“The trip to Banaue, Ifugao from Sagada, Mt. Province takes about one and one half to two hours. We have to ride a bus then transfer to another bus or jeep in another place called Bontoc. The problem is, I don’t know where is that place nor bus terminal there or what time is the last trip for Ifugao. We may have to stay in Bontoc overnight if we wont make it to the last trip! Are we still going to Ifugao now?” I asked Joy. “We are here in Mt. Province already, we might as well maximize our vacation by seeing the terraces now or regret forever we lost an opportunity to do so” Joy replied. So off we go.
If I was “scared” by the road to Sagada from Baguio city, the road from Sagada to Bontoc (and Bontoc to Ifugao) is even more scary for me. The terrific sight of rice terraces along the mountain slope, is best viewed unobstructed while riding on top of a jeepney.”No!” I protested. “I’m not sitting on the roof top and die of fear. It’s not for me” I told joy. That harrowing accident of a jeep falling into a cliff we passed by before wont just get away from my mind! So we settled for the front seat, the second best viewing seat, and probably the second most dangerous too. My fears were unfounded of course and except for the occasional “drop zones”- roadside cliffs where all you can see are tree tops instead of the bottomless pit- the view we saw roadside were nothing but “astounding“!
We arrived late for Bontoc’s previous trip of jeepney bound for for Ifugao. The next (and last) trip will be in a couple of hours. “Ano ba meron sa Bontoc for us to see?” This I unwittingly askedJoy, which she passed on to a tricyle driver. “We have terraces here in the next village, but there is the Bontoc Museum you can visit if you want to know more of our heritage.” The driver answered. Wasting no time, we headed for the Bontoc Museum to learn more about this bustling place while waiting for our ride.
Some 45 minutes east of Sagada, Bontoc is the center of trade in Mt. Province. Concrete buildings, paved roads, noisy market and even ATMs are already in Bontoc! Interestingly, one can always compare Bontoc with Baguio during its early years! We named it “the old Baguio City”
Bontoc Museum is perhaps one of the more organized and well preserved cultural museum I visited lately. The rich cultural history of Bontoc and all its tribes is well documented here. They even have a “garden” of Bontoc religious, social and tribal community housed just beside the museum!
The backdrop of concrete buildings just outside the exhibits fences and the American styled house near its gates seem rather anti-thematic and peculiar though. “Perhaps a reflection of whats really invading the rich cultural heritage of Bontoc don’t you think?” jokingly asking Joy. “Ambot sa imo oc-oc ka guid! Kuha lang bala picture!” Joy quipped.
When were done taking pictures outside these huts and “Bontoc community” we headed back to the terminal and ate snacks while waiting for the jeep to go. It’s almost 1 PM when left on board a jeep, sitting front seats (again) and merrily interviewed the “game” driver on our way to Ifugago. The trip made me and Joy continuously and frantically holding to dashboard and side rails while “glueing” our eyes on the spectacular sights roadside! But that, is the story of my next post!