Long Journey to Kalinga
Almost 24 hours since we departed from Manila, my friends and I finally arrived at our temporary abode in Kalinga. The road that we traveled to get to Kalinga definitely wasn’t easy but the experience was incredible. Our road adventure to get to this destination was remarkable. Despite of the long hours and winding and multiple bus and jeepney rides and some little mishaps that we encountered on the road, that didn’t undermine our interest about Kalinga. As what travelers say, charged it to experience.
Kalinga is a province in Cordillera Region in Luzon. Travel time to get to this province normally takes about 16 to 20 hours from Manila depending on the route. There are four routes to choose, via Baguio, Bontoc, Tuguegarao or Tabuk. The latter is the most convenient.
Because we weren’t able to purchase bus tickets to Tabuk ahead of time and buses to Bontoc were few and lining up for chance passenger for buses to Tuguegarao was terrible, we were left with taking the Baguio route.
We rode a Baguio-bound bus (PHP 450) at Genesis Terminal in Pasay. The bus left at around 11:00 PM and arrived in Baguio at around 5:00 AM. We hurriedly went to Dangwa Terminal to catch the first GL Lizaro Bontoc-bound bus (PHP 220). The queue for bus tickets in Dangwa was already piling up when we arrived but good thing that we were still able to score seats for the 7:00 AM trip. It was past 12:00 PM when we were able to arrive in Bontoc. We immediately looked for the jeepney that goes to Tinglayan. We asked a police officer stationed at the terminal and he directed us to a side of the road that is about 5 minutes walk away. There we found a jeepney parked in the corner. We informed the jeepney driver that we would be heading to Tinglayan. We were asked to wait because the jeepney was only bound to Buscalan and the jeepney that normally goes to Tinglayan wasn’t in sight yet.
With no trace that another jeepney would be going to Kalinga that day, we were asked to board the Buscalan-bound jeepney (PHP 100). The jeepney driver told us that they would be taking us to Tinglayan after they drop off the other passengers in Buscalan. Perfect!
The road to Kalinga was scenic. I regretted that I had seated inside the jeepney. I actually planned to ride the jeepney on top load but my companions weren’t supportive because they reasoned out that the sun was on its peak. It could have been a perfect ride if I could see the majestic scenery of Chico River and the mountain ranges in an open view.
After an hour driving through the jagged cliff side roads of Bontoc-Tabuk National Road, the jeepney tires suddenly broke down. We waited for almost an hour until another jeepney came into the rescue. We transferred to the other jeepney. Because it was already mid-afternoon and the sun was bearable already, my buddy and I decided to top load. Now, that was exciting!
Riding the jeepney on top load was scary at some points. #YOLO, eh! Sometimes we felt that the jeepney would tilt as if it was about to fall at the cliff. But, I guess that was the exciting part or… maybe not. Nonetheless, the sight while on top load was refreshing. The view we had along the road was unbelievable and very scenic. I could say it’s the best way to travel to Kalinga. We’ve got the best spot to view the grand surroundings that this province is made of.
Stuck in Mar-O
We were dropped off at the town of Mar-O together with some other passengers who were also bound to Tinglayan. We were asked to wait for the meantime because the jeepney had to get uphill to take the passengers bound to Buscalan.
We got our initial encounter of what Kalinga community is at the town of Mar-O. We acquainted ourselves with the locals and the community. We made ourselves busy by socializing with the locals and watching native pigs and kids play around. It’s quite interesting that native pigs are more plenty than any other animals that were freely roaming around. The town also has one of the great viewpoints wherein you can have a scenic view of the mountains and rice terraces. We were also able to see Bugnay Village from the main road. If we only knew that our jeepney wouldn’t be coming back sooner, we could have gone to that nearby village and perhaps see what life seems like in that village.
One of the co-workers from the jeepney came back to the town and broke the news that the jeepney encountered a broken tire. We realized that we still would be waiting for more hours before the jeepney to arrive; hence, we went to the nearby store and bought some canned goods and biscuits to eat. We were already famished. We weren’t able to have a decent lunch when we were in Bontoc.
It was already dark when a jeepney came in. It was a different jeepney but this would also take us to our destination. We boarded the vehicle and left the town of Mar-o that served us our temporary shelter for almost four hours.
Homestay at Luplupa
Thirty minutes after, one of the locals called our attention and pointed to us the village of Luplupa. “Finally!” I’ve told myself. We were on the road for almost 24 hours, what we wanted to do was to get to our transient, put down our bags, have a decent meal and lay to our beds to have a rest. But before those things happened, we endured a quite of a long walk from the main road first because our transient is located at the heart of the village.
The way to the town of Luplupa from the main road is by crossing the hanging steel bridge. Crossing the hanging bridge under a dark sky was a little struggle yet exciting because we couldn’t see obviously what’s below us – and if there’s someone (or maybe something) coming towards us. We could only hear the raging river. The only light that guided us along the way was our flashlight from our mobile phones. The nearest light post was at the end of the bridge.
Luplupa Riverside Inn was our humble abode while we were in Kalinga. Rate per night costs PHP 300 per person. We were greeted by Mang Johnny who is the caretaker of the guesthouse and Kuya Moises who will be our guide for our next day’s activities.
The guesthouse was our home for two nights. They also took care of all our meals while we were in the village. A meal costs PHP 100 per person, which was served a la home stay.
While the staff of the guesthouse prepared our dinner, we had a chat first with Mang Johnny and Kuya Moises about the province. It was also then that we discussed about our plan for the next day. Since we would be only having a full day to get around, with the use of the map painted in one of the walls of the guesthouse, we meticulously plotted our route. I didn’t know that there are so many places to explore in Tinglayan alone. Each village sounded interesting to get to. We wanted to visit several places but we were constrained with time. After some debates, we all had agreed to visit three villages; namely, Buscalan, Loccong and Butbut Proper.
It was on our following days that we were able to see Luplupa in broad daylight. It could have been better if we were able to allot longer time to get around the village. Seeing the hanging bridge in the open light of the day made me shiver with excitement. How fun it was to walk at the hanging bridge! The hanging bridge connects the village of Luplupa to the rest of Kalinga. Here is where we were also able to see closer the great Chico River.
The view of the hanging bridge, the river and the mountain range was a refreshing sight to start our hike. It was a great scene that made us even more excited to explore the villages of Tinglayan.