On the Way to Sagada from Benguet to Mt. Province, Awesome Rice Terraces Views, Bontoc Museum Sidetrip, Optional Tours and the Teng-Ab Retreat House

I'm really falling in love with my Panasonic Lumix GF1 - after 3 years haha. I find myself shooting more pictures and I want to show as much of my trip as possible to you. Because sometimes, there are no words good enough to describe what I see (esp. when we talk about Mother Nature). We were on our way to Sagada, Mt. Province from La Trinidad, Benguet when we saw a sea of clouds, like that of Pulag, rice / veggie terraces and made a brief stop at the Bontoc Museum to check out a little bit about the tribes and their way of life before in the Cordilleras =)

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5:30 a.m. We left the ATI Dorm at around 4:30 a.m. It was going to be a long ride to Sagada (more than 5 hours). 

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I loved that we were so high up and the views kept me from feeling dizzy with all that winding road.

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The trees looked like those a Chinese painting from a distance..

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It's such a rare occasion that I'm awake for the sunrise haha.

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I find it hard to sleep during car rides. Maybe I just don't want to miss out on anything..

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I started to see terraces from every corner. =) Who said you can only find them in Banaue..?

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6 a.m. Stop # 1 (Loyung's Restaurant - Km. 49, Halsema Road, Paoay, Atok, Benguet) - Even the bathroom break area had a view haha. Note: There is a P3 or P5 charge for most of the stops if you want to go to the toilet.

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6:20 a.m. Stop # 2 (Highest Point, Cattubo, Atok, Benguet) - If you're a girl, it's quite hard not to pee again and again because it's cold and you have to stay hydrated haha. Good thing there are stops with views. If my math is correct, we are almost to the same height of the highest peak in Mt. Pulag. Only this time, we reached it comfortably by car and given ample time to stretch our sleeping legs =)

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I love this silhouette..

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We spent around 30 minutes here - ate our packed breakfasts and took lots of pictures haha.

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Can you see the waterfall?

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There are sari-sari stores, gazebos and wonderful views in some of the stops.

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8:45 a.m. Stop # 3 (Mt. Kalawitan Coffee Shop - Halsema Highway, Sabangan, Mt. Province) If you zoom in, you'll see terraces =)

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They said this is called Centipede Terraces. It goes all the way to the left and right of this picture. =D

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6:50 a.m. Here's a group pic of the OA (Organic Agriculture) Sagada and Benguet Bloggers brought together by the ATI-CAR (Agricultural Training Institute) of the Philippine Department of Agriculture! =) From the top left to the bottom left - Jonel, JR, Enzo, Ferds, Myke, Ryan, Rey, Cristelle, Ruth, Marj and myself. Missing Alex who took such a wonderful pic! Thanks, Alex!!!

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9:30 a.m. We stopped here to check out the Bontoc Museum. Our guides said Bontoc is the old capital of Mt. Province.

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It's open Mondays to Sundays (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a lunch break from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.)

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An important thing to note is that cameras are not allowed inside with the relics - mainly because they don't want to disturb the spirits from these items that were once used by the tribes. The museum began as a small collection of gifts from the people of Bontoc barrios to Sister Basil Gekiere, ICM. She was a Belgian missionary and came here in 1931. Over the years, the collection grew to artifacts, ritual objects and heirloom pieces (Chinese porcelain and stoneware) from the different provinces of the Northern Luzon Cordillera Region.

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You can find items and histories from the locations in purple below. You can also buy a museum introduction brochure for P10.

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Today, this ethnological museum is under the care of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and they are the keepers of the Cordillera peoples' culture and traditions. The range of objects in the Bontoc Museum includes items and stories from the indigenous communities of Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao, Benguet, Abra and Mt. Province.

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There's an Outdoor Museum where you can take pictures. 

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They transferred traditional Bontoc ili (village) houses and structures here to show the key aspects of the Bontoc village life in the olden days. The houses are smoked to preserve the wood, floors and roof.

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They are so close to the ground (made me wonder about their height..)

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but are actually quite spacious inside. The man you see here is actually a display of how they treat a loved one who has just passed away. They tie him/her to a chair inside the house and talk to him every day as if he was still alive... The museum also has small coffins where they place the corpse in a fetus position (they came from the earth, they will return back to the earth upon death). 

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This is the Bontoc CR (toilet). Imagine doing your thing there with a live black pig.. No electricity back then too! Talk about organic..

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There's a kitchen, bedroom and a place to store their harvest. No fridge!

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This is the Ato. It's like the religious and political center of the village. Men would converge, have a bonfire and sleep together here. The structure is pretty low - probably to keep the heat in on a cold Cordillera night..

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Women and children in the village have their own communal sleeping place too called Ulog.

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These horns are supposed to mean something (I think status symbols) but I forgot to note it down...

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There's this fruit they said we could eat.. I think they called it cherries.. Haha.

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You roll it first before you take a bite. Of course I tried it haha - bitter (mapakla) and sour!

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The beautiful white structure is part the Museum Ethno Cordillera Library and Souvenir Shop. The off-limits part is the SIHM Convent.

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You can buy handwoven products, postcards, books, CDs of Cordillera music, beads, etc. here.

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Our Igorot ATI Benguet blogger / guide Manong Erning introduced us to Eduardo Masferre. He's highly regarded here and you can even see a Masferre Inn in Sagada. He photographed and documented the lives of the indigenous people in the Cordilleras. He is called the "Father of Philippine Photography". He said that Mr. Masferre owned a studio here and had access to films developed so his other photos might have other anonymous photographers.

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Below is a picture of the Maligcong Rice Terraces here in Bontoc, Mt. Province. Breathtaking, isn't it?

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This painting piqued my interest. I asked about it and the Sister told me about a mossy lake in Brgy. Latang, Barlig, Mt. Province. Stories say nymphs take a bath here. I searched about it online and I found someone who hiked all the way there, was mystified by the Barlig forest and said that Siblaw Taraw is quicksand. You can check out other tourist spots in Latang here.

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If you'd like to stay in Bontoc, there's a Teng-Ab Retreat House located "in the scenic mountain range of Bontoc". I didn't stay here but it looks interesting... "The staff may also be requested to arrange or assist the spiritual hiking and educational tours to places of cultural interests in the provinces of Ifugao and Mountain Province."

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10:30 a.m. You should definitely include Bontoc in your Sagada trip =) It took us just an hour by car from the Bontoc Museum (30 minutes from the sign below) to the Sagada Municipal Hall. It's time for our Sagada Organic Coffee Farm Tour!

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Trip Details:
2616 Bontoc, Mountain Province, Philippines
+63-74-6068084

Bontoc, Mountain Province
0920-9041261 / 0928-5515546 / 0916-6868348
+63-74-4624313 / +63-74-4624292
tengab.bonlag @yahoo.com











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