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Getting a Guide in BontocJun 16, 2011

Getting a Guide in Bontoc

Road Trip to Bontoc
I took my time getting up in Baguio but still managed to get the 10:00 am bus to Bontoc. Having lived in Sagada for 3 years, the scenic 6 hour route was already too familiar to me. I just dozed off hoping to wake up in Bontoc. I couldn't get a good sleep though. I was still excited about the trip. The scenery, even though familiar, was still engaging. I noticed a few scenic rest stops that were not there before. Indeed, tourism is catching on fast. Even the roads are better, although there are still a few stretches of dirt roads.

Discouraged by the Bontoc Locals
Upon arriving in Bontoc, I got into small conversations with the locals. Again, upon hearing that I was going to Kalinga, their reactions were the same, "Of all the places you could go to, why Kalinga? Why not Maligcong? or Mainit? It would be safer." Again, I was discouraged. Am I nuts not to heed the words of the locals who know this land and culture much better than me? But again, I told myself that I didn't go all the way to Bontoc just to turn back. I could understand that outside the Cordillera (the mountain range where the Ibaloi, Ifugao and Kalinga inhabit), the notion of Kalinga raises the spectre of head-hunting. But that practice is said to be in the past. What the locals feel belligerent about the Kalinga is simply the volatility of the place and culture. Tribal wars can be ignited from a bar brawl and all hell breaks loose. I got the feeling that it would be easy to set the Kalingas off if they don't like you, or if you do something to offend them (even inadvertently).

Dog Meat
I only planned on staying overnight so I tried to do as much as I could. Folk music? There was none. I was hoping my friend Pinat was still doing a gig there. I kept asking locals for interesting tidbits. I was told that I could eat dog meat in 2 places - Junny's Sagada Lunch and at the Walter...something. I went to Junny's and ordered 2 dog dishes - dinuguan (blood pudding) and pulutan (ideal as side dish for guys drinking). While I've eaten dog meat before, this time, I was mindful of the taste. Is there a particular dog taste? I didn't find any.

Francis Pa-in
I was pointed to a man who they said was the regular guide to the Kalinga area. His name is Francis Pa-in, a Kalinga native himself who has been guiding for nearly 20 years now. I also remember reading about him in Lonely Planet. We talked and made arrangements for tomorrow's trip. His rate was P1000/day. Ouch! If I had company, I would be able to split the cost. This is my first time to pay such a price for a guide. I asked him to look for more tourists to share the cost with. No tourists for Kalinga. In fact, during the entire 2-week Kalinga trip, I was the only tourist (while Sagada gets them by the jeep loads!)

Next stop...Tinglayan, Kalinga!

--- TheLoneRider

How to Get There from Baguio:
  1. take a cab to the Dangwa Terminal (but don't take the Dangwa bus. It's a multi-destination terminal by different bus companies)
  2. proceed to the Lizardo Bus Line and take the GL bus going to Bontoc (owned by Lizardo as well). GL is probably the most comfortable bus to Bontoc. P212.00, 6 hours.

01bus_terminal 02passion_fruit 03benenas_park 04panorama_parkview
05zigzag 06mountain_village 07bontoc_bus 08francis_pain
09pacsafe 10dogmeat 11bontoc_proper 12junnys_sagada
13bontoc_museum 14bontoc_plaza 15churyaa_hotel 16bambi_chakas

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