June 1, 2023

WHEN THE TRAILS – or ‘foot trails’, were being converted, ‘destroyed’ – to be made later, later as vehicle roads, I was not yet of school age that time but – now, I vividly remember some. Let me describe only those I walked through myself.
[MY USE HERE of the English word ‘great’ is an honest, best near-translation for the Nabaloi phrase: abadeg ga shalan ni to-o (Literal: a big/main/mostly-used/etc. pathways of people”) – on foot; or, by horseback – the ‘standard class’ means of travel in those times].
THE APALAN VIA Agnay, Debköw Dongbaan great trail. I walked through this – partly at age three or four years old; partly because at some points of the way, my mother – and/or my Aunt Jovit (GRts, God Rest their souls) would carry me at–the back – each time they see my face ‘about to cry’.
IT SEEMS TO me now, we came from a ‘decent-luxury visit to Baguio’, nan Bagiw kami, that time. From where the Baguio vehicle we rode stopped – was it at Beckel (?), we walked down to Tocmo, Subkel, then to Anteg-in, Marooc, Camesong and finally, Apalan. It rained so hard there, and we took shelter in one of the cattle-houses of old man Dampaso. That was the first time I saw the danti or ice hails – yes, at Apalan.
FROM APALAN, WE hiked down that long (mountain) trail – until Agnay (now, the busy sitio of Bonecöw); then, to Debköw Dongbaan (now, no longer visible; it went underwater in 1960, but could be viewed top-view wise today as the Binga Reservoir).
FROM DEBKÖW DONGBAAN (n.b. other writers use the Spanish-influenced Debcow or Lebcow spelling), we waded through the Debköw Badiwan (River way/trail, of-sort); then, finalément: home sweet home at Shacshac or Debköw Kawajan! My late father was still living that time but was mostly at home with a lingering ailment. Today, that great trail, we walked on, is now a touching-some-points part of the (Lower) Ambuklao Road as well as the Guisset-Binga Road. Next to the Southeastern side, of Itogon:
THE ‘BARRIO’ – CENTRAL great trail. In post-WWII Itogon and before, the focal point of reference – and activity, was ‘Itogon Central’ (or just ‘Central’) and all the rest were referred to in general as: Barrio(s) – mostly under the stewardships of Tenientes del barrio (or “Barrio Lieutenants”).
THE LONGEST AND ‘greatest’ trail that time starts from ‘Central’ Itogon to San Nicolas, Pangasinan – with stopovers for horse feed and drink in Colabeng (now Mambolo West), Begueng (part of today’s Brgy. Tinongdan), then Dalupirip. Rest there briefly or otherwise, then resume: through Ayosep, Balococ, Cashet, Tegwang, Lawigen, then Lomboy; you rest again, then resume? to Bengal, and finally to: San Nicolas, Pangasinan.
[IN OUR YOUNGER year sojourns, my peers and I usually reached nearer Balococ, or farther Lomboy (my farthest), or Uling to the East. I have relatives in Bengal but I never had a chance to proceed that far].
TODAY, THAT ONCE long trail is known as [part of – from Twinriver, Poblacion] the: Baguio–San Nicolas Highway, though at present, motor vehicles could only reach Cashet.
THE ‘ROAD-OPENING’ thereat onwards has been delayed for some time, due to technical reasons or so. But
PRESENTLY, SAID ROAD opening is again on-going: they’ve advanced point-start from Lawigen towards the current road-end at Cashet.
IT SEEMS HOWEVER, the folks thereat and nearby are not bothered by – nor in-a-hurry about, the delay(s). Travel there has been but normal, regular, and peaceful, ever, ever since.
IF YOU START from Dalupirip by horseback these days, you’ll arrive at San Nicolas, Pangasinan – after three hours – more or less.
THE USED-TO-BE great forest trail – which is now a vehicle road-part of the Baguio-San Nicolas National Highway is now: that stretch beginning from a bit below the Twinriver Junction (Bangen), up to San Nicolas.
THIS TIME, IF you sit by Manang Pacing’s store (still there) at said Junction, you’ll see but motor vehicles – of all models, passing by – no horsemen nor horses.
FIFTY YEARS AGO, or more, that arrival stretch of the great trail was a perilous one: some careless young horsemen would gallop suddenly from the Apeshai Junction – or near it, towards the Arrival point – at Bangen, and
SOMETIMES YOU WOULD chance upon a young man looking low, and standing beside his sweating horse being scolded by a concerned Elder: Nganto mah no wara y shineppos mo? (Transl: “what if someone was run-over?”).
AS CHILDREN, WE were trained to listen to sounds of passing horses’ hooves, as well as respond to the warning calls of: Kihgwang, Kihgwang! (“Make way, make way!”) when passing by that zone. Ayo! Ayo! Ino!