September 2013
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"As I reach the peak, which is the climax of everything, my eyes bulged in pleasure brought by a feast-to-the-eye-destination with a little bit of brain clouding. I have just reached the point of no return."

It's been about 6 months (as of this writing) since I had my last premarital affair with the Palali Rice Terraces but the memories still remain as fresh as the cool air of Mountain Province. I cheated my hometown when I decided to establish an intimacy with this place that gives extreme pleasure for the eyes.

Start of Planting Season

Based on what I was seeing that moment, the Palali Rice Terraces was made up of mirror-like rice paddies reflecting the bright sky piled ingeniously one over the other signifying that each terraced rice field has been intentionally flooded to turn these mountains-turned-arable-paradise to a colossal rice bowl, as the rice paddies extend down to the Chico River as the basin.

It is the start of the planting season in #BONTOC


FAST FACTS: The capital town of Mountain Province, #Bontoc hosts majestic ancestral rice terraces, a prehistoric village, burial caves and the melting pot of culture in the province. / Photo: Palali Rice Terraces @ Alab Oriente, Bontoc
when I had the chance to experience a love at first sight with her (Palali Rice Terraces) beauty. Her ancestral engineers and architects are those that I consider the realest of the real men during the time Palali Rice Terraces was still evolving to a farming paradise.

Love at first sight


But of course, this first time eye pleasure I experienced has to undergo a painful exploration to the pine-clad mountains as I penetrate this pine jungle for the first time where her beauty resides. It was a heterogeneous mixture of thirst and cardiovascular work-out.

Heart beats faster as my energy is depleted little by little. Muscles at my legs contract as I push harder beyond the regular limit of my strength as I climb the mountain with steep trails just to see the beauty of the Palali Rice Terraces.

Seasoned beauty

Penetrekking Mt. Data (Penetration + Trekking)

Reaching a destination that is my first time to visit has to let my feet to ache with mud and soil elements in between toes. My feet was able to endure the first time penetration of Mt. Data in ALAB ORIENTE

[BONTOC] Alab Oriente: An Ancient Village with Sacred Grounds

TEASER: "Prehistoric mountain dwellers inhabited this place leaving a mark that became an evidence of their existence."
, Bontoc but my thigh did most of the work.

My thigh muscles have to coordinate well with my joints for me to push more, harder and faster to make it quickie. Well, I have to do it quick because I don't want to get back to my hotel room late (since I have to catch the last trip going to the town). Pushing harder could mean muscle aches and back pain thereafter.

Beautiful Sight to Behold: way to Palali RC

As I reach the peak, which is the climax of everything, my eyes bulged in pleasure brought by a feast-to-the-eye-destination with a little bit of brain clouding. I have just reached the point of no return. I mean, there's no going back and my thigh and leg muscles need to push some more hiking until I reach the top spot where the best vantage point is situated -- and the rest was epic: explosively ineffably semi-permanently locked jaw-dropping scenery. Do I need to describe more?

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Palali Rice Terraces in BontocPalali Rice Terraces in BontocPalali Rice Terraces in BontocPalali Rice Terraces in BontocPalali Rice Terraces in BontocPalali Rice Terraces in BontocPalali Rice Terraces in Bontoc

This was my short-time affair with the Palali Rice Terraces. Aside from the many first times, reaching the top of the mountain just to see to see rice terraces will never be the last. It's a genesis that knows no bound, no end, as long as I'm still alive and strong.

This was an unprotected affair that is productive. It will multiply and bear new produces after the pleasure. Products such as unforgettable experiences, people I met on my travels, happy memories and new discoveries are the fruits of this first-time penetration to Palali Rice Terraces, and I know more shall come to my next love affairs in traveling. It has made me crave for more and I want to do it again and experience the pleasure in the name of adventure. /end

1. From Bontoc Downtown you can hire a tricycle for 120 pesos (one way). Tell the driver to drop you to Alab Oriente drop-off point which is the location of a waiting shed overlooking the Chico River and the footbridge leading to the village. You can also alight from a bus going to Baguio like Sunrise Bus and G Lizardo bus for around 30 pesos (one way). Just tell the driver to drop you to the same place I just mentioned.

2. If you think you can't find the direction to the village via the footbridge, ask any individual at the jump-off point regarding the way to Alab Oriente. You have to cross a footbridge over the Chico River and that's a hint you're now entering Alab Oriente.

3. After crossing the bridge, head to the Barangay Hall and register. Just ask the locals where is the Barangay Hall. You can actually see the hall from the drop-off point.

4. From the Barangay Hall, and if you don't know how to go the Palali Rice Terraces (meaning it is your first time), never attempt to go on your own. Get a guide from there. The journey to the Palali Rice Terraces is just a part of the package. Your destination would be the MT. GOTONG and MT. DATA

[BONTOC] Mt. Gotong, Mt. Data | Mountains of Myths and Urban Legends

TEASER:"...there is still a little regret in me that I didn't just even notice the summit of the first real mountain I ever climbed.
which are the location of the interesting spots you'll going to see including Palali. The other points-of-interest you can enjoy along the trail are the GANGA BURIAL CAVES

[BONTOC] Ganga Burial Caves | Mystical People, Mysterious Grave

TEASER: "I experienced goosebumps upon entering this area of dead bodies that made me feel I was in a different dimension."

[BONTOC] Alab Petroglyphs | Prehistoric Etchings, Mind-Boggling Patterns

TEASER: "It was carved inside a space of time from another dimension of civilization even far from the dawn of Christianity..."

5. The whole trail is 3-6 hours depending on your pace. So start early. Bring a minimum of 2 liters of water. Eat a heavy breakfast and bring snacks.

6. Wear something that could protect you from bushes and/or other elements that could trigger skin allergy you could obtain along the trail. The clothes you wear should be comfortable. Wear hiking shoes. If you're planning to prepare for the clothes you should wear, Zalora Christmas Bazaar would be a convenient place for you to shop online. Don't bring unnecessary stuff. Hike as light as possible. Now you're ready to experience the pleasure of adventure!

Bontoc #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of #Bontoc

Click map to view latest articles covering Mountain Province


[BONTOC] Bayyo Rice Terraces and Waterfalls - Highland Paradise Living

TEASER: "The presence of the rice terraces is an evidence of an engineering expertise of the Igorot ancestors..."

[CERVANTES] Rice Terraces | Turning to Vegetable Terraces Too

TEASER: " time is wasted, their limited farming fields at the slope of the mountain become productive all year round."

[SADANGA] Mt. Province: Bekigan Rice Terraces, a Cultural Heritage

TEASER: "...not every beautiful beach should be crowded, not every mountain should be hiked and for the case of Bekigan Rice Terraces, not every rice terraces should be flocked by visitors."
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"This moment made me arrive to the realization that the passion for traveling is age-independent and the possibility of traveling solo around the world in old age is not a theory."

If you grow old, do you think you can still do the long hiking you've always wanted to do? Or summit a mountain without the direful joint pain? Strength, that's the edge of the youthful age. For the old men, strength becomes something that's earned, or an investment from taking medicines that could strengthen the body funded by a pension accumulated from years of hard work during those times they are still strong.

Daniel, an 81-year-old Canadian Solo Backpacker

Until one day... I never thought I would ever meet a strong old man in person who loves backpacking with no complaints of nape pain and joint aches. Having been able to meet him is not just about dipping the sole to the pond of inspirations in keeping the vagabonding spirit alive. That encounter changed my perspective in life not just about traveling but also in shooting my targeted aspirations.

Daniel is his name. Beautiful name! I suddenly remember a Bible character named Daniel who kept his faith. He was a disciplined man, healthy in all aspects: physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

Daniel is a Canadian solo backpacker. He has chosen to live this way. I met him in #BONTOC during a cultural celebration in town. I saw him seated in a corner with his video camera perched on a tripod. I approached him, we watched the cultural show and a conversation arising from two different generations filled the age gap. I have been hooked into his stories and our common interest has just cloistered us away from the crowd.

I asked him what is his secret of living a youthful life in his age. He told me he has successfully avoided cigar and alcohol in his younger years. I learned that in 1986, he has been in the same place. But that time was totally different. He told me that getting to Bontoc was a painful 12 hours of riding in a bus along a lonely dusty, mischievous and dreadful road from #BAGUIO to Bontoc. He then claimed that he was surprised with the massive change in development in this part of #CORDILLERA.

This moment made me arrive to the realization that the passion of traveling is age-independent and the possibility of traveling solo around the world in old age is not a theory. Daniel has just set an axiomatically perfect example.

Igorot old men: not the solo backpacker breed though

As we watch the great ol' men of Bontoc dancing to the tune of their traditions, I realized that life is too short and Daniel is not wasting a single second of his time. He still invests in earning experiences and banking happy memories in that old age.

While [some member of] the younger generation spend their youthful years to partying (I am referring to the sinful way), engaging in vices and unhealthy lifestyle, Daniel has just clearly chosen his priority. He maintained a good health because he still want to do his passion even when he gets old.

Another old man, he is not a Canadian though

Igorot old men circle, not sure if I will wear that when I get old though

For Daniel, he knows where he is going even when he was young. He knows his direction. He has been guided by a distinct passion in life. And uhmm, he told me his 85-year-old sister also do backpacking.

To Daniel, I don't know when we'll meet again, or I don't know if the second chance of meeting you would be possible. But if ever you stumble on this page, I just want to let you know sir that this post is my tribute to you for inspiring an ordinary young man like me (in contrast to your age) to become extraordinary, one day, someday. /end

Bontoc #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of #Bontoc

Click map to view latest articles covering Mountain Province


[BONTOC] ► The Last Generation of Overt Igorots in the Cordilleras

TEASER ▬ Each second counts, and each second that has passed means losing another second of their generation.

[BONTOC] ► Finding Shelter in Alab's Mt. Data: Happy Memories with Strangers

TEASER ▬ By time, I may forget them, so, I have to write a story about that experience that I may still remember those precious memories...

[BONTOC] ► Cultural Experience with the Ammutan/Muyadan Tribe of Manabo

TEASER ▬ There was a language barrier but the mere fact that I am witnessing a portion of their culture has made me think that...

[VIGAN] ► Meeting the Oldest Palaspas Weaver for Palm Sunday at 74 years old

TEASER ▬ All I can see on the face of Lola Conchita is the sincerity in her craft—that she loves it so much in spite of her age.

[BANTAY] ► The Trike Toploader Kids of Sallacong

TEASER ▬ I was following their way and even the sunset would signal that they have to take a rest for now, the sunrise will again come tomorrow giving them new strength, new hope...

[DAGUPAN] ► The Beki Faith Healer at A.B. Fernandez Avenue

TEASER ▬ His goal now is to instill acceptance. On how he will receive acceptance in this society with set of rules and standards depends on the fruit of his actions.

[TINGLAYAN] ► Kin-ay: the First Kalinga Tattooed Woman I Met

TEASER ▬ A person came close. He gently grabbed Kin-ay's arm and showed me her name. Wow! That was a lovely way of telling her name!

[TINGLAYAN] ► Fang-Od (Whang-Od): The Last Tribal Tattoo Artist of Kalinga

TEASER ▬ She's ending the tradition not by her choice but by the call of our ever changing society.