It was the holiday season long-break and a couple of my friends (RoadworthyMan and Hapipaks) wanted to visit Fang-Od, the famed mambabatok in Buscalan Kalinga and have themselves inked. It was kind of unexpected that transportation options quickly ran out even a few days ahead before the trip. I guess gone are the days where I can easily go to Baguio, Banaue or Sagada on a whim during this season as this time, people should book way ahead. I volunteered to help and give them another option to Buscalan, not only to accompany them but partly to join them as well as I wanted to revisit Kalinga again for the holidays. What ensued was a trip of misadventures on our way to Riverside Inn, Luplupa, Kalinga.
With Banaue, Tabuk and Bontoc entry points out of the question, we had to go with Baguio having more service buses departing hourly. We got lucky and found a few slots that leaves in the evening just in time for the first bus trip to Bontoc from D’Rising Sun. The bus left promptly but our supposedly 6-hour travel got haywired when the bus broke down due to overheating just after the town of Abatan. It got fixed after a few minutes but got seriously broken when oil started leaking from the bus just before the Sabangan area. This led us to wait for another transpo. Fate was kind when a GL Lizardo Bus that let at 7am from Baguio for Bontoc came. Even if we were sitting on the aisle, we were glad we’ll make it just in time for the last jeepney trip to Tinglayan, Kalinga.
It seems there’s an unspoken rule when riding jeepneys in the Cordillera area. Aside from riding with stocks of goods (and even live stocks), women and children, the elderly and disabled tend to occupy the seats inside the jeep, men and boys usually go top-load. This was no exemption for us, I had to stay on the top for more than 2 hours on the road from Bontoc to Tinglayan. I didn’t mind as I got the best views on the ride, I just had to hold tight to keep myself from falling.
We were exhausted from being on the road for almost 20 hours that the first thing we wanted to do was to put down our bags and lay on our beds to rest. But we had to hold our thought for a while as our accommodation, the Riverside Inn is in the heart of the village of Luplupa and we had to cross a long hanging bridge over the Chico River and zigzag our way to the old narrow streets of the village. Johnny, the caretaker of the inn warmly greeted us and gave us a few rounds of the local Kalinga Coffee. I thought the place would be noisy being inside the village but it was quite pleasant and quiet.
I was surprised on how well-kept this inn was being one of the first few lodgings in the area. We leave our footwear by the doorway to keep things in the building tidy. The rooms were large and I especially liked the multiple shelves. The common bathroom is spacious and clean. Meals can be arranged and served on appointed time. Everything is quiet at night. There’s free-flowing drinking water. Much like the village of Buscalan, there is little to do in town really. Households kept to themselves by night-time, even the small sari-sari stores close early. We had to knock on some doors past 7pm to satisfy our chips craving.
Despite the initial reaction of Riverside Inn being too far from the road, all those seems trivial weighing-in how well-kept the place is, how kind and hospitable the staff were. Free water and coffee at times. The meals were decent and healthy. Johnny can also recommend reliable guides for hikes to Buscalan if the famous Victor Baculi is not around.
Old Luplupa, Tinglayan, Kalinga
Contact: +63915.283.7885, +639177501204
Room Rates: Php 250/ head
Meals: Php 100/ head (meals are dependent on the ingredients available)
For getting to and fro Tinglayan, check out my guide Roads to Tinglayan.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.