October 2013

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Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"I am soliloquizing under the scorching strike of the sun that is adding more agony to my weary self. I hope I am not yet lost. But if ever I'm lost, at least I'm lost in a paradise."

When I said hiking solo, I really mean it literally since some people say they hike solo but with a guide or a porter. My guide this time was my instinct and there's no need for a porter since I can do the job myself. Hush, hush... or else I will be talking to myself.

A basic need called rest


The idea of going straight to Buscalan without any contact or a guide is not a result of an emotional depression leading to suicide. This is not a suicide by the way. This is how I explore when I want to see, discover or learn something as driven by curiosity. I push beyond the limit and thanks to my friends and my parents for the warnings, though I am a stubborn son and a friend who doesn't consider friendly advice.

Looking for help and direction. It would be my first time to land to KALINGA this moment and I'm sure this won't be the last. On how I got here was the result of an interaction with a stranger in a computer shop in #BONTOC

#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
where I checked e-mails and social media updates through a rented computer. I heard a lady talking about #TINGLAYAN

#TINGLAYAN

FAST FACTS: This town located at the southern part of Kalinga province gained attention upon the rediscovery of the last authentic "mambabatok" (traditional tattoo artist) whose works are linked to headhunting and beauty based on the perspective of their culture.

Photo: Bugnay Village in Tinglayan
in local dialect how I wish I was able to understand. But the fact that she was mentioning this place on which I have been dreaming to see because of its authentic culture (and if there will be a good view, that's a bonus), I left my seat from the computer shop and talked to her.

I asked her about the directions going to Tinglayan and she didn't fail me. This lady was an angel from up above. The next day, I went to the location mentioned by this lady that I surmise, in her early 40s. I rode into a bus and had a rough ride through the BONTOC-TABUK ROAD

[CORDILLERA] Bontoc-Tabuk Road: Mt. Province-Kalinga Border Crossing

TEASER: "My blunt brain due to being deprived of sleep was instantly reset to sight-seeing mode after it hibernated for a while when I started seeing this wonderful view that temporarily locked my jaw."
. I passed through the high town of #SADANGA

#SADANGA

FAST FACTS: #Sadanga is located north of the capital town of #Bontoc and south of the Kalinga town of #Tinglayan. It is believed to be the town of the early elites of Mt. Province.

Photo: Bekigan Rice Terraces @ Sadanga, Mt. Province
until I reached Bugnay, the first village in Kalinga Province from the south via the road I mentioned above..

A moment in Bugnay. From BUGNAY VILLAGE

[TINGLAYAN] Bugnay Rice Terraces and that Lucky Village in Kalinga

TEASER: "The Kalinga prima facie evidence in terms of beauty should not be a subject for debate because if I were to be the judge, the evidence is too strong to put the case to rest."
, I asked individuals how can I go to Buscalan. Someone told me I have to hike for two to three hours (may vary according to your pace). That's all they have to say. I asked if they know Fang-Od. One man told me he doesn't know her. Out of all the people who know her, I was destined to meet this man who has nothing to say at all. But I mentioned the tattoo artist (mambabatok) in Buscalan. Then he maybe recalled. He knows that woman, but not by her name.

Before I decided to hike, I spent a moment in a small settlement in Bugnay located along the road mingling with the locals and hunting for tattooed old Kalinga women. I found two. I took photos of them, they asked me for a fee. I gave them a tip as they requested.

An ancient start, an ancient stone. After gathering enough information from the locals, I started the hike. Someone pointed where should I start and that I should step to that stone. The local told me the stone I am going to step onto is the original stone used by the locals since time immemorial. It has been used by the tribesmen to hike up to Buscalan. I'm not really sure if this man was telling the truth. Remember, one of the villagers here doesn't even know who Fang-Od is.

Start of the solo hike, one of the stones is the official stepping stone


It's just an ordinary looking stone. However, the fact that this stone has been there since then and has served its purpose for all the people who are going to Buscalan, this stone is something to look after too. It's a small yet great piece of the culture, history and heritage of the people living here.

No guide. Very limited idea. Thanks to a bus driver, the one who took charge of our lives while taking the deadly road to Bugnay. Aside from his expertise in driving to a road like this, he has been of so much help on how I should go to Buscalan. He was the one who told me to drop off in Bugnay. I told him I have heard I should stay first in a village called Luplupa but he told me that's already far and I should start the hike in Bugnay.

Well after this helpful information, wherein I saved a penny of still going to Luplupa (where a guide is available) and stay there overnight then go back to Bugnay again, the problem now is who will be my guide and how will I reach that village? Here I am again, why I am punishing myself this way? Linger, I realized I have to do this. No turning back. I am now here.


A view of the rice terraces from a higher ground


I have heard that the tour guide whose name is Francis is from Luplupa. But since I didn't go to Luplupa and went straight to Buscalan, there is no other choice but to go alone, come what may.

Somehow I have this little fear about the possibility that headhunting exists here still. You know it's my first time and I am alone I told you. Although I have convinced myself that headhunting is long gone, my situation now pushes me to believe there are still remnants of this practice. But more than this, I have a fear of encountering insurgents for a first-timer like me who doesn't even know how to go to the place I am trying to visit.

Not enough breakfast. I remember the hotel staff in Bontoc where I stayed has to wake up early and cook for early bird's breakfast including me since I am leaving my hotel room at dawn. The chicken meal they have cooked was oh-so-good! During the hike, I started to believe that it was not a good breakfast to supply me an ample energy. If I should have known that the situation would be like this, I should have eaten more.

As I got hungry along the trail on which there's nowhere I can buy a food and I could just lost my consciousnesses anytime due to hypoglycemia, my body is demanding for a food, more carbohydrates would be better. But where should I get a food? Then I remembered something.

My gift for Fang-Od vs. my life. Before I went to Buscalan and meet Fang-Od, I bought packs of sugar and bread for her as a gift. But my body is longing for energy. The solo hike with no guide nor any idea at all on how to reach and how far the village is, was not an easy situation. Now I remember I have this food in my backpack.

So I have to open the packed breads and eat. That should be my gift to Fang-Od but I don't want to punish myself this way. To put the case to rest, I will eat. That was my first time mountainside solitary dining experience.

It's now nearly 30 minutes of hiking and I have been losing body fluids through sweat while replacing it by drinking the limited bottle of water I brought with me. Should I wanted to bring more water, it will be an additional burden for me since it makes my backpack heavier. Besides, my backpack has no more space for new items while hand-carrying a bottle of water for me is a major hassle.

Light breakfast on a mountainside


How far? How hard? I have been hiking for about an hour now and I still can't find people along the way aside from this two cows that blocked the narrow trail I am taking. I am not even sure this time if I am following the right path. I believe I'm halfway since it has been an hour (they say it is 2 hours) but still, I can not see any individual or a village from afar. Am I on the right track?

It's a long long hike. More mountains to hike.


I have been grasping for breathe. I am so tired. I am so thirsty. I am getting weak. Where have all the people and the villagers gone? Where am I now? What part of Kalinga is this? Am I still in Kalinga? I am soliloquizing under the the scorching strike of the sun that is adding more agony for my weary self. I hope I am not yet lost. But if ever I'm lost, at least I'm lost now in a paradise.

I looked to that distant mountain. I can see the trail. It's a long long hike ahead. My mind has to come to the point of weighing things and at some points of time, a confusion. The fact that I am not seeing any village where this path is leading is making me weak! Where is the village? Anybody here? And what the heck still am I doing in this empty, mysterious destination without a place to buy my favorite fruit shake and a sachet of a 3-in-1 coffee I drink at least 3X a day? However, it was my decision and if something happens to me, it's my fault, but with this situation, I need a wise decision if I should continue or not. I'm halfway (how I greatly wish I'm really halfway, and how would I know?), or this would mean halfway to risking my life? I think I'm crazy. If ever I should survive the solo expedition, this will be a memorable journey -- that's for sure! But if I won't be successful to accomplish it, still, it is memorable. /to be continued...

*BUSCALAN SOLO INVASION SUB-SERIES | 1 | 2

[TINGLAYAN] The Day I Hiked Solo to Buscalan, Kalinga - Part 2/2


TEASER: "So I thought the hike is over, but as I took a turn on that road, I saw the other side of the mountain and it doesn't look like I am getting any closer. It goes farther, and farther..."
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[TINGLAYAN] Fang-Od (Whang-Od): The Last Tribal Tattoo Artist of Kalinga


TEASER: "She is unwittingly ending a tradition she is not supposed to end. She's ending the tradition not by her choice but by the call of our ever changing society."
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[TINGLAYAN] 17 Great Memories + First Time Encounters in Buscalan, Kalinga

TEASER: "Buscalan rose to fame because of Fang-od. But Buscalan is more than Fang-od. It is more than the tribal tattoo."
| 5

[TINGLAYAN] Chewed, Swallowed Frogs in Buscalan, Kalinga

TEASER: "We talked with joy behind the darkness. That dinner unleashed the real us. The candlelight was a silent witness of our fears, happiness and life's perspectives."
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[TINGLAYAN] There was No Sunrise in Buscalan, Kalinga

TEASER: "So the sun didn't shine that morning. However, I was able to understand the other side of the story."
| 7

[TINGLAYAN] Buscalan Rice Terraces Kissed the Clouds

TEASER: "This is my story about the Buscalan Rice Terraces. At first there is a foreplay with the clouds but it always ends up with a satisfactory finish."
| 8

[TINGLAYAN] Blacksmith Kingdom of Kalinga: Turning Stones into Fire

TEASER: "If there is no concept of poverty, there shall be no poverty. But poverty has been introduced by greedy kingdoms while the little kingdom dwellers of the mountains recognized its presence."

Tinglayan #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of #Tinglayan

Click map to view latest articles covering Kalinga


MORE POSTS FROM THIS CATEGORY: *EXPERIENCES*

[CORDILLERA] Bontoc-Tabuk Road: Mt. Province-Kalinga Border Crossing

TEASER: "My blunt brain due to being deprived of sleep was instantly reset to sight-seeing mode after it hibernated for a while when I started seeing this wonderful view that temporarily locked my jaw."

[LICUAN-BAAY] Challengingly Sweet Journey to Licuan-Baay, Abra

TEASER: "No complaints. I am loving it not that I want to do it so that I have something to write but because it activates my brain cells to think, analyze and think again."

[LICUAN-BAAY] An Introduction to the Town-of-Gold

TEASER: "The scope of Licuan-Baay is extensive and expansive. You need to get a guide beforehand who is familiar enough of the town. Reaching the barangays and communities of the Tingguian (Itneg) people is tricky"

[ILOCOS] My First Habal-Habal Ride... in Search for the House of the gods

TEASER: "The ride was full of adventure. I spotted a lot of waterfalls, hanging bridges, and the endless charm of the towering mountains with the Amburayan River flowing in between them."

[SABLAN] Benguet | Surviving the Threats of Thick Fog

TEASER: "A look at the driver's area and seeing the road ahead, I can not see the road and everything has just turned to white! This gave me fear."

[SAN MANUEL] Pangasinan | The Backride Tour

TEASER: "How I love the experience of getting familiar to a place while riding at the back of a pick-up. I was able to see the left and the right side of the road and smile at the driver of the vehicle coming next to us."

[CERVANTES] Ilocos Sur | It's All Fog at the Historical Bessang Pass

TEASER: "I came here under the scorching heat of the sun in the extended summer for June but reaching the place seems like it is already December..."

[BANTAY] Campo Bulag, Ilocos Sur | Visiting the Military on Fire

TEASER: "Entering the area is like you're in a hidden forest. It is enclosed with fences and a lot of trees planted. It is not an exposed place. It's just really in a secret place."
NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.

Some cool netizens liked, commented, and shared this.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"The Kalinga prima facie evidence in terms of beauty should not be a subject for debate because if I were to be the judge, the evidence is too strong for further argument."

That day when I set foot to the land of the last generation of folks where the evidence of centuries-old tradition of tattooing is still evident, I was welcomed with nothing less but this breath-stopping view that is pupil-dilating and retina-protruding. If this is a fairy tale, my straight eyelashes could have knelt down in awe and respect without the help of an eyelash curler used by some girls in flirting, not here in Kalinga please. Pretty girls will forget they are pretty upon seeing this prettier-than-pink marvelous view of the Bugnay Rice Terraces.

Bugnay Rice Terraces and Village

Bugnay Village with the Rice Terraces all around, how cool is that?


This is the grand welcome I experienced in Kalinga for that first-time I landed within its frontiers, on its rugged terrain, within the bounds of its own identity and beauty.

Based on the words of non-traveler friends I know, Kalinga is a dangerous place, and for that, I should not risk my life getting into the territories of headhunters protecting their ancestral domains from invaders. That's what these people are thinking about Kalinga.

This awful mindset could have emanated from the fact that the province is not easy to reach due to poor road conditions, so there is a few knowledge and documentation as to the beauty and intrinsic culture it has to offer that could surely gain an authority within the grounds of socio-cultural tourism.

Bugnay Village in Kalinga

How nice is to live in this village?


Bugnay Village can be seen along the BONTOC-TABUK ROAD

[CORDILLERA] Bontoc-Tabuk Road: Mt. Province-Kalinga Boundary Crossing

TEASER: "My blunt brain due to being deprived of sleep was instantly reset to sight-seeing mode after it hibernated for a while when I started seeing this wonderful view that temporarily locked my jaw."
. The rice terraces that decorate the village into a cultural landscape is also very visible beyond fiber glass windows of every mini-bus and/or any vehicle that traverses the road.

Those huge terraced rice fields hold that village perfectly and the villagers that maintain them. It has turned into a paradise of culture and heritage. I laughed-off the idea that KALINGA

KALINGA

FAST FACTS: Kalinga is believed to be the home of the last headhunters of the Cordilleras.

Photo: Bugnay Village @ Tinglayan, Kalinga
is dangerous until I experienced it by myself, backpacking solo where I applied the idea of "stay calm and get lost" on which I don't know where to go next because of this unplanned trip.

Bugnay Rice Terraces

How big your mouth is when you said WOW!?


How lucky am I! The unplanned trip has turned to be one of my favorite CORDILLERA

CORDILLERA

FAST FACTS: A mountainous region in the Philippines' Luzon island composed of 6 provinces with distinct people and dialect namely Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.

Photo: Abra River in Pidigan, Abra
trips for a lifetime! The view of the village itself is already a warm welcome you would never think headhunters used to live here.

The moment I alighted from the bus, I hurriedly ran near the corner of the road to aimlessly wander around. My heavy backpack as the result of a 7-day backpacking in the Cordilleras has seemed to become very light as I rushed effortlessly in excitement near the cliff where I was able to afford a close to perfect vantage point. 

Bugnay Village and Rice Terraces

How come this place is so cool?!


All the burdens I was feeling that moment have seemed to be carried away by the gracious wonder that has let me assume the ideology of Buddha of being under the state of Nirvana, and not even close to the self-exaltation that dirty politicians and government heads are feeling while enjoying the funds of the country under the state of evil influence.

The experience is pure, it is ethereal that it was stirring my veneration and strongly-founded belief to God who has given us a wonderful place to live. Thank you Lord!
Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga

The Road, the River, the Rice Terraces - T3


The village of Bugnay is such a very lucky place to have situated in a location where organic agriculture exists, even in raising livestock. The fresh clean air is never on doubt. The beautiful view is never moot. 

The Chico River separates the village from the other side of the town so you have to cross the footbridge for you to be able to enter this culturally important destination.

Bugnay Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga

Footbridge to Bugnay Village


While waiting for someone (a local, if I will be the lucky guy to find one) to help me find the direction on my way to Buscalan Village (another village located in a higher altitude accessible only on foot), I didn't let the opportunity to just pass by without me absorbing every single beautiful memory I can collect in this wondrous destination I never thought I would ever see.

Bugnay Rice Terraces

How marvelous is that?


Bugnay Village

Uh! I can marvel with that!


The Kalinga prima facie evidence in terms of beauty should not be a subject for debate because if I were to be the judge, the evidence is too strong for further argument.

The lucky village situated amidst gigantic verdant ladders might be too rural and left behind what's new and cool in the cities but one thing is for sure, they live within their means under the blessing of their perseverance enforced by contentment that makes them rich in life. They don't have slums, they own this huge parcel of ancestral land signifying a precolonial civilization that came first before the Spanish rule in Manila and other cities. The people of this village have their thousand-year-old civilization and culture so don't mess with them.

When all the cities have come to the point that slums are rampant, the people here will just stay calm and be rich for possessing towering mountains and ancestral lands that are truly their wealth. That has made me realize that richness is not about lifestyle, possessing gadgets and big houses. It is something that will never cease, even after death. /end

__________________________________________________
HOW TO GET HERE + EASY TRAVEL TIPS AND TRICKS
NOTE: This trip is via Bontoc

1. From Bontoc, ride on a bus bound for Tabuk and/or Tinglayan. The parking area is located near the Mountain Province Polytechnic State College along the main road. Or if you are not sure, just ask any local politely this way: "Where is the parking area of mini-buses bound for Kalinga?" They will tell you where.

2. As far as I can remember the first trip is around 5-6 am (depending upon the volume of passengers). The second trip is around 9 am.

3. If you have your own motorbike (or should you wish to drive an SUV or a posh car - goodluck!), just follow the road northwards. It could take up to 1 hour before you reach the site. If you choose to commute, the fare (as far as I remember) is around 80 pesos (as of this writing) up to Bugnay Village in Tinglayan.

4. Alight in Bugnay drop-off point. The rice terraces and the village can already be seen from there. Enjoy!

*EN ROUTE: BONTOC-SADANGA-TINGLAYAN SUB-SERIES: 1

[SADANGA] 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."
| 2

[CORDILLERA] Bontoc-Tabuk Road: Mt. Province-Kalinga Boundary Crossing

TEASER: "My blunt brain due to being deprived of sleep was instantly reset to sight-seeing mode after it hibernated for a while when I started seeing this wonderful view that temporarily locked my jaw."
| 3

Tinglayan #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of #Tinglayan

Click map to view latest articles covering Kalinga


MORE POSTS FROM THIS CATEGORY: *RICE TERRACES*

[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."

[BONTOC] Palali Rice Terraces: Of First-time Penetration, Pain and Pleasure

TEASER: "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."

[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: "...no time is wasted, their limited farming fields at the slope of the mountain become productive all year round."

[TINGLAYAN] Buscalan Rice Terraces Kissed the Clouds

TEASER: "This is my story about the Buscalan Rice Terraces. At first there is a foreplay with the clouds but it always ends up with a satisfactory finish."
NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.