"Along the way we saw an old man with a "gun" and my brother said, 'Huwag na nating ituloy kuya, nakakatakot 'yong mukha mga tao dito lalo na at hindi natin sila kilala.' (Let's stop this journey, the people's faces here look frightening, we do not know who they are.)"

It is my first time to hit the road with my two younger brothers. Three (3) of us are aware about a barangay called Sallacong (now San Mariano) but no one of us has an idea about the place until I urged them to explore with me hoping that we can find a surprising scenery and discovery in Sallacong. Besides, it would be a quality time for us to bond.

Road to Sallacong, a less trodden path, expect a bumpy inconvenient road

I suddenly saw this road and I am aware it leads to a place called Sallacong so with my soul becoming thirsty of exploring places, I requested my two younger brothers to join me.

My parents, again, are not aware of this road trip and they have no idea that I even brought my two younger brothers with me on the road.

Their only fear is that accident may happen anytime on the road, so letting me go alone on the road is a no-no, so bringing my two younger brothers with me is even more restrictive because if there will be accident, 3 of us might be affected and that would be my fault.

This hidden barangay is now called San Mariano with the goal to change the image of the place to better because people regard the place as a dangerous spot for one's security being a place where allegedly dead bodies are being thrown due to its remoteness and isolation.

Sallacong is a community hidden by the mountains of the Cordilleras and you will really never expect that behind that towering mountains, there exists a community isolated from most of the places.


We hit that road although our parents always warn us not to go to places where life is at risk, we continued.

There was at first, a fear on my part because if there will be trouble along the way, there's no way we can escape because the place is land-locked and there is only one narrow bumpy road to enter and exit the place.

Being the eldest of three, I have the responsibility to keep my younger brothers safe and secured and exploring this place makes my burden heavier being so mysterious and quiet.

There are no trips going to Sallacong so residents go home walking from the highway several kilometers away! Children and young people studying at high school and college only go home during weekend the earliest possible way because if they will go home at dark, they will need to walk to their houses under the moonlight.

I checked out my phone, and viola! There was no signal from the telecommunication network! Meaning, if something happens with us 3, there's no way we can contact people to ask for help and we just have to solve any problems or troubles on our own.




The journey continues, but as we go along the way, there is hesitation of pursuing the journey because we are getting deep to this destination.

Along the way we saw an old man with a "gun" and my brother said, "Huwag na nating ituloy kuya, nakakatakot 'yong mukha mga tao dito lalo na at hindi natin sila kilala." (Let's stop this journey, the people's faces here look frightening, more so, we do not know who they are.)

That was the first encounter we had for a resident in that area and for the very first time we see a person, he was armed with a gun.

We stopped our journey for meanwhile and observed the old man, although we are aware that he has already seen us.

It seemed like strangers were not allowed entering their isolated community so we decided to stop. While observing the old man from a distance, he was preparing his gun and seemed like preparing to hit a target .

"Tara Na! (Let's Go!)," my brother whispered with fear. The more I wanted to take photo of the old man, the more fear consuming my spirit because taking a photo of him might give him the suspicion that we are strangers with a hidden agenda.

Linger for another few minutes, he went away and he was suddenly going away from us then we continued our journey.

When we were so close to him, we saw he was carrying a bird at his left hand while the right is handling an elongated gun. We therefore concluded that the old man was just hunting wild birds for food! Sigh! Yes, at least, we know we are not the target!


Along the way, we were already getting far away from the highway and still we are not seeing any houses, any people or any sign of human activity except for the farms and livestocks scattered all around.

We were so surprised when we saw man driving an ice scramble cart I used to eat when I was a child. I remember the last time I ate ice scramble was about 10 years ago since I rarely find this in our city.

This was so surprising for me because who would expect that this place is the source of this ice scramble I used to eat before!

This signaled us that we are already very near the community in Sallacong and we reached the village center safely.

At the community, living was just so simple. It was thickly populated contrary to what we have passed along the way seeing wide fields with no houses.

That area is overcrowded and people flock in that area. During planting and harvesting seasons in the fields, they leave the community and the people are there at the farms making this overcrowded area to transform to a ghost town for a moment.

Well, it was such a great experience just traversing the road to Sallacong. So what have we discovered to this less-trodden path? This will be revealed for the part 2 of this post and our discovery was just purely serene wonders in the absence of hotels, restaurants and spa. 

They were just pure beauty and wonders without the touch of commercialization and trade. Just hidden and I just prefer it to be hidden to prevent abuse and minimize human activity.

Be there for the part 2. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe via email below to receive the latest updates from Edmar's 112 in 2012 travel challenge! /end

You can now view the Part 2. Click Here.

Bantay #TownExploration Series

Sallacong | Exploring Abra River's Hidden ParadiseThe Trike Toploader Kids of SallacongWild Encounter | Crazy Goats Climbing a Near Vertical Mountain SlopeVisiting the Military on FireOld Quirino Bridge | A Scenic Journey to BanaoangA Church and a Bell Tower Atop a Hill: Since 1590Motorcycle Adventure | Road to Sallacong, the Hidden Valley

Map showing the Location of #Bantay

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Tags: Hidden Valley | Off-beaten path | Off beaten path in Ilocos | off beaten path in Bantay, Ilocos Sur | Road to sallacong | Bantay, Ilocos Sur | village along Abra river | town along Abra river
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EDMAR GUQUIB

Born and Raised in Vigan, Philippines. Hardcore Ilocano. Genuine Bigueño. Sucker of Long Land Trips. Loves the Highlands. Professional Nurse on Weekdays. Coffee Addict. Travel Blogger in Between. For sponsorship, advertising, event invites and collaborations email me at edmaration@gmail.com.

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