Sunday, March 25, 2012

kabayan mummies timbak

"where do you think the mummy caves are?" our guide Vince asked while we were looking at wide vantage of the mountain range. pointed at one hill with a farm on top "no. that's the witch mountain" answered the guide smiling.
after a quick rest, we started to hike through the stone steps to a hill which at the time was covered with fog. this added the thrill of seeing one of the country's most valuable preserved bodies. 
years back, it was in the news when the mummified body of Apo Annu was stolen from this hill. this led to the building of a more secured fence and an assigned caretaker to hold the key to the gates. looking at the size of the enclosed site, i knew we were about to see a national treasure.
the mummification process here includes the preservation of the internal organs thus the long process that could take months. with all these and the rituals, it is believed that only the tribal leaders or of great ancestral lineage had the privilege to be mummified by the Ibaloi tribes.
the hill is composed of small caves that holds a number of wooden coffins of the mummies. each cave entrance has steel frame and chain lock. though taking of photos of the mummified bodies were prohibited, i, Ga-el, Emil, Darwin and Kevin had the chance to see it up close.
we had rounds in entering the mummy tombs as it was too small to hold more than two persons. we were reminded that noise is prohibited in the area as one should not forget that the entire hill remains sacred.
it was my turn and i had to squat to enter the tomb. i tried to imagine how these coffins were actually placed inside a compact and dark inlet. there were several coffins of different sizes with a flat cover. the first coffin opened composed of four tattooed bodies all in fetal position.
some bodies has exposed internal organs and i was amazed at how the bodies were preserved that way for more than five centuries or even longer. the entire site is now managed and monitored by the National Museum of the Philippines and the municipality of Kabayan. there are about 50 caves and some 28 mummies listed. this portion of Timbac holds majority of the mummies inside the caves.
trail to home stay junction

special thanks to Tine of the Jovial Wanderer for tips on who to contact.

Barangay: Timbak/Timbac
Altitude: 2715 MASL 
Municipality: Kabayan
Province: Benguet
Region: Cordillera
Island: Luzon

Distance from Manila: 295KMs
GPS Location: 
16' 39'' 3 N
120' 47'' 43 E

How to get there:
By commuting:
[1] Take any regular bus from Manila to Baguio. From Baguio there are two options to reach Timbak. First is via KM55 of Halsema Highway and second is via the town center of the municipality of Kabayan. In our case, we chose option 1.
[2] From Baguio, take a bus at Dangwa Station going to either Sagada, Bontoc or Abatan. When buying your ticket, inform them to drop you at Kilometer 55 (of the Halsema Highway). This is the jump-off point to the Timbak trail and the mummy caves. Bus trip will take about 2hours.  
[3] Trek from jump-off to home stay junction 1hr with less stops. trek down the mummy tombs is just 15-20mins from the home stay junction.
Note: KM55 is just few minutes from the stopover in Atok but not all buses stop in Atok.

By car or private vehicle:
[1] Drive to Baguio, cross La Trinidad and take the Halsema Highway. 
[2] From Halsema, turn right at KM55. This is just meters away from Atok central. There's a sign that says "Welcome to Mummy Caves of Timbac" but sign is too small to be noticed while in the highway. Best yet to ask the locals after passing by Atok or at the highest point of Halsema Highway.

eskapo recommends:
1. get a guide who can either pick you up in Baguio or meet you at KM55 of Halsema Highway. you can contact Vince Gapuz 09198524410 who was also our guide when we went there.


Traveling Hawk said...

Interesting trip to a holly site, dong ho! I like the photos in the misty forest.

darwin said...

Wow Dong, you're done with the post! I haven't started anything until now. But I will be featuring the fire mummies in my BRAIN RAIN presentation in the museum with my colleagues. :) Your post is really informative and helpful. :)


Oh wow! Kinilabutan ako. You saw it upclose and personal, that's the best part. Thanks for bringing all these stories to us (and photos), Idol. Mabuhay ka. :)

Unknown said...

always wanted to go here, but haven't got time to put it on course. Bookmarking this post in hoping to get my feet running to this place soon...

thepinaysolobackpacker said...

by far, this remains to be my favorite trip this year! :) ang saya kase naten at ang ganda nung lugar! balik ako jan pagdating ko ng Luzon.

escape said...

>Traveling hawk, thanks!

>Dar, may isa pang post yung trek to summit naman. good luck sa presentation mo ng fire mummies. mukhang daming aabangan niyang brain rain.

>Rizalenio, yes. maybe at least once in your life makita mo ang mga mummies ng kabayan.

>Marky, that'll be great. you can see it even over a weekend.

>Gael, nice. ako din gusto ko din to balikan within the year. sabihan mo kami kung andito ka na.

sheng said...

I want to try one of these trips with you, maybe a spelunking or an interesting tour somewhere would be very good. Sana lang magka-time ako.

lakwatserong tatay said...

astig, although sagrado ang lugar, nakakatakot pero gusto ko rin maexperience yun...sana next time na babalik kayo makasama ako...^_^

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

It was great meeting you, Chyng, Ferdz & Nina last week! Sa uulitin...

It's just sad how certain people could even think of stealing a mummy - is there monetary value attached? I don't even understand. This is a great tribal heritage that should be fully respected by everyone.

Chyng said...

very interesting.
you got extra lucky pa for being permitted to see the mummies. i wonder how they looked like, or smell like..

go, timbak escape organize mo naman kesa pinatubo joining trip! haha

Bino / Frameless World said...

WOW! Bodies that were preserved for more than five centuries or even longer... I'm amazed! I'm wondering kung ano yung pakiramdam while seeing and experiencing this sacred place. Sobrang mystical ng lugar Dom.. Hope to visit the place too.

escape said...

>Sheng, i recommend Sagada for spelunking if in case you're coming over. would be glad to accompany you there.

>Lakwatserong Tatay, im planning to set a schedule to return. ill let you know. the experience was different but worth it.

>Dennis, most likely a collector of mummies could be behind the stealing. that's an important fact each visitor should know. the place is sacred and these are still bodies of people that requires respect.

it was a privilege to meet you. salamat ulit.

>Chyng, viewing the mummies is not prohibited as long as you have a guide and the caretaker approved. they just refrain the people from taking photos and video without the permission of the National Museum.

>Bino, it felt a bit weird knowing that you'll really be seeing them upclose but it was worth it. indeed one of the best national treasure of the philippines.

Pietro Brosio said...

Very interesting and nice walk through the forest, beautiful images!

gillboard said...

the fog gave the place that eerie vibe. have a feeling, that being there, may taas balahibo moments. hehehe

i like it though.


Photo Cache said...

this one's a really good trip. not everyone gets to see a mummy. i don't know if i'd be able to summon the courage to take a peek. i'm too scared already.

docgelo said...

ang ginaw! sarap siguro nga mag trekking kung ganyang kaginaw.
pero uphill-downhill? hmmm...

Pinoy Adventurista said...

i was at awe when i finally saw the mummies... it's my first time... and i owe it to your timbac trek post that led me to this sacred site...

Spencer said...

Looks like a touch ascent but a really worthwhile experience!

escape said...

>Pietro, thanks!

>Gillboard, we were actually fortunate to have the fog cover a part of the area that time. i like its effect in photos.

>Photo Cache, for some yes.

>Doc Gelo, itong part na to is going downhill. pero tama ka pag ganito yung klima kahit mahabang lakad mas kakayanin.

>Merv, it was really great that you were able to visit it too. it's worth visiting. ill wait for your post.

>Spencer, indeed. i hope you get the chance to visit it too.

Makati Condo For Rent said...

Wow ang sarap naman pumunta dyan at magtakutan . hahaha

XoXo said...

This is awesome, how brave of you to view those mummies with open bodies and exposed organs! wow!

Robbie said...

Sayang lang bawal mag-take ng pics. Kaya pala hindi kayo nag-uupload. Hahaha.

But I guess it's good din since it will encourage people to visit the place themselves. :D

Kelangan ko to mapuntahan!

Wandering Caloy said...

I hope this sacred site in Benguet will always be protected. Thank you for sharing this experience. God bless!


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