SideTrip: Bontoc, the Mountain Province connection

The town of Bontoc

I’ve finanlly got a chance to drop by and explore this little town called Bontoc. Most of the time, it’s just one of those areas you only pass by either going to Sagada or Banaue. But it would seem that Bontoc is also an ideal point to jump off any trip going to the different parts of Mountain Province. If you are coming from Manila, you can ride on the new Cable Bus located in Trinity College and they head straight to Bontoc. From there,many jeeps plying to different directions like Banaue, Sagada and Besao can be found. Since Bontoc is in the middle, travel time is reduced.

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Sagada revisited final: Still a Shangri-la

Pine Forest

Three nights have passed and just when it has begun, we realize we are about to leave. You’ll never get dull in this place as there are more to do and discover. I could have stayed longer but work beckons. I would gladly like to walk more on the pine forest and feel the cool fresh breeze. Or just lie down on the grass by the church and read a good book. Watch the glorious sunrise on a cool windy morning at Kiltepan or the scenic sunset while having a picnic at Lake Danom (Lake Bana-ao to those who live in Besao). Or further more discover more hidden secrets Sagada holds. We were conversing with some elders at a store and found that beneath Sagada there are more cave systems waiting to be explored.

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Sagada Revisited 02: For your eyes only

Sagada Dap-ay

People of Sagada still practices their old traditions and rituals. A walk through their native village of Demang, you’ll sure to pass by a number of Dap-Ay’s. Dap-ay, also called Ato by different tribes is a low-roofed, windowless structure with a small door. In front is a circular structure where improvised stone stools surround the edges and a hearth at the center where they burn fire. This is a sacred place for them as this is where the council of elders makes major decisions regarding socio-political issues, religious rites, settle disputes and where young boys are passed the lessons about disciplines, customs, traditions and taboos.

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Sagada revisited 01: A new cave and a fall

Sagada Echo Valley

I never get tired of this place. It’s my third time coming here and there always seems to be something new to discover. This time, aside from visiting the sites I missed before, I got a little brush with their culture and appreciated more of our history, probably because I have a couple of companions who are into Philippine Heritage Conservation. This trip made me realize the importance of our past and connections of various events in different parts of the our archipelago. I may blame it to our schools as not being as interesting in teaching history as you experience in a place.

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A festival of lights

Sagada's Festival of Lights

No, this is not a scene from “Constantine” movie’s hell dimension. This is what the people of Sagada calls the “Festival of lights“. It’s so refreshing to see a different cultural practice being observed up here in the Cordilleras. A fellow traveler akin the practice to those of Mexico’s. So why is it like this? Not candles?

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