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Mountain Hopping in Benguet
by Louis Likigan

From mountains, caves, waterfalls, vegetable gardens, and historic attractions, Benguet – the rose of the northern mountains and the Salad Bowl of the Philippines – offers unforgettable experiential tourism to local and foreign visitors.

If there is island hopping in other pla-ces, then mountain hopping would be very much applicable in Benguet. Take for instance in Bakun, which has three mountains called Bakun Trio, wherein one would have to trek Mt. Kabunian, Mt. Tenglawan, and Mt. Lobo. Most tourists prefer this since it offers the experience of passing through old Spanish trails, challenging terrain, the hospitality of the people, and the great feeling of conquering these three enormous mountains in just one trip.

It is a must for every visitor to experience hiking in these mountains as it keeps you away from woes and worries. But if you think you cannot climb the trio, it is alright for a novice climber to ascend at least one of the three. These mountains are valued by the community since it is a blessing from God for the people of Bakun, which could be experienced by any individual visiting the place.

Being on top of these mountains makes you want to keep on coming back for another adventure, especially when a guide would greet you and say, “Pasensya po at siling ang tagalong ko.” 

If you want a close encounter with nature, Mt. Mangisi, popularly known as Mt. Purgatory in Bokod town offers an unforgettable mossy forest adventure. Visit to this place involves trailing the densest forest in terms of its flora. Walking through the forest trails gives you euphoria. It refreshes your soul and spirit as you pass through the forest floor that gives you an “Avatar” feeling.

Before reaching Mt. Purgatory you would pass through Mt. Pack, and when you enter through Barangay Ekip, you would pass through Mt. Komkompol, Mt. Tangbaw, and Mt. Bakian. Passing through these mountains would be a great accomplishment since you’ve been through at least three to four mountains in one climb.

Opposite Mt. Purgatory is Mt. Awa. Awa, in the vernacular means to catch birds. Located in Pito, Bokod, it is a potential tourist destination which offers various terrains such as mossy forest, pine forest trails, and grass trail that would lead you to Pito towards one of the remote town of Kayapa where you are treated to a breathtaking scenery of various lakes.

Extreme mountain climbing could also be experienced in Barangay Tacadang, Kibungan. Climbing and hiking these majestic rocky mountains such as Mt. Oten, Mt. Kilkili, and Mt. Tagpaya make you wonder if you are in a place outside the Philippines. Looking at the place around you gives you an unending awe, leaves you mesmerized, delighted, and accomplished, especially after reaching the peak. This place is a pro-mising site for respite and retreat, despite the three-hour travel by public transport and a minimum of five hours hiking. There are six major routes you can choose before reaching your destination. The most common route is through Barangay Poblacion, Kibungan passing through the municipality of Kapangan where you can see the famous Santa Claus Mountain, called as such since it resembles the face of Santa Claus. One can also travel through Beyyeng passing from Bakun. If you choose this route, you will pass through the mossy forest within the Bakun and Kibungan boundaries.

When you reach Tacadang you would be treated to a cinematic view of the place.

Coffee served by the host has superb and unique taste. After enjoying your coffee, you would be treated to  group  stories among the young and old while having a sip of their local rice wine, tapuey or sugar cane wine, basi. These drinks, according to the locals, serve as their energy drink which really worked for me when I tried it. You just can’t help but schedule another trip to the place.

The most popular among the mountains of Benguet is Mt. Pulag, which is featured in almost every post or picture on the Internet.

This mountain became popular because of the unique experience of climbing the third highest mountain in the Philippines. The magnificent clouds, the beautiful rolling peaks, and the coldness of the night make Mt. Pulag so mystifying and comely. Nowadays, the carrying capacity of Peak 1 would warrant 77 individuals to enjoy the sight. In order to preserve the natural beauty of the peak, the rest of the climbers would be distributed to peaks two and three.

It is also in Mt. Pulag where you can experience extreme cold weather during the first and last quarters of the year. Wearing thick clothing at this time of the year is a must.

Benguet mountains are also enjoyed by sports enthusiasts, especially those who are actively involved with mountain marathons. Some of these races cater to international participants like the famous Mt. Ugo climb in Tinongdan, Itogon – home of the Philippine Skyrunning competition or “Akyathlon,” a 32-kilometer uphill and downhill run and walk.

This year, a runner from Bukidnon won first place, breaking the two-year record of foreign winners.

Also in Itogon is Mt. Ulap in Ampucao, a potential tourist attraction, which targets first-time climbers, trekkers, and even runners. This site has been part of the TNF 100 from 2012 to 2014. It is a sloping mountain recommended for beginners and for the young and old.

More individuals are becoming interested in mountain sports such as mountain marathon, downhill biking, and mountain climbing. Others just want to gain the benefits of the outdoors. Researchers of the Wilderness Society found that spending time outdoors increases attention span and creative problem solving skills by as much as 50 percent, thus, most of these mountain sports are being introduced in most of the municipalities.

The Mankayan Mountain Marathon will be staged in June in at least three barangays in Mankayan, braving through high hanging bridges of Kamanpaguey and steep mountain side trails of Las-igan. It would be the first mountain marathon for Mankayan.

Aside from mountains, Benguet offers cave adventures. Most of these caves are located in the municipalities of Tublay and Tuba.

The Paterno, Ambongdolan, and Ovek caves in Tublay are visited by tourists who would like to travel short distance, especially within the Baguio and La Trinidad areas. Watch out for the activity dubbed “Dalawang araw na walang araw” for cave lovers next month. These caves could be explored for a single day especially that the departments of Tourism and Public Works convergence road is already open, which shortens travel time.

The Aran, Obbong Obong, Simimba-an, Cayebyeb,  and Tacadang caves in Tuba are uniquely beautiful. Cool waters running through your feet while enjoying rock formations inside will leave you in awe. These caves are not yet open to the public since improvements and preparation are being undertaken for the benefit of the visitors and communities. These caves would serve as alternative to those located outside the province.

We hope we could to enjoy these God-given wonders before this year ends. These caves in Tuba have wonderful stories, take for instance the Aran Cave in Camp 3, which was named after a giant.

The Halsema Highway is also a tourist attraction. The vegetable terraces of Atok and Buguias are a sight to behold, especially when the vegetables are ready to harvest.

Benguet mountains are not only attractions but also a source of living for majority of the people – mining under these mountains and farming on the surface.

Mountains are the home of beautiful caves, waterfalls, and forests that is why they are very important not only for the tribes of this province but also to the people visiting it. You are invited to experience the Benguet mountains. Enjoy the climb.

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Informatics Institute
Medline International Training Institute Baguio
University of the Cordilleras
University of the Philippines – Baguio

Benguet Corporation
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Cordillera Career Development College
Department of Health – CAR
Fox International Immgiration & VISA Provider
Golden Pine Hotel
King’s College of the Philippines
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Pines City Colleges
Social Security System
Veterans Bank

Ahead Tutorial and Review
Assumption Medical Diagnostic Center
Baguio Memorial Chapels Inc.
Baguio Multicultural Institute
Baguio Water District
Ballet Baguio
Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Benguet State University
BSBT College, Inc.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – CAR
Bureau of Internal Revenue – CAR
Congressman Maximo B. Dalog, Sr.
Cordillera Kidney Specialists, Inc.
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Environment and National Resources
Department of Trade and Industry – CAR
Dreamforce Review and Training Center
Easter College Aviation Department
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commercial
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
Governor Nestor B. Fongwan
Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board – Northern Luzon Region
Immigration Network Services
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company
Mayor Edna Tabanda
MMS Development Training Center
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Nagomi Spa
Narda’s Handwoven Arts & Crafts
Philex Mining Corporation
Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office – Cordillera
Pugad: Pugo Adventure
Regional Development Council – CAR
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet
STI College Baguio


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