December 2, 2022

My wanderlust is kicking in. It has been more than a year since I last took a trip out of Baguio City.
My friends and I have been joking about the next trip out. With the impending general community quarantine status in the Cordillera, we wonder when we will get a chance to flyin a plane again or even just go on a road trip somewhere. I have many memories of Kalinga, here are some to pretend I am travelling again.
On one of the trips to Kalinga, we chanced upon the remains of the 709,000 years old rhinoceros in the municipality of Rizal. Older than China, it was a thrill to see bits and pieces of the rhino that has yet to be fully excavated from this little town.
Privileged to go to the site that opens once a year upon the graces of the French government, through Professor Thomas Ingicco, one is awed at the meticulous manner by which each millimeter of earth is brushed off or scraped in a hole that was a mere two meters deep. Each fragment that was solid was important even if the locals would comment that these were just stones. The stories of then Mayor Marcelo dela Cruz tell of earlier archeological expeditions to the same site by the French and finally the discovery of the parts of the slaughtered animal. All the carbon dating and technical tests are done in Paris before these are displayed at the National Museum and prototypes sent to Rizal for their perusal.
I also met Alonzo Saclag Sr., the living treasure of Kalinga at the cultural and arts center called the Awichon Cultural Village which he established as the 2000 Gawad Manlilikha awardee of National Commission for Culture and Arts.
Playing indigenous games, learning to play indigenous bamboo instruments, and sleeping in traditional octagonal Kalinga huts are among the thrills of climbing the seven- kilometer road to the exclusive plateau.He also traces the exit trail of then President Emilio Aguinaldo after declaring Lubuagan town as the seat of the Philippine government in March 1900.
I wish I got to ride the taltallac, a traditional wooden cart down the Tabuk-Bontoc Road from the San Francisco restaurant. The gravity propelled ride down the paved highway could have pumped up the adrenalin in my urbane sensibilities but I would rather watch.
The Tiwon fertility spring in Lubuagan was a funny encounter with a gregarious old lady. She told us about this popular water source that is said to bless childless couples with twins. She said that one must come to the spring at dawn and bathe as the female deity once did in order to be blessed. Of course, naivete is my first name, I was awed by the tale.
Almost two decades ago, I came upon Cirilo Bawer at the Mabilong Weaver’s Village and listened to the history of weaving the Kalinga patterns. This place has always drawn tourists to Lubuagan. One also gets to watch the women sitting in their backstrap looms between planting and harvest seasons. This area has accommodations now for visitors who want to stay longer.
But the best part of my Kalinga escapades of recent was meeting Corazon Kub-ao Ryan at the Ryan Farms in Tabuk City.
She brought pride to the local Bugnay wine when she and her family made it world-class at the Ryan and Sons Winery. She has her own yard of bugnay trees from where the berries are picked at the best time of ripeness for processing into wines. She was busy then propagating the cuttings for Bauko, Mountain Province Mayor Abe Akilith, to do the same in his municipality
I wish I could hop on a van soon, stop over at my favorite M Hotel and take this journey through Kalinga again. For now, there is only time to sit and wait until this biological war with Covid-19 is over.

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