Looking out of the veranda from Suzzette’s Homestay in Maligcong, I have long wondered how the view is like from the mountains seen on the horizon. The peaks of Mt Matuon and its trails tease, along with otherworldly tales that its forest entraps people with its enchantment unexpectedly. As interesting as the local superstition seems, outsiders like me sees it as a place of conquest. Another trail to explore. I do respect local customs though so I waited for the chance. I was glad when Suzzette said we could explore the mountains with a local guide from Favarey on our recent trip to Maligcong. So in good company with Suzzette, Lagalog and three dogs (Kunig, Misty and Tiny) we ventured one morning to explore Mt Matuon.
Mt Matuon from Favarey
Mt Matuon is the mountain directly opposite Makonig village, where the homestay is located. So we had to do a little hike past Fangarao to Favarey where we’ll meet with our guide Mang Ruben. In the months where typhoons occasionally visit the country, morning was the ideal time to explore when the chances good weather is high, especially in the boondocks. The hike was pleasant, cool air with the comfortable warmth of the morning sun. we were handful with two extra dogs coming with us aside from Kunig: the highly spirited white female dog, Misty and the young and limber Tiny (who isn’t by any means tiny for his young age). Because of Kunig, other dogs seem to follow his lead of joining hikes with visitors.
We reached Favarey and met up with Mang Ruben who is familiar with the mountains near their village. Our starting point was the trail to the rice terraces behind the Favarey church. It’s amazing to see how verdant this side of Maligcong Terraces are. Maligcong have a wide and overlapping season for planting and harvesting. Mang Ruben, who’s widely knowledgable in the fields pointed the different kind of rice in the area like the hairy Isokan from Alab, the red rice Chomanling, the white rice Famsan and the heirloom rice Korsimay.
Crossing the bridge over the stream, we climbed the cemented stairs and trails (thanks to the registration fees) to the spot they call fib-iling. From here I stayed for a while taking my time to marvel at the wonderful panorama of Favarey village amidst the terraces. We continued our walk and stopped for a bit as Mang Ruben pointed at the mountain peak we were aiming for. How long will it take to get there? We’ll have to find out ourselves. Soon, the cemented part of the trail ended and the dirt trail begins.
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.