Maligcong has become one of my favorite destinations in the Mountain Province in the recent years. I’ve cited five reasons on a previous post why one should go to Maligcong. Lately, I did notice that there’s already an influx of tourist discovering its quiet charm and natural wonder. Most of them were doing the short climb at Mt Kupapey to see the breathtaking landscape and the rice terraces at the slope of the mountains from the summit. Mt Kupapey is just one of the interesting places in Maligcong. My recent visits there were to do some exploration treks and hike, particularly the far flung village of Favarey and its surrounding area. This village amidst the vast field of rice terraces is called the “Old Town” by the locals as this is the original settlement of Maligcong.
The Trail to Favarey
A lot of weekend warriors spend only a night in Maligcong and are not able to venture further to Favarey. And to those who are intrepid enough to take the 1.7km cemented trail along the scenic rice paddies to the village will discover what the old village is like, insights into their culture and a closer view of the much preserved rice terraces.
Favarey feels a lot like Buscalan Village in Kalinga. A lot of the old wooden houses with cogon roofs are gone and replaced by concrete walls and galvanized roofs but the practice of burying their dead within the vicinity of their houses are apparent here. It made me more cautious of where I’m stepping on while walking hoping I won’t disrespect any departed souls. On some houses, the shak-khod (carabao horns) are displayed. The number of horns indicate the number of weddings celebrated by the family or clan.
I met a lot of locals there smiling and somewhat surprised with our unexpected visit. It’s not everyday they get to see outsiders in their village. A lot of the elders could not speak tagalog nor English. There was one lady elder with a beautiful snake-spine headband and native tattoos on her arms that I wanted to take a portrait of but she was to shy saying she looked ugly. I deferred taking photo out of respect but if only I could her them how naturally beautiful she looked.
Maligcong has many similarities in beliefs with its neighboring municipalities in the Mountain Province. At the topmost hill of Favarey, past the rice ganaries is their sacred trees and ground called papattay. This highest point in the village overlooking the terraces is where they traditionally hold their rituals like the T-er which is done pre and post rice harvest. In three days, people are not allowed to venture the fields. Within the village is also an ator, similar to a dap-ay, is a circular area with stone seats and fireplace at the center where elders meet. People of Maligcong still hold on to their old traditions until now but admittedly made some short-cuts for the modern times for practicality. Like the duration of how long a corpse is displayed on a chair has been shortened.
Favarey have also embraced Christianity. The Baptist Church at the other side of the village is a prominent structure overlooking the rice terraces and the nearby mountains. A waterfall can also be seen at this vantage point which we were told is the source of water for Maligcong. People are not allowed to go there to avoid water contamination. And I must attest that water in Favarey is one of the best tasting water I’ve drank. This mountain water flows freely from an open tap at the center of the village. I made sure to fill my water bottle before heading back to Makunig. Taking it with me like the memory of my visit on this old settlement.
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.