Blogs from Cordillera, Philippines, Asia


Asia » Philippines » Cordillera March 8th 2019

It had been a tough journey, yet here I was in the remote village of Buscalan in the North Philippine Mountains, about to receive a tribal tattoo from a young woman under the tutelage of the 102 year old living legend, Whang Od. I had heard about this remarkable elder, the last of the “mambabatok”, traditional tattoo artists who use citrus thorns and natural charcoal the way their headhunting ancestors had for 1000 years. On a recent 3 week walkabout in this glorious country, I trekked beautiful Mount Apo in Mindanao, hitchhiked and took buses across Samar, Bicol and Catanduanes provinces. While traveling, I learned of the legend of this woman Whang Od from numerous people and wondered if somehow I could meet her. It was a shot in the dark but with 5 days left ... read more

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera » Bontoc April 8th 2017

8 avril (Toujours à Sagada) Je quitte rapidement le nid à backpacker de bonne heure ce matin. Je devais prendre le bus pour Baguio aujourd'hui mais j'ai apprit hier soir tard, entre deux bières "Red Horse" au karaoke de l'hostel, qu'un festival annuel doit avoir lieu aujourd'hui même à Bontoc. C'est un 45 minutes de route qui sépare Sagada de Bontoc, la capitale de la Mountain Province de Luçon. L'excursion en vaudra certainement la peine: le Festival Lang-ay célèbre la diversité folklorique des tribus montagnardes des régions environnantes. Le voyage nous réserve parfois des surprises. Il faut apprendre à se laisser guider par les événements ponctuels. "Bontoc?" que je demande à une casquette qui expire la fumée d'une demie clope, accoté sur un jeepney orange et bleu qui crache sale du diesel. C'est le moyen de ... read more
Fruits du marché

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera » Bontoc December 31st 2013

Mainit produced the type of unforgettable magic that keeps travelers like us, hooked. We were only in Mainit for maybe 16 hours, but it was enough time for an incredible string of luck to unfold, and to take in the other worldly beauty and mystery of this tiny mountain village. We'd end up having one of the best adventures of the trip (and our lives) in Mainit. We almost ended up homeless for the night, were invited to a traditional wedding in the village square, and went for an early morning walk through the village footpaths while steam from the hot springs rose up all around us. It was extraordinary. Here's the whole story: It was time to leave Baguio. It was definitely a bummer that we didn't get to meet Vanessa's sister in-law's family, but ... read more
The Whole Village is Out for the Wedding
Traditional Wedding Dance
The Crowd is Packed in

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera » Sagada December 18th 2010

Our thirst for adventure brought us to the Sumaging and Lumiang caves in Sagada. Once we entered there was no turning back! We spent 3 hours "rock climbing" in bare feet over stalagmites and stalactites. The sound of water trickling underground and the squeaking of a thousand bats made this adventure heart racing and worth every moment.... read more
Cave entrance
Coffin within the cave entrance. In Igorat, the lizard symbolizes long and healthy life.
Starting our three hour Cave Connection adventure..I wish someone told us it was really underground rock climbing

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera December 18th 2010

Good-bye beach, ocean and coastal sun...hello cool, crisp mountains! One flight to North Luzon and a 9 hour bus ride later, we arrived in the stunning Cordillera Mountain Range. Our first stop was Kabayan, home to the Ifugao hill tribe people. Nestled at the base of Mt. Timbac (~2400m above sea level) and surrounded by picturesque mountain peaks, we began our 6 hour climb up Mt. Timbac to come face-to-face with 200 year old mummies! Between the grueling hike and pristine conditions of the mummies, we were in a state of aw. The mummification process used by the Ifugao is like none other in the world. The process begins as the person draws in their last breath or directly at the time of death. They are bound in a seated position on a wooden chair that ... read more
Picture time!!
Looking out to the mountains from Kabayan
Kabayan Valley

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera November 25th 2010

Le hasard (mais existe-t-il vraiment ?) m'a fait recroiser un CS de Beijing qui me croyant aerophile m'a appris en dix secondes comment voler pas cher jusqu'aux Philippines. Ca m'apprendra a lui rire au nez en lui declarant mon mepris pour la chose volante, toujours est-il que grace a lui j'arrive a Clark, pres d'Angeles, pas mal au nord de Manille ce qui tombe plutot bien parce que je n'ai pas vraiment prevu d'aller y trainer mes guetres. En sortant de l'aeroport je musarde, avise un stand de nourriture locale et en decouvrant le gout du Philippin pour le vinaigre, la friture et le piment j'apprends que faire du stop sera impossible. J'ai repere sur un depliant touristique consulte a la volee a l'aeroport qu'une ville s'appelle Baguio ; qu'y a-t-il a Baguio c'est ce que ... read more
Here they have tasty and locally-grown coffee...
I don't really agree, but if you say so...
Jeepneys parading

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera December 7th 2009

We'd read about the tiny village of Kabayan in LP and were both intrigued with the mummies in caves so decided that a side trip there to do a trek would be well worth the journey. The rickety old bus ride there along roads that were quite honestly plain scary made us have some doubts but we made it there fine and we were just glad we wouldn't be going back the same way! Kabayan is a tiny little village with one guesthouse so finding a room wasn't a problem at all, our plan was to stay there one night then make the 6 hour trek up the mountain to the site of the mummies before circling back to the highway to catch a bus back to Baguio. Doing this was a piece of cake as ... read more
Sign to the caves!
Albert our guide unwrapping the mummy

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera » Sagada December 4th 2009

We got to Sagada on an hour long jeepney trip from Bontoc which snaked up and up into the mountains and cloud with it growing ever colder as we went. The last time we'd really needed our fleeces & hats was at Mt Bromo a few months ago back and could easily count on one hand the number of times we'd needed them in our year in Asia. This time we were very glad we'd kept hold of them as they were very needed up here after getting a little too used to the Asian climate! People rave about Sagada and some travellers stay for weeks and weeks but when we arrived we really couldn't see what all the fuss was about. It was really low cloud so we couldn't really see much past the small ... read more
Us on a rock formation
Philip, Chris & Us
Sophie and her birthday breakfast

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera December 5th 2008

I hesitated over whether or not I would write a blog entry about Canada's current political situation. I have a lot of opinions about what has gone on on Parliament Hill this year, and of course since the election in October. But I have decided, at least for now, not to write them out, mostly, because I don't want to get myself all rilled up again by writing all of my anger and frustration down. There is just one thing that I will say. Canadians don't like leaders who are nice guys. That, above all other things, I think has been made evident in the last 2 months. Good guys get a really bad shake in the race to be Prime Minister. I say this because that is what I see happening to Stephane Dion. I, ... read more

Asia » Philippines » Cordillera November 25th 2008

Dear Friends, As we further the search for our missing colleague, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) founding member and indigenous leader James Moy Balao, the CPA, along with the Balao family and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), again appeal for your support by joining us in an International Day of Action to Surface James Moy Balao on November 28, 2008. This day marks the 72nd day of James’ disappearance while November 29 is the International Day of Human Rights Defenders. As advocates and defenders of human rights, let us take action on the said dates by paying tribute to human rights defenders around the world, and seek justice for the victims of human rights violations and enforced disappearances such as James Balao. The International Day of Action involves primarily the simultaneous sending of letters of concern ... read more

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