Meeting Sagada’s beloved mother figure

Mavic Conde
When we bid goodbye, she kissed our foreheads and hugged us. That made me feel as if I was leaving home.

THE AUTHOR WITH MARY DAOAS. Mary (or Tita Mary to visitors in Sagada) gladly posed for a memento picture inside her lodging house. Photo courtesy of Eleazar Cuela

MANILA, Philippines – Sagada is beautiful and very blessed, too. The people who reside in this village in Mountain Province may not have much material possessions in their hands, but you’ll see contentment in their eyes.

Well, who would not feel content when they happen to live in a place where the sceneries stun, not to mention the kind and wonderful people that make this community a little more special?

Among those folks is Mary Daoas, or “Tita Mary” to tourists visiting Sagada. I didn’t know she was that kind until I stayed at her lodge, although it was hinted in the way she dealt with travelers inquiring about her pension house.

She does not ask travelers to pay her a downpayment for reservations. Instead, she sends a text message  hoping that your journey up north will be safe and good.

Genuine hospitality and openness

MUST-VISIT PLACES IN SAGADA. Sagada is home to different natural wonders including Bomod-Ok falls, Mt. Kiltepan, and Sumaguing cave. Photos courtesy of Gin Riobuya and Eleazar Cuela

Tita Mary welcomed our group with a warm hello. Her smile was genuine, anyone could tell. And based on the quality of the rooms against their cost, she was also fair as far as charges went.

What I appreciated most was the time she willingly lent to vacationers like us who wished to have a little chat with her. She gladly accommodated questions and answered personal questions without hesitation.

I learned that she is a retired school teacher and her great grandfather used to be a tribe chieftain. I can no longer recall the exact details but it seemed that the only picture she had of him was sent to her by a foreign vacationer.

Alongside the picture of her great grandfather were paintings of mountains and other natural sceneries. According to Tita Mary, those were the works of her husband.

“Painting served as his therapy (after) he suffered a stroke. (The talent for painting) just came out naturally in him after he got a stroke.” (See what art can do? Amazing.)

On being a mother and a community member

HOMEY ATMOSPHERE. The receiving room in the first floor. Here, visitors can have a little chit chat with Tita Mary or spend time with travel buddies while drinking coffee. Photo courtesy of Eleazar Cuela

When I ran out of questions to ask, a picture displayed on the wooden rack captured my attention. I assumed he was Tita Mary’s son. So I dared ask, “Don’t you miss your children?”

“Of course I do,” she responded quickly.

I was glad I asked, because I’d never forget how her face brightened up and how excited she got telling me about her 3 children. Two are already working abroad; the youngest — the guy in the picture — is taking up Engineering at one of the universities in Quezon City.

Before our conversation ended, she was able to share more random things about her; like how they had protested against the proposal to increase the registration fee in Sagada from P20 to P50, and how some of her fellow Sagadans had given up farming for other jobs because the income they earned from it was not enough to support their families.

Hearing a few short stories about her children made me admire her more. They also made me feel that I was no longer just one of the many visitors in Sagada who had spent several nights in her lodging home, but rather a friend (or an “adopted” child, if I’m not too assuming) with whom she shared her views regarding parenting and motherhood, on being a community member and a business woman, and on life in general.

When we eventually bid goodbye, she kissed our foreheads and hugged us. That made me feel as if I was leaving home. –


Happy Mother’s Day to all moms! How are you celebrating the day with YOUR mom? Tweet us your pic @rapplerdotcom, use the hash tag #loveyoumom.

Sagada Residential Lodge is located in Dagdag, Sagada, Mountain Province. Contact Tita Mary through mobile number 0919-6728744 or email

Mavic Conde

Mavic Conde is a web content writer based in Bicol. She travels to tell stories about the joys of journeying, interesting cultures and places, and unique personalities. Recently, she joined Bicolandia magazine, a local publication that aims to promote tourism in Bicol.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.