Thursday, April 10, 2014

From Traverse to Reverse: The Long Road to Wang Od

picture in front of Wang Od's residence

Abra, Kalinga and Apayao. The popular route to cover these 3 routes was to start in the northeast city of Tuguegarao, but because of the suspension in effect with Florida Bus Line, it was not so easy getting a seat in a bus to that City. Instead, we thought of taking the reverse, which is from Abra, and end up in Tuguegarao.

Meantime, upon arrival in Abra though, we were informed that people going Kalinga take the Tuguegarao route (via Laoag through Patapat Viaduct) which would eat 12 hours minimum and a lot from our budget.

Looking at google maps and zooming thru wikimapia though, it seems the road to Kalinga via the traverse from Abra seems paved. I also confirmed in Abra that there are trips to Licuaan Baay; The nearby town, Balbalan, is under the jurisdiction of Kalinga, and I thought there must be some access going to the rest of the municipalities of Kalinga. We thought  about doing some hitchhikes instead between Baay and Balbalan. 

From our tour of Bucay, Daniel, our host for our first night in Abra, offered to drop us to Lagangilang, where it is said there are trips to Baay. It was about 40 kilometers away from Bucay, going thru the town of Dolores.

a longbridge before reaching DoloresTown in Abra

Ed has mentioned that there are some attractions too in Dolores, including the underground river in Ibtec, and the cave, but upon arrival in the brgy captain's house and being informed of the trekking required, we thought we have not rested enough to do another trekking. We decided to take if off our plan.

From there, we headed further to Lagangilang. 

In Lagangilang, we were told that the jeep going to Baay leaves morning, around 7am, and there's no second trip. As expected, people were telling us to wait til morning (which is very common in the provinces, as if time is that cheap you know). We have work awaiting, and there's no way we'll let the day pass without doing anything, especially that it's only 10 in the morning, and there's nothing to see at all in that town.

We walked, and was chancing on the passing vehicles. From the town center, after about a kilometer, we passed by a DENR check point and made a small chat. A little while later, a jeep bound for some brgy somewhere passed by and we flagged it. We said they can drop us along the highway before making its turn to its destination in brgy calao. From there we walked further to look for some store or where we can get water, until we got to an army detachment in brgy tologtog.

Again, as an SOP, we were asked a few questions, our ids, until it was our turn to ask for water. Just like the people we've asked and told, they're all puzzled at what has come to our mind that we decided to take that route. Even them, they say, take the tuguegarao route.

There don't seem to be any point explaining so much, so we paved goodbye, and said we'll take some shade from the (tamarind) tree so we can flag some passing by vehicles.

There were a number of vehicles we've flagged but everyone were saying they're almost at their destination; Some quick nap, and another jeep bound for brgy natipunan passed. Just like what wedid with the first jeep, we asked to be dropped in the highway. That was another  , i'd estimate, 5  kilometers forward.

From Natipunan, we knocked on some household again to ask for water. This time, not only did we ask for water, but asked if we can bring the liter (softdrink) bottle with us. Luckily, they gave it away. 

We walked further and took some shade at a Mango tree. There were the fruits and made some tries (3 pcs It was roaring SOURRRRR...

this is how we wait for vehicles passing

Both I and Minie fell asleep waiting for the next vehicle. We realized it's sunday and we might have trouble getting a hitch indeed;

We thought about taking a walk.

A little while later again, some van passed by and we flagged it. Luckily, it was bound to Baay.

The driver and a passenger were asking several questions until they realized they're asking is taking so much time; They asked us to hop in though and resumed with their interrogation.

In the Van, we were asked if we have ids (which we do) and also, surprisingly, a cedula (community tax certificate); This is the first time I've been asked this and it comes as a surprise for me since it does not really prove anything. You can easily get a cedula anywhere, anytime, and for any money you have.

The trip was running smooth, and we were already planning on our next move as soon as we reach Baay. I've asked another pasenger for the expected time of arrival in Baay,and I was told it will be at 4pm; There's some more time; From there I was feeeling we can probably try to catch another hitch which will get us to the boundary. 

We are approaching a checkpoint next to the entry to Brgy Leleng, when the van engine died. The driver got off, and we were asked to get off; Checked the engine (while I asked for coffee on the nearby store). Then, a little while further, we were asked to do a push to jump start the van; Oh well, there were several repetitions of push forward and push backwards.. my legs are cramping.

Then it rained, we had no choice but to take shade from within the store where I got my coffee.

The people were insisting we are government intelligence or that sort, and ket pointing that we are rather civilians and not members of any leftist group. We affirmed we are not what they think, but they won't believe us so we ended up just saying yes to their statements thereafter.

The rain stopped, and went back to jump starting. We got the van to start, and hit back on the road.

It was all an uphill ascend from that point on. We're about to reach the summit of this last hill, and the marker on the national road was saying 4 kilometers to go until the next town. The next thing that happened was... the van broke again. Since there was no way we can jumpstart it via push since it's a steep uphill, and it was dangerous to jumpstart it via the reverse,we had to turn the van. Yet, several attempts but nothing happened. It was almost dark and the driver decided we need to go back to Bangued. We had to make a quick decision: to go back or not. 

Wang od was our priority for this trip, and no way are we making big risks of not making it. Also, we thought it won't look good if we leave them there after agreeing on hitching us. We decided to join them going back to Bangued, spending more, but will get the best chances of getting a Wang Od tattoo.

We had the van towed by a passing truck. There were some challenges with the towing as the terrain is uneven, and midway along, the driver decided to transfer us to a passing pickup which happens to be his friends'. And his friend drove all the way from kalinga.. (SEE!!!! there's actually a lot taking this route). One of the passengers on the pickup was advising us to head to Damiogran, where people of some tribes in Tinglayan are having a PEACE PACT with that tribe there in Abra; They said these Tinglayen tribesmen shall be bound home, in Tingllayen, the following day.and to whom we can hitch. 

We reached Bangued at about 7pm. Had dinner at what is called a "food court" and went to the what was said to be the cheapest accomodation in Abra down in brgy Calaba.

I sat on the terrace at the back and thought deeply of our options. I thought Damiogan is just as unsure. First of all,nobody else can confirm of that peace pact, and second, Damiogan is quite far and we might waste another day of the remaining 3 days. I asked Ed again, and fortunately, he knows a cheaper route from Abra. 

We woke up 6, and were at town center by 7, to wait for a southbound bus. We caught a Partas bus bound to Manila. We'll have to get off in Tagudin, Ilocos Norte, then take a Van to Cervantes, and then another van to Bauko, and then another van to Bontoc.Ed said we might not make it to the van for Bontoc, and might have to wait the next day. Luckily, there was still a van for Bontoc upon arrival in Bauko. 

road to cervantes

Upon our arrival in Bugnay, (although we have assumed this), there was no more bus to get us to Tabuk.

Meanwhile, there were jeeps bound for some towns along the way to Bugnay. The first jeep we rode was bound to Tocucan. Where tocucan is? We don't know. We just told the driver to drop us in the highway, where we can wait for another jeep or any passing vehicle till we finally make it to Bugnay (Cheers for not giving up!!!!). We probably moved 8 kilometers away from this first jeep. Just minutes after we got off, we flagged another jeep that got us to another 5 kilometerrs; By this time, we are  in Anabel.

the road in mountain province, from bontoc

the road in mountain province, from bontoc

About half an hour later, a coffee and some bread, a passenger bus that's bound home to a nearby town is approaching. We flagged it and thankfully, it stopped.

Several kilometers later, there was the junction. I asked the driver if the other turn is the way to Bugnay.. he said Yes. Then again, it's raining and there don't seem to be any shade close by. It's also almost 6pm by now. There was no choice but to sleep in their hometown. Anyway, the bus staff was saying that there shall be an early jeep from their hometown to Bugnay.

We were offered to stay in their Auto Repair/Machine shop.

We're starving and we looked for some store. The ending was being offered their hut for the night. 

our humble abode for the night

picture with the Angyoda Family in Sadanga

We left at 7am the following morning and just about 20 minutes after, we're already in Bugnay... and, again, starving.. So we decided to buy a canned good and ask for rice on the same store. We ate in their kitchen :-)

breakfast at one of the houses in Bugnay

We started our trek at 7:40. We were asking passers by for where buscalan is, and with where they are pointing us to,it's almost unbelievable that people are just fine walking the distance every day. It took us an hour and 40mins to get to Wang od. To finally see her, and smile at us.. I was so relieved.

trek to Buscalan in Tinglayen, Kalinga

trek to Buscalan in Tinglayen, Kalinga

trek to Buscalan in Tinglayen, Kalinga

trek to Buscalan in Tinglayen, Kalinga

folks getting tattooed by Fang (Wang) Od and her grandaughter Grace

getting tattooed by Fang (Wang) Od 

getting tattooed by Fang (Wang) Od 

getting tattooed by Fang (Wang) Od 

getting tattooed by Fang (Wang) Od 

tools of by Fang (Wang) Od for tattooing

limbonis with Fang(Wang) Od

When we got there, she had several overnighters awaiting their turns. But having told them what we've gone through, Wang Od's niece did something that got our tattoo done by 2pm. 

Right after our tattoo, we left and trekked back. Locals were telling us there are no more jeeps, but, how many times have we heard it by now? We ended up getting to Bontoc as early as 6pm, thru a van that distributes plasticware. For that, we have 1 more day to do a Banaue, Ifugao trip.

limbonis with the village mothers

hitchhiking from Bugnay to Bontoc via a van selling plasticware

Looking to travelling to this destination? Talk to me and we'll let's talk about your accomodation, transpo, and tour options


  1. Yeikkks! Watda adventure.

    Btw, did the locals in Sadanga (and all those remote mountain towns elsewhere) have the same level of suspicion as what you have experienced in Abra? Oh my, Abra never changed that way.

    1. not really brother.. I was surprised to see Abra like how cotabato is :-( especially at night andami army everywhere right in the capitol


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