, si ganaba, necesitarían hacer una página web y que contaban con nosotros para ello. Menuda tentación. ¿Será Sagada nuestro destino final?

Fortunately for us we had managed to enjoy the scenario, the house and the amazing food. We had never been so pampered until now. The astonishing views from the house's terrace of the valley and the rices fields, were a great way to start the day, before going for breakfast at St Joe cafe. To be honest time had passed in Sagada. This luckily gave us the opportunity to become part of the village community to a certain extent. Some people, at this point, even greeted us with an "hola" instead of the typical hello sir/maám. Our relationship with the staff and family in The Log Cabin had grown as well. They were an amazing group of people which we will never forget. At one point we even helped Dave (Janice's husband) in his political campaign for councilor, attempting to take photographs for the campaign etc. However, we didn't have the equipment necessary to take the clean images we intended, but hope that our suggestions and advice made the little difference in his success, as today he is actually the official councilor of Sagada. CONGRATULATIONS DAVE!

Durante esta semana, disfrutamos de nuestros sitios preferidos una y otra vez. La diferencia fue que ya no íbamos los dos solos, sino que ahora nos acompañaban nuestros nuevos amigos del Log Cabin. Casi cada día, se pasaban por nuestra casa, ya fuera para tomarse algo con nosotros o para que fuéramos todos juntos a bañarnos a la cascada. No pretendemos ponernos sentimentales, pero este fue uno de los mejores regalos del viaje. Llegamos a Sagada siendo unos simples turistas, y salimos de allí formando parte del pueblo, de una familia y con un montón de colegas. ¿Qué más podíamos pedir? 

During our time off, we were able to enjoy our favorite spots over and over again. The waterfall, the Eco valley, but, this time we didn't go alone. This time, after a month of Sagada, we were accompanied by all our new friends that we had made, thanks to living and working with The Log Cabin. At one point, our friends would even drop by our house to have a drink, or to simply wait for us to go to the waterfall. The feeling was great and it also showed the kindness and trust we mutually felt for each other.

De la misma forma, aprovechamos esos días para visitar la increíble Cave Connection de la que todo el mundo hablaba. ¡Las cuevas de Sagada son enormes! Entras por una, y tras 5 horas de recorrido subterráneo, sales por otra. Te arrastras, escalas por cuerdas, te deslizas por huecos muy muy estrechos y… pop! de repente apareces en espacios gigantes, pequeñas cascadas, aguas en las que poder darse un baño, estalagmitas, estalagtitas y cientos de murciélagos. Por supuesto, el suelo resbala muchísimo y es fácil perderse, lo que la convierte en la única actividad de Sagada en la que es obligatorio llevar guía.

It was also time for us to do THE activity in Sagada. The famous Cave Connection. This is what everyone comes to do. This place reminds you more of where Golum was first found by Bilbo rather than a touristic activity. Its a 3 hour walk through the depths of the mountain lead by one guide with a kerosine lantern. You enter one cave and 3 hours later pop out of another. The feeling is amazing, walking through passages, cracks, up ropes and down ropes, deeper and deeper towards the heart of the cave. At one point you reach a crazy area full of water, were you can even bath if you like. The cave is full of bats, stalagmites, stalactites and running water making the experience a bit of a slippery and trechorouse one. This is why it is extremely important to do this cave connection with a real guide. One can't even imagine the crevasses one needs to pass to actually reach the other side.

Antiguas tumbas. Cueva de Sumagin - Old Tombs in Sumagin cave

Veo veo, ¿qué ves? - What can you see here?

Una vez más, cuando dábamos por terminada nuestra estancia en Sagada, nuestro compañero de "piso" Angelo vino a hablar con nosotros. Tenía pensado montar un auténtico restaurante italiano en Sagada. Pizza, lasagna y pasta italiana al 100% cocinadas por un auténtico italiano. El restaurante estaría localizado en un ambiente fresco, sano y natural, sin la contaminación de coches y motos. Angelo era una persona algo mayor, el cual no quería oír hablar de internet, ni de fezbuk, ni de titer. Le explicamos que necesitaba un nombre para empezar y una imagen que diera sentido al negocio, por mucho que tampoco quisiera logotipo. Bufffff… poco a poco y con calma. El naiming quería que fuera simple y clásico, además era importante que los filipinos, gente no tan familiarizada con Italia, lo reconocieran al instante. Nos quedamos con Bella Italia. Entendamos que no necesitábamos nada original, lo importante era que se entendiera al momento. Le diseñamos un "logo" con los clásicos elementos italianos, aunque intentado reforzar lo natural y lo fresco.

Seguimos por unas tarpulinas muy básicas con información del lugar, sus valores y su dirección. Por otra parte, creamos una pequeña acción en la se ofrecería una pequeña porción de pizza a los turistas y lugareños, acompañada de un flyer con la misma información.

Once again, when we thought our time in Sagada had come to an end, we were again surprised. Angelo our house mate from Italy came to speak to us. He commented that he was trying to open up a new restaurant. A REAL ITALIAN RESTAURANT. Being born and raised in Italy, he was a natural pro at making typical italian food. From Pizza al tagglio, to pasta and lasagna. His dishes we had tasted every now and then in the Log Cabin's buffet were truly succulent.

His intention was to open a new place in Sagada. His strategy was very straight forward and simple. Our mission was to aid him in giving form to his plan. Keeping it simple, communicating the new business in a simple way, and creating ads and actions for the restaurant in tactical places. It seemed to be that with a little investment and creating simple strategic actions he had a good chance of making the restaurant known and fast. He offered us work in exchange for a bit of real Italian treats. It sounded pretty good and one way or another we were still being taken care of by The Log Cabin, who was also helping Angelo at the same time. We have nothing to loose, we thought  and we still ow this family a lot.

A few days after talking to Angelo, we started working away on the strategy and graphic pieces needed. The first step, a naming. We needed a simple name that would evoke REAL ITALIAN FOOD to anyone, from locals from the valley and Manila, to expats and backpackers. Our best bet was to keep it as simple as possible. BELLA ITALIA was as simple as it could get. Everyone knows a Bella Italia in their home country, so this time, it was Sagada's turn to have one. Next step was to create a Logo. Something that would communicate two of the restaurant's most important brand values. The first was the obvious fact that the restaurant made REAL Italian food by a REAL Italian. So the authenticity of the food couldn't get any better. The other great value was that the restaurant was "pollution free". It's placement was a great little garden adjacent to St Joe's cafe, with a unique and amazing view of the village itself. These two factors were differential enough to make this business stand out from the rest, in its own special way.

The out come of the logo is a recycled versions of a typical italian restaurant, fuzed with a garden like image. Green, garden and Italy. Simple enough.


A cambio, además de seguir cenando en el Log Cabin y viviendo en nuestra casa, pudimos disfrutar de auténtica comida italiana. Descubrimos que la pasta carbonara 100% italiana no era en absoluto como la cocinamos en España normalmente, y descubrimos lo mucho que echábamos de menos una buena pizza.

In exchange not only did we have the free house, the dinners in The Log Cabin, Breakfast at St joe's but every now and then Angelo would make us real Pasta and real Pizza. I even discovered that my version of pasta carbonara was as fake as all the rest of the versions I had tasted in Spain. Even my own mother's wasn't real… but as we learnt from Angelo your mothers pasta is your mothers pasta… never disrespect your mama's pasta, because it might not be the real italian deal, but it will taste of 100% love.

Con este trueque nos despedimos de Sagada. No fue porque los trueques se hubieran terminado. De hecho, antes de irnos nos ofrecieron más trabajo, pero lamentablemente nuestro visado tenía un tiempo límite, y todavía faltaba mucho por descubrir en Filipinas. 

With this trade, it was time to finally say goodbye to Sagada. Not because the work had finished. but because we had to extend our visa. On the last day we actually had to decline a job offer for a local tour guide agency in another village. I guess we will have to leave it for next time.

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