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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ammung na Paracelis

Paracelis is the easternmost town of Mountain Province. The municipality is bounded on the west by Natonin, and by the provinces of Ifugao, Isabela and Kalinga on the south, east and north respectively. It was formerly a barangay, but was created as a municipality due to its remoteness from Natonin. First called Paracale, it was renamed Paracelis in 1966. 
The 'paracale' mayor or 'spokesperson' put up a welcome sign.

I got to Paracelis on the final day of their Ammung on 25th April 2012. All the native dancing had finished.
(Perhaps they should hold municipal fiestas in sequence, not at the same time. Officials can also look at shortening these to two or three days at most. A festival season in summer time in Mountain Province can be held from February onwards. The various towns can take turns holding festivals. Then there will be a festival every week for a 10-week period to culminate at the Lang-ay in Bontoc. Barangay fiestas may also be held in between. That's just me thinking out loud, but wouldn't tourists love that.)
I run a bit, and I heard that there's a race in Paracelis. Paracelisians are comprised of three main ethno-linguistic groups: the Balangao Gaddang, and Kalingas. These peoples speak Ilocano, Kalinga, Gaddang and various other local dialects in this town of more than 100 sitios (hamlets) in nine main barangays (villages). 

The municipal government is in Daggawe (Poblacion). It houses all the local government units. I went to visit the municipal hall, but some basketball game was going on. My plans were thwarted yet again. Sport is an integral part of festival activities.
Clusters of small businesses such as sari-sari stores, vegetable stalls, food and other commodities outlets, are found within the central business area. These sell groceries, hardware, housing merchandise, agricultural supplies, etc.

Two-wheels,

three-wheels,

or four. Have wheels will travel.

Farm to market transport.

Situated on the lower foothills (about 200-250m) of the ranges abutting Natonin, Paracelis is much warmer than the mountain towns of Barlig and Natonin. The warmest times are during April when it holds its annual festival. The municipal fiesta aims to attract tourists and features dances and other cultural activities participated in by all the barangays.
A relieving activity is a practical way of dousing fire.

Getting sacks of grain ready for drying.

During the summer months (March to May), national roads are used for drying grains such as rice and corn. Vehicles keep to the free lane, but during busy times help turn the grain. 
And it's not surprising to find the odd pebble or small piece of car tyre rubber in the dinner plate of rice.
The soil types of large portions of Paracelis are the various clay loam and sandy loam that are ideal for farming. Grown here are crops and grains and cereals, vegetables and fruits, root crops, coffee, tobacco and nuts. However, conversion of huge tracts of forested rolling hills into farmlands is making the already severe soil erosion worse. 


A watchtower of a bus stop.
Farms, pasturelands and potential hydro-power projects pose more threats to the thinning vegetation cover of Paracelis which consists primarily of dipterocarps. Mossy forests have all disappeared.
The drying season goes on and on.



What do you do when you come to a fork in the road?
"at the parting of the way, ...he consults the teraphim, he inspects the liver"

A couple of micro and mini-hydro power projects are mooted for the rivers flowing past Paracelis. The bigger Siffu river originates at the Kadaclan River in Barlig. It flows through Natonin as the Saliok river and then through Paracelis (Paracelis river), and then through to Isabela where it joins the Cagayan river. Up in the mountains at the northwest of town is the village of Maducayan in Natonin. Apparently plans have been finalised and start-up activites are ongoing for a micro-hydro power project there. It is hoped the I-Natonin were consulted, the pig's liver inspected, and the river respected.

The race in Paracelis is not a running event after all, but I enjoyed meeting and mingling with my fellow race of people there. There is a natural hot spring around here which I wanted to see, but it can wait. Maybe when its geysers spurt again. If it's still there. For now I wish I had a rocking chair, so I can watch time flow - whispering past the wisping of my hair...