61st Courier Anniversary Issue
Beautiful Baguio: Relax, enjoy, and have fun
Being a minority across time
Exotic and mystical Abra
Home of the Isnag Tribe
Benguet has it all
Ifugao, home to bountiful heritage
The Pride of Kalinga
The land called Mountain Province
Benguet farmers'
woes over vegetable prices
Festivals for peace and progress
in Mountain Province
Kalinga: A roadmap to progress
A Napulawan experience
Displaced binga folks:
Pesky footnote in Napoco's legacy?
A peek into Cordillera’s last nature frontier
A taste of Abra
Atty. Federico Muñoz Mandapat Sr.:
A story of a war and sports hero
61st Anniversary Cartoon
Exotic and mystical Abra
by: Precious Ann Parel

Look into a published list of the alphabetized Philippine provinces and its name will lead the pack.

Exotic, welcoming, fascinating… these three words are synonymous to our province’s name. Located in the cusp of the towering mountain ranges of the Ilocos provinces on the west and the mighty Cordillera Mountain Range in the East, Abra occupies the western part of the Cordilleras.

Abra comes from the Spanish word abrir meaning “to open” — the opening referring to the “twin peaks” through which the Abra River, the province’s main artery, flows out from the valley into the sea. As it straddles the Ilocandia and the Cordillera, this beautiful province shows the merging of the lowland people of Spanish ancestry and the ethnic upland Tingguian tribe.

The tunnel is the mark
Instead of an arc that adorns the entrance to a place, like in most cities and provinces, a 20-foot tunnel will welcome you as you enter Abra.

The Tangadan Tunnel, regionally known as “Usokan” is a firm structure drilled against a hill of rock on the Abra-Ilocos Sur border. But it’s more than just a welcome tunnel, it is also a symbol of the Abreño’s sturdy defiance against the odds.

Measuring 3,975 square kilometers wide, which is 1.3 percent of the total land of the country, Abra possesses the most number of municipalities in the region. Bangued is its capital town, the other 26 municipalities are Baay-Licuan, Boliney, Bucay, Bucloc, Daguioman, Danglas, Dolores, La Paz, Lacub, Lagangilang, Lagayan, Langiden, Luba, Malibcong, Manabo, Peñarrubia, Pidigan, Pilar, Sallapadan, San Isidro, San Juan, San Quintin, Tayum, Tineg, Tubo, and Villaviciosa.

Two cultures, the Tinggunian and Iloco, run in the blood of the Abreños.

Amidst the cultural differences, there is never a sense of intimidation between them. The people practice their unique culture which continues to amaze everyone. The females still dress up in clothes made of pretty piningitan and abel, which are handwoven cloths.

Tingguians dance many versions of the tadek in every occasion, and
people, young and old alike, know how to belt out an Ilocano kundiman or two. A trademark of the Abreños is their unique way of celebrating the Lenten Season. Every main street has an abong-abong (bamboo shed) put up, where Lenten activities are held, like the singing of the lectio (passion), and processions are made more special.

Scrumptious treats
They say that the way to a person’s heart is through his tummy. No wonder Abra food is loved by many. Its cuisine takes full advantage of its gift-giving rivers, with roasted or barbecued white-fleshed fish and scrumptious eels served fresh or dried. There is also our special chicharon (pork cracklings); juicy longganisa (sausages) that are in demand by our foreigner friends; pinakbet (a rich vegetable dish); fern salads; pure wild honey; malagkit and ballatinaw (black rice); native pastries and cakes such as patupat, sapin-sapin, and cascaron;occasional ants’ eggs (abuos); and edible beetles (abal-abal). Abra mangoes, ripe and golden, are known to be one of the best kinds in the country.
Abra also takes pride to be home to attractive, exquisitely crafted, and high-quality bamboo products.

Places to visit
We have a list of places worth seeing and visiting once you set foot in the pro-vince:
· Aside from the welcome tunnel, Tangadan now has the Gabriela Silang Memorial Park.

· The Abra River is the most popular among all the rivers crisscrossing the province. It is best viewed from Sulbec, Pidigan.

· Atop Casamata Hill is Victoria Park where you can see the whole town of Bangued.

· Don Mariano Marcos Bridge, connecting Lagangilang and Tayum, is one of the longest in the country.

· Old churches in Tayum, Bangued, and Pidigan were preserved and are still standing until now.

· Kimkimay Lake is one of the two lakes in the province, ideal for picnics.

· In the hollow of a huge balete tree in Peñarrubia are sacred stones called pinpinaing which symbolize the anito (souls) of their ancestors.

· “Sleeping Beauty” in the west bank of the Abra River is a range of mountains that look like a maiden lying on her back.

· Casa Real in Bucay is the former provincial government seat.

· The Gabriela Silang Monument in Pidigan stands proudly until now, in honor of our great heroine.

· The Libtec Underground River in Dolores is an enchanting river housed in the Libtec Caves.

· Our Sagsagacat Spring in Peñarrubia is a great spot to take a dip in.

· Borikibok Resorts in Bucay makes for a cozy, cool, and shady ground for picnickers and even has a heart-shaped pool.

The best time to visit Abra is between February and May. At this time, there are many celebrations sche-duled. The Bangued Town Fiesta is in February, the Abrenian Festival is in March, and it is also nice to visit the pro-vince during Holy Week.

These are just some of the many delights Abra has in store for every visitor it awaits.

Enchanting… alluring… mystical… truly a gem of the North. This is Abra.

The author graduated valedictorian from the Abra High School (AHS) Special Science Class in Bangued. She was editor-in-chief of the AHS paper, The Herald. She has participated in provincial, regional, and national press conferences since her sophomore year. Her fortes are feature writing (English) and radio broadcasting. She was an Outstanding Journalist of the Year for two consecutive years, and was given an award for campus journalism during an Abrenian Festival ce-lebration. She is an incoming Nursing student of St. Louis University.
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