Invade Kalinga….A Unique Culture So Popular Yet A Paradise Unknown To Many

Welcome to the Province of Kalinga

People of the lowland areas like the city of Tuguegarao usually associate Kalinga Province with a very unique culture of the North Philippines. It is inhabited by the locals called “kalingas”. It is a province located west of Tuguegarao City. It is a place rich in culture and traditions. The most popular place in the province is Tabuk, the capital and now a newly established city.

This is the signage between the Provinces of Isabela and Kalinga. It tells that you are finally entering Kalinga. On the signage says; “Lumnok Kayo”, a Kalinga term which means “Welcome” or “Dumanon Kayo” in Ilokano.

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Me and hubby at the border of Kalinga and Isabela

As planned, we went to attend a traditional Kalinga wedding in a town called Lubuagan. Actually, it was a mix wedding style of Benguet and Kalinga. The groom, who’s a former classmate of my brother-in-law in Baguio Seminary, is from Benguet while the bride is a pure-blooded Kalinga. It was my first time to set foot on Lubuagan.

I’ve been to Kalinga before but only in Tabuk and some parts which aren’t too far from its capital. I remember pretty well the horrible stories of my oldies when they talk about Kalinga.  Kalinga is consists of many tribes and tribal war is well-known in this place. It’s a part of the Kalinga culture. According to stories passed to many generations by mouth, when a member of a certain tribe killed or hurt someone from another tribe, from there starts the bloody tribal war where each tribe will revenge the life of every tribe member they lose. Bloody tribal war means “a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye”.

In fact, in the city of Tuguegarao where many well-known universities are found, I’ve heard stories from friends and teachers that when tribal wars in Kalinga occur, all Kalinga students cannot be seen in school. They may get absent for a week or two or even a month for as long as the war has not come to an end yet, otherwise they may be killed anytime on the streets by any of their tribe-enemies.

All those mind-boggling stories about Kalinga were temporarily forgotten when I saw the wonders of Lubuagan. In Lubuagan, there lived natives of different tribes. When we were there for a wedding celebration, I’ve seen how peaceful they celebrated an occasion. People from different tribes went to celebrate with the groom and the bride. Today, the kind of celebration has been modernized although the local songs and dances are still the prime of attraction.

So for now, I would like to share to you the hidden wonders of Kalinga….its beautiful culture and people, its untouchable wonders, and the beauty of living simple in that place.

On The Way To Lubuagan

These are the photos I’ve taken from inside the car as we travel to Lubuagan. The roads are cemented, although some are still under construction. The mountains are carpeted in green.

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The heavens seem to be just a step away because of the clouds covering the mountains and hills. 

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The way to Lubuagan isn’t easy because of the endless zigzag roads going up and down from the mountains. Although the roads are already cemented, the ravines nearby are still deadly scary. 

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A road under the rocky mountain

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“Beware of the falling rocks”

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On the road under a hard rocky mountain

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Approaching a small mountain tunnel

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Towering us in the car is a huge rocky mountain with some roots hanging. Water is also drifting through the roots that seemed to come from a spring up above the mountain.

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It’s not obvious but that’s a very deep abyss

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Ped-Xing Equals Animal-Xing

Oh, pedestrians don’t just have the right to the roads. If you see animals crossing the streets, you have no choice but to stop and wait for them to cross. If you are brave enough, then you may get out of the car and drive the animals away. 20150418_075305

Sturdy Trees

The trees that are commonly seen in the mountains and near the roads are the acacia trees. The big acacia trees are stormed by wild ferns and orchids usually living on the barks of the trees. 

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Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk

St. Peter’s Church in Lubuagan is said to be the very first church built in Kalinga. Near the church is an old 3-storey house which serves as the accommodation of the parish priest and those who are serving the church. 

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The St. Peter’s Church of Lubuagan

Sagada of The North

I’m sure you know so well the Banaue Rice Terraces which is one of the eight wonders of the world. In the northern Philippines, we also have our own dose of Banaue. These beautiful man-made terraces in the north are found in Lubuagan and Tinglayan in the province of Kalinga. You see, people of Kalinga found a way to do farming despite living in mountainous province. Slowly, they built the so-called Kalinga Rice Terraces.

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Which way to go….up or down? The building there is the only drive inn available in Lubuagan

Tattooed Women of Kalinga

A lot of women, usually the oldies, are tattooed. It’s a part of their culture as “kalingas”. But don’t be scared. They just look intimidating because of their tattoos, but most of them are wonderful people. One of the problems though is communicating to some old people who don’t know how to speak in Tagalog. I experienced asking an old woman in a store near St. Peter’s Church about where a public toilet could be found. Earlier before we reached the town proper of Lubuagan, we passed by small communities with public toilets which were even marked “Public CR” so I was comfortable asking the old woman if they have one in Lubuagan. I got an answer, not yes or no, but something very alien to my ears. She spoke back in their dialect. I ended up saying “Thank you” and just smiled at the old woman. She was very intimidating. She has some tattoos on her arms, face and neck. She was even wearing some jewelries with pendants made up of animals’ teeth.

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This is a sample photo of Kalinga women cleaning the coffee beans before roasting. See their tattoos? (credit to the photo owner)

The Pot Dance of the Lubuganos

Lubuagan is very rich in folk songs and dances. A school called St. Teresita’s School of Lubuagan has organized a dance troop depicting the pot dance of Lubuaganos. (photo credit to the owner)

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Lubuagan’s Wedding Style With A Modern Touch

The wedding that we had attended was a traditional with a little touch of modern Kalinga style. Chris and Yvonne, the groom and bride, came from two different tribes. Chris is a native of Benguet while Yvonne is a pure Kalinga. Because they had lived most of their lives in the city, their taste for wedding celebrations had also changed. The reception was held in the town’s gymnasium to accommodate all the visitors. A part of the culture of Kalinga is to expect the whole barangay or a small town to attend your big day. And that’s it. I was a bit culture-shocked when I saw the gym’s bleachers almost filled up by guests, most of them were from different tribes. Wedding celebrations in Kalinga are often highlighted with “gangsa dance”. Men will dance in their own drum-beat music using their bronze gong, then they are followed by the women.

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The Fertility Spring

I guess you have heard about different versions of stories on conceiving a baby after years of waiting. In Lubuagan, there is a spring called fertility spring. According to the old people in the place, the spring was said to be the lucky charm of those women who wished to have a child but could not get pregnant. Stories about the spring had spread in the nearby communities. In fact, near the spring is a small community wherein 80% of the population had twins or triplets as a result of all the couples’ efforts to drink the spring’s water and to take a bath in the said spring for two days. At least that was what an old man told us. Maybe, they were just old school stories, but there’s no harm in trying. Unfortunately, my husband and I cannot try it because we can’t stay longer in the place.

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This is a community which was said to have benefited from the fertility spring. Mot of the residents have twins and triplets.

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The water in that small pool comes from the fertility spring which flows from the mountain down to the community.

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Here is where the water from fertility spring flows

The Old Houses in Lubuagan

Lubuagan isn’t just rich in culture, but also in history. Ninety percent of the houses in Lubuagan are still spanish-styled houses and are there still standing even before the 2nd war. The old houses are made up of hard woods, most of which are narras. 20150418_082136 20150418_082233 20150418_090546 20150418_090758 20150418_115603 20150418_142026 20150418_142029 20150418_142032 20150418_142036 20150418_142039 20150418_142041 20150418_142051 20150418_142154 20150418_142156 Don’t be confused! You will see pigs roaming around. Most of the pigs are native ones. Pigs aren’t inside a pig pen. They are free like their masters. This photo wasn’t taken in Lubuagan. It’s in Lacneg. Pardon if I misspelled it.

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Lubuagan’s Nostalgic Effect

To top it all, the experience of seeing Lubuagan Kalinga for the first time erased all the scary stories in my mind about the culture of Kalinga. It is indeed a wonderful place for vacation if you want to get out from the noise of the rumbling vehicles in the city. The cool wind is inviting. Even at noon, one cannot feel the heat of summer unlike in Tuguegarao city where one wishes every now and then for a cooler place to stay at. Lubuagan reminds every visitor the importance of preserving mother earth.

Oh, another thing that amazes me is the signage on our way to Lubuagan saying, “Shoot the thief!”. So every resident has the right to shoot anyone who harms him. According to hearsays from the lowland areas, each house in upper Kalinga may or may not have a gun. That looks scary, is it? But the thing is, you won’t be touched if you do right.

Leaving Lubuagan doesn’t not stop my longing to see it again next time, and that “next time” would mean staying there for longer time so that I may experience bathing at the fertility spring.

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Wild ferns and orchids living on the barks

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I don’t know the name of this flower but there are lots of them in the place

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These are the native stargazer lilies

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Outgoing Cards to India, China and Indonesia: April 17th, ’15

I’ve swapped some cards with a postcrosser in India. We both agreed to enclose a banknote as a souvenir. I sent him two cards—one showcasing a folk dance in Ifugao province, and the other one showing two native people of Ifugao walking on the world famous Banaue Rice Terraces. Enclosed was the latest 20-peso bank note. Cards will be at my friend’s doorstep in two weeks time.

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I also sent a card of the Mount Mayon to a postcard-swapper from China. In return, I will be expecting a card from her showing her university. I will be posting here soon once I receive the card.

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Last card was sent to Indonesia. It’s a card of the Pearl Farm resort in Davao province. It’s a private cove beach resort with beautiful cottages and white-sand beach. The nearby mountains make it even more lovable. It’s perfect for summer getaways.

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Beautiful Bridges in China

I am fond of the great ancient architecture in China. I have a collection of some of the popular bridges in the country, some buildings, mountains, and parks. I usually buy many copies of each card because I may also swap them sometimes to other cards of my interest. The four cards below were sent to Germany, Finland and Russia. I specifically love the stone arch bridge and the twin bridge.

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Postcard Collection: Philippine Signs and Wonders

Today, I’m posting about the new cards I bought yesterday from the new bookstore I’ve found in our city. These cards will be added to my collection, but I also bought some extra copies of each card so I can have something to swap with my regular swapper-friends.

Famous Chocolate Hills in Bohol province

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The tunnels in Corregidor Island. It reminds a dark past of the country during the war in 1940s.

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San Juanico Bridge joining two islands in Samar-Leyte. It was a project of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It’s the longest bridge in the country and been there for so many years.

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Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines

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Mount Mayon has the perfect cone shape among all volcanoes in the Philippines. It’s an active volcano as well.

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The old gate in Intramuros Manila

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If you like to go to Baguio City, be prepared for this zigzag road in the mountains.

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Snail Mails, Still Adored By Some

More than two decades ago, I got so hooked up with writing letters to penpals. Email back then wasn’t as famous as it is now., therefore snail mail made it possible to keep up with my hobby. Every week, I received letters from strangers. I remember my mother was very furious before because I used to spend money for postal services. She thought I was just making the PhilPost rich. True enough, but the fulfillment I got when receiving replies for my snail mails was incomparable.

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Until now, I still have those old letters from the people I’ve exchanged snails mails before. In fact, I barely recall their names and stories, but sometimes when I have the chance to read again the letters, it really makes me smile that there are some strangers who trusted their stories to another stranger.

There are some of them who found me on facebook after so many years when we stopped sending letters to each other. One of them is Bhego. She was just a high schooler when we started exchanging snail mails. Four to five years after, the communication stopped because we were both busy in school. Modern technology paved a way for me to find Bhego in one of the social networking websites. She’s now in Singapore, working as an engineer.

Compared to email, I still prefer snail mails because of the thrill I get while waiting for the mails to arrive. Of course emailing has a very big advantage to everyone. It’s easier, quick and very comfortable to use. To top it all, no matter how inconvenient a snail mail is, I would still love to receive one from a friend or maybe a stranger out there.

Postcard Collection: The Nocturnal Philippine Eagle-Owl

Hi guys! It’s past 11 in the evening here in my country, the Philippines. I know a lot of you right now are currently enjoying the daytime while some here in Asia are already in their deep slumber. Well others are nocturnals. Oh yeah, let’s talk about nocturnalism. I’m a nocturnal person. Due to some online work calls, I stay awake at night.

I bought some postcards today in replacement of the cards I’ve sent. One of the cards that amazed me is the Philippine eagle-owl.

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It looks like an eagle, but it’s not. This looks sweeter than the eagle I guess. An eagle is wild while the owl seemed to be harmless. Being nocturnal, the owl is awake at night to look for its prey. Its scientific name is  Bubo philippensis. When I was younger, around 5-10 years old, I oftentimes saw owls on the big acacia trees in our backyard. Unfortunately, the big trees were long been gone now and I can’t also see the owls anymore.

Our oldies usually associate the owls to the mythical creatures like vampires. They said the owls bring no luck to you when you see one, but I never believed. Owls are beautiful birds. In fact, I had a photo before at the zoo holding an owl. Just like any nocturnal organisms, the owls also help in the balance of the ecosystem.

Outgoing Cards: April 7th, ’15

Today I’ve sent five postcards and the theme is “dogs”. Three of these cards will set off to Russia, one will go to USA and the other to Czech Republic. I am a dog lover and I have collection of postcards on the different breeds of dogs. I specifically love large breed dogs, especially husky and labrador. Inspired by the hollywood movie “Marley”, I’m taking care of a lab at this time which was bought by my husband as a birthday present two years ago.

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On a separate theme on “elegant plants”, I also sent this stargazer lily card to a postcrosser in China. There are lots of species of Lily, but my most favorite is the Stargazer. It usually blooms in mid-summer. I am lucky to have some of this plant in our garden.

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It’s Garfield 15 Years Ago

I looked into my old cabinets where I kept important souvenirs and collectibles, and there I found this little garfield in the letter box. It was sent from a friend in December 2000. There was a simple note attached to it, too. She also personally drew garfield. It’s kind of cute, right?  I am not just a canine lover. I also like felines. They are good companions during the times of solitude.

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Australian-made Teaspoon: A Classic Collection

Look what I’ve got here. It’s a souvenir from a dear friend who went to visit some family members in Perth Australia. It’s a beautiful teaspoon engulfed in a small transparent glass box. (Sorry for the poor quality of the photo.)

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The end of the handle of the spoon is round-shaped with a mark saying “Norseman Western Australia. I have received other souvenirs from Australia (also from an australian friend in Perth), but this teaspoon from Charito is a personal favorite.

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By the way, I have been searching over the net who invented the spoon, but there was none. Whoever the great spoon inventor is, I must thank him. I can’t drink my soup direct from the bowl. I always need a spoon for that matter. It would have been better if his name had been passed down to the present generation.