Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Cordillera mountains

How great would be the desire in every admirer of nature to behold, if such were possible, the scenery of another planet! – Charles Darwin (1809-1882).
That possibility is getting towards probability but is still a ways off, maybe in a couple of lifetimes. So for the time being let's look at and look after our own planet. When we do look and really see what we've got, we treasure it more. 

The scenery of the Cordillera mountains is second to none and I retreat to my mountain home every few years. I feel I have to. The world is one’s oyster and one must seize the day, but to paraphrase a travel writer:
There is a powerful solace in mountains. They challenge our notion that the world was made for us. Mountains induce a modesty in us.
A distant mountain appears to hold mysteries. 
But when you climb a mountain, you solve a mystery.

Looking east over Ifugao from Mt Polis at sunrise in summertime.
I roamed and rambled in Ifugao in years past.

An added adornment to the mountains is the green ricefields. This photo from Barlig exhibits a good balance of forest and field, sustaining the environment.
Roads have long reached the high mountains. All that's required perhaps is a little better management, to counter erosion and scarring of the mountainsides.

Natonin kids at play under the watchful silhouette of the range.
The mountains are rugged and rough and inhospitable. 
Yes all that and more, but it is home.
Departing town I looked back at the high mountains. The mountains waved at me.
They seemed to say 'come again' as I descended to the lower hills in Paracelis below.

The mountains of Kalinga
Above photo is looking at Mt Binuluan from the Lubuagan side. 
Below is the Pasil river valley

The mountains too provide other resources, such as tiger grass, that supplement the family income.

The mountain range across the Pasil river opposite Mt Binuluan. Beyond this range, to the north, is Apayao.
My budget did not cover the double A provinces (Apayao and Abra) but will visit them someday.
The profile of sleeping beauty in Tinglayan to the south, overlooks Lubuagan. 
I kept gazing at the mountains for the rest of my journey through Kalinga and then Sadanga and Bontoc.  
This continued on the mountain trail through Mountain Province and into Benguet.

Southerly I ventured, to the high peaks of Tuba: Mt Kabuyao and Mt Sto Tomas.

I also toured the jungles of Baguio and La Trinidad - from a safe distance.
Below is the salad bowl or flower pot of Luzon - Trinidad valley.

I escaped from the big smoke, and went to the Applaicha Mountains. Mt Tinangdanan in Besao
The average height of the appalachian mountains in North America (abt 1000m) falls short of the height of the mountains here in Applai land (ave abt 1500-1600m). But that's like comparing apples to gayunan or ponkan.
Besao and Mt Mogao.

After bolakboling (invadfajoy) for days, I made it to my father's home with just the shirt on my back. I had run out of money for commuting but I had unfinished business. So I put on my restless boots and went hiking.
For the Mainit mountains beckoned.

The original camp aguinaldo. Mt Bandilaan in Mainit (also referred to as Mt Mengmeng). This may or may not be the spot where aguinaldo encamped while escaping from the americans back in 1899-1900. However Aguinaldo did plant the Filipino flag here on this mountain in defiance of the pursuing americans. Since then, the I-Mainit have called it Bandilaan.
But historical tidbits aside, Mt Bandilaan and its near neighbour Mt Paras, offer the perfect spot for a tour of the Cordillera mountains. From these two peaks, one can pretty much complete a 360-degree tour of the significant mountains in the Cordillera.
Bandilaan (Mt Mengmeng) as seen from Mt Paras. Mt Kaman-ingel in Besao is shrouded in clouds at left.

On the south, the hills of Bangnen at bottom and Mt Singakalsa in Atok in the far background, frame the barely visible and nearly dry Inudey falls flowing down from Mt Data.
Zooming out - Mt Data with a little cloud cover, is just at left of picture.
Singakalsa and Inudey in the middle.

To the east, middle of the far range is the Mt Polis gap. In the middle range is Mt Chakkang in Mainit/Guina-ang, and Mt Pokis (Bontoc); Mt Patoc (towards Maligcong) is just off the picture. At bottom of picture, the near range in Mainit is Mt Amungao and climbing north (to left of picture) through Puklis to the peaks in Serkan and Tongil.

Guina-ang is more visible.

The magical lake livo-o, and Mt Kalawitan in Sabangan.

Mt Amuyao in Barlig.

Amuyao above.
Words are very inadequate to describe the wonders of the mountains. 
Kalawitan below.

Again words fail...
But this is a far sight better view of Kalawitan from Bandilaan, than the near site view from the halsema.

Views to the western Mainit mountain range towards Abra. Looking in the direction of Baklingayan in Tubo beyond the range, are Mainit nameplaces: Pangor-osan, Sanangena, Amvanggao, Nakanga etcetera.

Tinmovo and U-uwayan above are in the catchment of the headwaters of the Pasil river.
The river flows north to Kalinga behind the near mountain below.

Looking north towards Pinasek and beyond to Kalinga and peeking at Mt Alchanon (or Mt Alchan).

From the Maligcong-Guina-ang trail: Mt Pukis with Kalawitan near top-left at rear.

From atop Mt Pukis between Bontoc and Guina-ang and overlooking Tetep-an Killong and Antadao. In the background is Mt Ampacao in Sagada and Mt Mogao in Besao.

Here's a familiar sight on the main highway in Pampanga.
It was night when my bus drove past, so on the flight out to a distant land to earn a living, 
I organised a fly past with the pilot.
Mountains are not for satisfying ambition. They’re for rebirth and reinvigoration. Anatoli Boukreev (paraphrasing mine).