Now, the region is subdivided into 6 provinces: Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Abra, with Baguio City as its regional center; and each province has a dominant ethnic group: for Abra it's the Tingguians; for Apayao - Isneg; Benguet - Ibaloi; Ifugao - Ifugao; Kalinga - Kalinga; Mt. Province - Bontoc and Kankanaey.
I am forever a fan of these people, my desire to immerse in their distinct culture has been growing everytime I get to visit a new Cordillera province. Of the six provinces, I've already explored Benguet, Ifugao and Mt. Province. So when a friend told me they're bound for Kalinga, I blocked off the date and made sure I'll be part of their trip.
Friday - July 19, 2013
I woke up, still on the road aboard Cable Bus, and I can see from my window familiar mountainous scenes. Ah, we're passing by the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. "Are we stopping?" I asked myself, "apparently not." We're just an hour away from Bontoc, the closest major town to Tinglayan in Kalinga, the day's goal.
It was 8 in the monring when the almost 12 hour bus ride ended. Finally, we arrived at Bontoc. At that moment, all we wanted was a good breakfast and probably a good mountain brew, so we headed straight to the first restaurant we spotted. They have pasta dishes and sandwiches, tamang tama lang. We asked the restaurant owner what time the next public transpo to Kalinga be leaving, she said the last bus just left, but two more jeepneys are scheduled to leave in the afternoon. So right after the meal, we went to where the jeepneys were parked (beside Bontoc College) and queried about the schedule of trips—next jeep to Tabuk is at 1 PM.
|at the streets of Bontoc Poblacion|
|jeepney ride to Tinglayan.|
At around 3:20 PM, we alighted the jeep where the big signboard saying "Luplupa Riverside Inn" is found. We finally arrived after more than two hours of travel from Bontoc.
|touchdown Tinglayan, Kalinga Province|
Tinglayan Town and the Sickly Traveler
From the main road, we walked towards the Riverside Inn located on the other side of Chico River. We crossed a long shaky cable bridge, entered the narrow streets, carefully avoiding the pigs and chicken and their shit that were scattered around. Riverside Inn isn't exactly on the riverside but at the heart of Luplupa Village.
|Chico River under me|
Once settled, I dropped my bag and seated at the balcony. I munched on my packed snack since we're not yet taking a true lunch. Then all of a sudden, I felt ill. Yes, bigla akong nilagnat! Nevertheless, I still joined my friends when they strolled at the village's rice fields found at the back of our inn.
|we were right in time for the harvest season|
|rice fields of Luplupa Village|
|freshly harvested rice!|
By dinner time, we requested the house owner to serve us with anything for dinner, and they did. What we had that night was beans, boiled and unseasoned. If you're too picky, bring your own meal. Tinglayan is entirely a farming town and very rural, so don't expect any city food once there. I thankfully consumed my meal despite the uncomfortable sickly feeling that night. I got no choice anyway. hehe.
|what's up for dinner? Beans, of course.|
Saturday - July 20, 2013
The Old Tattoo Artist of Buscalan
The following day, the five of us left Luplupa, met with Victor Baculi (the recommended tour guide from Luplupa), and hopped on the 7AM jeep to Buscalan. Of course, everyone got excited to meet Apo Whang-Od, the old and last mambabatok.
|on our way, sir Victor pointed on the Sleeping Beauty. The mountain that resembles a sleeping lady. Can you see her in this photo?|
|Terraces of Buscalan|
|getting a tattoo from her needs bravery and love for culture. I love my culture, but I guess I'm not brave enough.|
|Apo Whang-Od opened her doors to us for one night.|
|my friends checked this book for tattoo patterns|
|Apo Whang-od will then prepare her tools, all are new, to get the tattooing started.|
By 3PM, we roamed around Buscalan to see more of the Kalinga culture. What is there to see?
|I noticed that many elders wear sleeve tattoo.|
If you were to take pictures or portraits of them, be sure to give them matchboxes in exchange.
|a typical traditional Kalinga house.|
|even the kids help in daily household chores.|
|they also have a blacksmith in town|
|pigs roam around the town like dogs. at madami sila|
|more rice. we came on a harvest season|
While strolling around the village's rice terraces, rain suddenly poured down. Of course this made us rush back to Apo Whang-od's place. The nice old woman then served us with aromatic freshly brewed mountain coffee, which I liked very much.
|when in Kalinga, don't miss their local brewed coffee.|
Sunday - July 21, 2013
We had to leave early morning the following day, first trip back to Bontoc is at 7, and we had to catch it. So, just before the sun rise, we left Apo Whang-od, thanked her of course for welcoming us and giving us a remarkable culturally enriching experience. And I hugged her tight to express my gratitude.
|sunrise while trekking back to highway|
|The great day revealed scenic views and pleasing landscapes during the trek.|
|Bugnay Village (another cultural village in Tinglayan) as seen from the trail|
Topload Ride and the Scenic Chico River
Our jeep arrived moments after we reached the highway. Saktong sakto. And even if it was empty inside, my instinct told me to go up for a topload ride.
|Definitely a must-do when riding in Kalinga.|
|Bugnay Terraces as seen from topload|
|some parts of the road eroded, quite scary noh?|
|another rice terraces spotted|
|the river is also a good for rafting sports. In Tabuk (a city in Kalinga), white water rafting with easy, intermediate and pro courses is being offered. It's quite pricey though.|
|another beautiful rice terraces along Chico river|
|The scenic topload ride lasted only an hour. By 9:40 AM, we're already approaching Bontoc Town. Too sad that our Kalinga trip will end very soon.|
Without a doubt, our cultural trip to Kalinga Province was a blast, and left a mark in my greatest travel experiences of the year 2013.