"Prehistoric mountain dwellers inhabited this place leaving a mark that became an evidence of their existence. "

Alab Village in Bontoc, Mountain Province is probably a haven for archaeologists and for people who love studying the extreme past. I will never know its worth if I didn't personally visit the tourism office located at the Bontoc Town Hall.

Alab Oriente, Bontoc, Mountain Province title=

Your breathtaking connection to Alab Oriente, Bontoc

I feel sad, not many find things like this interesting. Many are so captivated by the mainstream, uber-publicized destinations on which however, I am not against, in fairness. Well, I have to understand, 4 to 6 hours of mountain hiking and TREKKING


Click here to view the latest articles under the topic *Trekking*. / Photo: Baringcucurong | #Suyo, Ilocos Sur, Philippines
would be too calorie-depleting and lung-endurance is a mainstay.

You need to exert much effort and then what you're just going to see are stones and stone carvings. So what about those stones? See stones and just stones in exchange of the 4-6 hours of effort? Sounds uncool for most -- well not me.

Photo Gallery: a welcoming view of Alab Village (hover to see captions)

Alab Village | Bontoc, Mt. ProvinceAlab Village | Bontoc, Mt. Province

And yes, what makes this village ancient is the presence of these stones that signify the presence of human civilization dating back those years unwritten in our history. Prehistoric mountain dwellers inhabited this place leaving a mark that became an evidence of their existence. 

I am referring to the Alab Petroglyphs, the Ganga Stone Houses and some other mysterious stone formations I discovered there which will be given a separate post. These stones have made this village a home for a rich cultural heritage that will jar your brain (Watch out for the separate post on this topic).

This village is still a home to authentic Bontok tribes. Although most residents are now living the modern way, there are still some people who practice and wear the icons of their traditions, mostly the elders.

Another interesting feature of this village is the presence of three sacred grounds called Dap-ayan, Kabingwilan, and Patpatayan. I learned that many residents here still believe with supernatural powers and elements of nature that determine the fate of their community.

Photo Gallery: Dap-ayan or Ato in Alab Oriente (hover to see captions)

Alab Village | Bontoc, Mt. ProvinceAlab Village | Bontoc, Mt. ProvinceAlab Village | Bontoc, Mt. ProvinceAlab Village | Bontoc, Mt. Province

Dap-ayan, as I said, is one of the three sacred grounds in Alab Village. During those days where the Bontok tribal society is still the prevailing system, dap-ayan or ato used to be the venue of many important social and community activities.

This sacred ground is a place where members of the tribe practice their customs and traditions often delivered in the form of singing, dancing and playing of gongs (gansa) in honor of their gods. It was mainly a paganistic ritual which does not jive with the Christian point of view.

In this place, the people gather for ceremonies before bringing their sacrificial offerings to the patpatayan, another sacred ground located at the top of a mountain in Alab Oriente.

Notice those wood carving at the photos above. These wood carvings represent the headhunting culture of our Igorot brothers. Tribal wars were rampant before for the sake of maintaining the integrity of their tribe and ancestral domains. Each wood carving of a human face represents a person killed. The more wood carvings made, the more persons were headhunted. 

It is weird how killing other people is integrated with the sacredness of this ground. Well to date, gone are those days of headhunting and these carvings are now just marks of the past. 

The dap-ayan is still used until now for their rituals but the way they do their ceremonies is no longer as similar or authentic as the ways of the past. The people here have embraced the modern world and this sacred ground is no longer considered as sacred to some extent as it was before (Notice some garbage at the last photo above).

Alab Village | Bontoc, Mountain Province

Patpatayan (Sacrificial Ground) at Alab Oriente

The next sacred ground in Alab Oriente Village is the patpatayan. Patpatayan is located at the top of the mountain. It is a sacrificial altar for the people of this village.

This sacred ground is a place where the people believe to have an effect to their health. The villagers offer animals here for the gods in exchange of good health and cure to their illnesses.

I was not able to capture a photo of this sacred ground that's why I am showing you a photo I took from the brochure.

Alab Oriente | Bontoc, Mountain Province

Kabingwilan (Virgin Bamboo Forest) of Alab Oriente

If the patpatayan is believed to have effects to the health of the villagers, kabingwilan, a thick bamboo forest at the center of the village is believed to have effects in the condition of nature and environment.

No one in the community is allowed to cut any bamboo here since it is considered as a great crime. Something bad will happen if the bamboos here are cut or altered. People believe that the kabingwilan is the reason for some weather disturbances and to stop it, the villagers have to offer pigs or chickens.

These are the three sacred grounds in Alab Oriente, #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


FAST FACTS: A destination of rich mountain culture and heritage, this province boasts of it's burial caves, sacred grounds, local village practices and great natural wonders. / Photo: Lang-ay Cultural Festival.
but the marks of the ancient civilization is not over yet.

The search isn't over yet

It requires hiking and trekking. Some parts of the trail have stairs but that just accounts for the 25% of the whole trail. I climbed a MOUNTAIN


Click here to view the latest articles under the topic *Mountains* / Photo: Mt. Polis | Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines
and trekked to deadly paths just to satisfy my curiosity.

I need to get a guide (photo above is my guide) so that I will not be lost in the trail, and of course, to be able to locate the important points and for security purposes. /to be continued...


Mt. Gotong, Mt. Data | Hiking the 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."
| 3

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..."
| 4

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 every time I do the recalling of happy moments."
| 5

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."
| 6

Evidence of Jar Burial in the Philippines as seen in Bontoc

TEASER: "They left an evidence to let us know they once existed but the complete details on why they have to do this is a thing only known to them."
| 7

Ganga House, the Ruined Pig Pen and Goodbye Mystical Mountain

TEASER: "Still, it is significant because it is an ancient mark, an evidence of prehistoric civilization. The trek continues..."
| 8

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."

Do you want to discover Alab Village by yourself? Hit me an email at edmaration@gmail.com and I will give you the name of the guide including her contact number and more details. Also, you can contact me in my facebook page and twitter if you don't have an email on which I doubt.

Bontoc #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of #Bontoc

Click map to view latest articles covering Mountain Province




Born and Raised in Vigan, Philippines. Hardcore Ilocano-Cordilleran. Professional Nurse on Weekdays. Coffee Addict. Travel Blogger in Between. For collaboration or partnership, email your business proposal at admin@edmaration.com.

Post A Comment:


  1. Very Interesting Ed, I kinda liking your investigative approach of setting foot in every places in Northern Luzon. I knew there's a lot more to discover in our country and revealing these informative and insightful ideas from your end is the good way to start. I hope we could collaborate someday in exploring more of Luzon.

  2. Sky Summer | Yeah Jo. I really love investigating and giving a place a different package not so-expected by most. ;-) And agree, there's a lot of place to see in the Philippines, in Luzon alone, hyperbolic-ally, there's gazillion!

  3. parang documentaries ng gma Edmar ah! ;) read about these tribal traditions from books but not as detailed as your account here. yours is very informative, complete with photos and first-hand info from the locals themselves. galing!

  4. Talinggaw | Thanks Tal, actually, I am a fan of GMA Documentaries especially of Kara David's. I have been pulling inspiration from them in written form :)

  5. Bontoc speaks of what the past is all about of the Philippines. You got some historical pasts about the place, which are not yet known or familiar with the PH historian as far as I am concerned.

  6. Gil Camporazo | I think so sir, that's one of the perks of backpacking :) You gotta learn the stories of a place first hand, from the locals themselves, which I enjoy a lot sir :)

  7. 4-6 hours of trekking is really tiring and I think I wouldn't last long under the hot sun in this trip.

  8. Rochkirstin Santos | Hey gal, you can do it! Just take it slowly :)

  9. This place looks great, and it looks like have a lot of history of the Philippines on it's past.

  10. Nganga ako sa first photo bro :) ikaw na ang hari ng Norte :) katakot ang history ng head wood carvings :)

  11. The ties of Bontoc to prehistoric times makes it really interesting place to visit.

  12. AdoboTech Digital Technology | Actually! Yes there's a lot, even prehistoric Philippines :)

  13. Traveling Morion | Oo nga eh. pero wala nang headhunting ngayon :)

  14. This is a rare travel adventure I should say for this is the first time that I explore this place through your efforts, courage and indefatigable search for unknown. These things could serve as evidence and documentation for the prehistoric past of Alab Oriente. Good job!

  15. this sure looks like a very interesting place to visit. that hanging bridge is really breathtaking. hopefully i get to see this place one day with my son.

    it is really high time we discover hidden treasures like this place right here in our country! thanks for letting us in on your tour!

  16. Ganda ng place! That bridge and the beautiful scenery around it look so majestic together! =)

  17. jared's mum @ musings on meanderings | Yes, we really have to explore our own land, it has a lot of things to offer! Thanks!

  18. Kim Nieves | Couldn't agree more. It is more beautiful in person :)

  19. I didn't know it was this interesting history kind in Alab. I stayed there for 2 years when I was a kid. We enjoyed swimming under that bridge, climbed that mountain to "Uma" (where the stone carvings are) to plant/harvest in the rice field, and many more experiences. I'm not aware that these activities we do back then are being longed for by people living in the cities. And when I came here in the lowlands (Pangasinan and Tarlac to be specific) to work, I discovered that most lowlanders doesn't know about Igorot people. Maybe because they seldom hear about the Igorots or maybe during their history subjects, Igorot were not even mentioned. And now, through your awesome adventures, your effort of sharing your discoveries, our Kababayans are being acquainted about us, Igorots. So, Kudos to you Edmar!! Mabuhay ka, kabsat! ("Matago-tago ka" in Igorot term)

    Mia Begay

  20. Levis | Thank you so much for reading. You know what, the first time I was with these people and in Bontoc, I was comfortable and I feel good with the place and the people. Until 3 days ago, I just learned that I have an ancestry from Bontoc! It feels great to know about that! Oh well, my great grandparents (paternal) were from Bontoc!

    That is probably the reason why I feel so welcomed when I went there! I wish I could be back there, again :)

  21. Nice article sir. How do you get to Mt. Gotong and Data from Bontoc town center? Are guides readily available from Bontoc town? I hope you can help us contact your guide.

  22. Anonymous | Hi, get a trike from Bontoc. Or ride a bus bound to Baguio then drop at Alab Oriente. :)


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