Tuesday, May 31, 2011

hachan no ad pagtan

there were two German nationals who passed by and an Australian who introduced himself to us when we checked in at Riverside Inn, Lonely Planet's recommendation for a stay in Luplupa in the municipality of Tinglayan. after few hours two Norwegian backpackers arrived at the inn from a trek with their guide.
this was something i did not expect because in the first place who would have thought foreigners to reach this far and make this quiet village their temporary abode. there must be something here.among the first foreigner to embrace this side of Kalinga is the German national Otmar Holz, who first reached the village of Luplupa in the 90s. he was in Sagada when a German teacher recommended him to explore the town of Tinglayan. on his first visit, he can hardly speak English. he stayed at the house of the village chieftain, who goes by the name Chupper.
he was attracted to the culture and decided to go to Australia to learn English and returned with the hope that he will be able to interact with the locals more. from then, he returned from time to time until he decided to establish Luplupa Riverside Inn to accommodate other tourists who started to discover the place.
he soon married Belle, a local of Tinglayan and started supporting the locals through scholarships which he gathered in Germany. until now he continues to extend help through donations of sacks of rice and sometimes even finances. all this he got out of the strong friendship with the former chieftain and the love for the people of Kalinga.
Chupper on the other hand served as the village chieftain for 29years and now serves as a highly recommended and experienced guide to treks around Tinglayan. his real name is Victor Bucali but is more popular to the locals as Chupper. a nickname given to him by his parents which came from the typhoon Chupali which destroyed almost the entire crops of the village in 1947. the year Victor was born.
the night before our last day in Tinglayan, we all gathered at the inn's corridor sharing stories of the village and the people. Chupper, now on his 60s had the chance to go to Germany through Otmar's desire for him to visit his country. but as many who would expect him to be old and boring, Chupper has almost unending stories of his experience and more often shared with humor.
at some part of our conversation, i requested him if he can give me a local name as a way to remember the bond that we've had. Chupper himself wrote on my travel journal "hachan no ad Pagtan eng nga chan Chupper" which meant "your name is Pagtan given by Chupper". it was an honor.
we ended the night discovering that the two Norwegians were students on a tour in Singapore who decided to grab the chance to visit the Philippines during their vacation period. like Otmar, they accidentally discovered Tinglayan while in Sagada. the Australian national was a writer of a local paper in Sidney who were writing about the Ponchon or the Bodong peace pact that ended the tribal wars in Kalinga.whenever one mentions Kalinga, one of the first thing that would come into their mind would be head hunters. but contrary to this, the locals here are very friendly. in fact, i was offered coffee many times including ate Josie. the coffee here is famous and is known as Kalinga barako coffee. one of the best coffee that i've tasted. the next day, we were off to our main objective which was to find the few remaining locals who has traditional Kalinga tattoo patterns on their body. we found out that in Luplupa, there are still four who were already on their late 60s who has it.
with a village of just about hundred houses, it was not difficult to find them. in fact two of the elderly women were just few steps away from the inn. first to meet was Chang-ag who was at first hesitant in showing her tattoos. in the olden times, women with these tattoos would signify beauty while men with tattoos would signify as warriors.common area of the tattoo were the shoulders, the arms, the neck and the forehead. intricately made with the use of natural ink and a special needle. there's one remaining known tattoo artist in Kalinga elderly women. the second woman we met was Gumpayaw, who was a close friend of Chang-ag. it took us to talk to a relative for us to ask permission to take photos of her tattoos.
this tradition failed to be passed on to the new generation. the younger ones would see it as odd and the idea of the pain, one gets out of it, hinders them from inheriting this tradition. this meant, the very few remaining could be the last ones to see. i hope not.

how to get there:
via Banaue-Bontoc:
take the bus (Florida Bus, Ohayami, or Autobus) from Manila to Banaue. regular trips to Banaue usually are between 9:00pm - 11:00pm for a nine-hour road trip.
from Banaue, take a jeep or van to Bontoc (about 2hours). regular trips are usually the whole morning till early afternoon.
from Bontoc, look for the jeep or bus that leaves Bontoc usually just once a day. jeepney travel time is 4hours.
via Tabuk:
take a bus (Victory) from Manila to Tabuk. regular trips to Tabuk are available everyday. mostly around 9:00pm - 11:00pm for a 13-hour roadtrip.
from Tabuk, a jeepney that has an irregular schedule to Tinglayan. usually trips are in the morning. you can also take bus trips to Bontoc which will pass by Tinglayan. road trip will take about 3hours (with 2hours paved highway and about an hour of roads under development).

escape factor:
accessibility: 2.5
isolation: 4.5
rural village: 4.0
immersion experience: 4.5
overall: 4.0

Saturday, May 28, 2011

luplupa tinglayan

"yuka... yuka... yukishhh..." uttering these words to get the attention of the black-skinned pigs while i was on top of a 3-feet-high house fence in the small village of Luplupa in Kalinga. this was how the locals gather their pigs which were freely roaming around the village.it was unusual to see swines out of fences living along with dogs and chickens. there were dozens including piglets each resembling to one another. i wonder how the residents determine which ones they own. simple. like dogs, the pigs knew where to go home and recognizes their master's call.the entire village is composed of just about a hundred and twenty houses and is located across the Chico river opposite the highway. thus, one needs to cross the long hanging bridge to get to the village.
though Poblacion already holds Tinglayan's town church, the church in Luplupa is the town's old church. settled behind the village in an elevated open area in between century old Acacia trees. as a tradition, the largest tree in the village has a ribbon tied to signify as the heritage tree. the village's main gathering area has a stage with a local phrase written on it "mataku ta-u losan" which meant "we will all live". which also reflects the locals take on positivity and living a good and simple life.to reach the main village area, one has to walk more steps up. immediately i noticed that there were several water faucets within the village with water freely flowing. clean water was abundant that they just leave the faucets open and everyone can freely get water for daily use and even drink from it.if there was something which we didn't notice, it was those graves just along the cemented walkway. at some instance, one can actually step over it. but as we stayed there on the third day, we became more familiar to the village.
it was just in 2005 when the village was connected with electricity. but despite the village rusticity and isolation, several houses has satellite dish. disconnected from the web world but is in tune with the world's happenings through the television. with this, i expect the village to evolve in years time but with the hope that they will still embrace the culture.
how to get there:
via Banaue-Bontoc:
take the bus (Florida Bus, Ohayami, or Autobus) from Manila to Banaue. regular trips to Banaue usually are between 9:00pm - 11:00pm for a nine-hour road trip.
from Banaue, take a jeep or van to Bontoc (about 2hours). regular trips are usually the whole morning till early afternoon.
from Bontoc, look for the jeep or bus that leaves Bontoc usually just once a day. jeepney travel time is 4hours.
via Tabuk:
take a bus (Victory) from Manila to Tabuk. regular trips to Tabuk are available everyday. mostly around 9:00pm - 11:00pm for a 13-hour roadtrip.
from Tabuk, a jeepney that has an irregular schedule to Tinglayan. usually trips are in the morning. you can also take bus trips to Bontoc which will pass by Tinglayan. road trip will take about 3hours (with 2hours paved highway and about an hour of roads under development).

escape factor:
accessibility: 2.5
isolation: 4.5
rural village: 4.0
immersion experience: 4.5
overall: 4.0

Monday, May 16, 2011

escape calaguas

it was a busy week for me but everything complemented as it ended with our trip in Calaguas. along with twenty six who made the trip extra fun. Gerard, Jarvik, Cris, Joanne, Gia, Aeron, Paolo, Divine, Lea, Che, Jaspher, Rize, Dang, Angel, Mel, Carlo, Tina, little Gab, Majane, Josh, Steven, Olive, Rose, Theo, Toto, Jen and Kevz. i would also like to extend my gratitude to Integra Alabang for inviting me to give the talk on Travel last Wednesday. Kalinga post series to resume this week.

Friday, May 6, 2011

to old tinglayan and the chico river

when we reached Poblacion of Tinglayan, two backpackers approached us and asked "do you know if there's something nice to see in this town?". they did not seem to be lost but like us, we were there just to be there. "not really sure. we just wanted to see the last few remaining women with native Filipino tatoos" i replied.they thought for a moment "okay. maybe we'll just have to check out the next town" and they left. from Poblacion, the view of the town actually seemed like there was really not much to see. we crossed the long foot bridge that led us to Luplupa village to find the place recommended in the Lonely Planet guide.the next day, woke up and decided to start trekking to the village next to Luplupa. we just followed the paved road which led us to an arc that says "Welcome to Old Tinglayan" that led to more steps up with terraced paddies on both sides.as we continued to ascend, the view was relaxing. we were actually walking along side Kalinga's beautiful mountain range while on the other side of the river was a view of Poblacion. we reached the village of Old Tinglayan greeting people along the way. most houses has raised floors as they place their crop tools and woods below it. we just passed by the village and continued our way. this time crossing more paddies but we had two options, to continue to cross paddies or to go down the Chico river and follow it along side.
we decided to take the latter which led us down to a beautiful serene view of the river. just across the river was Tinglayan's big church. view was fantastic with fogs over mountains on our side.
rocks were gigantic and the river almost serene. not as how it would be during the rainy days where this very site is actually the jump off to the famous Chico River white water rafting. the rocks were stepping were actually the rocks that formed the rapids.we ended our trek there and felt like trekking has always been one of the best activity in this town. it is only when you decide to explore, then can you find things as beautiful as this.

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