Tinglayan, Kalinga: On The Banks of the Chico River
The mystic mountains of Cordillera possess a captivating charm that fascinates those who have witnessed its bare magnificence. An enchanting Eden that binds a spell which would pull you back to higher heights and deep down into its valleys. A year has passed since I first sat foot high above the Cordillera mountains and still I ponder what lies beyond Ifugao and its massive terraces. This was my journey into an unfamiliar realm beginning with an old settlement beside the Chico River called Luplupa of Tinglayan, Kalinga.
Mini-bus bound for Bontoc.
Loading people and cargo bound for Bontoc and everywhere in between.
Twelve hours on a night bus from Manila to Kalinga’s provincial capital, Tabuk City, doesn’t seem quite that far since I fell in slumber most of the trip. But taking on another 4 hours from Tabuk City passing by on bumpy cliff side dirt road to the town of Tinglayan was yet another thing – not to mention the 2-hour waiting period in between. By far, this trip marked the longest land travel my entire life, nevertheless, the road to Tinglayan promises an awe-inspiring view – the bus ride itself was a destination.
Directions to Luplupa Riverside Inn.
Hanging bridge that connects Baranggay Luplupa to Tinglayan Poblacion town proper.
Few hundred meters from Tinglayan’s town proper, Poblacion, on the opposite bank of the mighty Chico River lies the baranggay of Luplupa, whereonly a wobbly pedestrian hanging bridge linked the quaint riverside village to the main highway. The bridge’s wobbliness didn’t stop me from pausing halfway across to stare at the lovely scenery 360 degrees (no exaggeration).
A lady removing dirt from harvested rice.
Luplupa Riverside Inn
Situated deep into a labyrinth of steep staircases and narrow passageways was a two-floor hostel called Luplupa Riverside Inn. Finding the lodge might pose a challenge at first but with the help of the friendly locals, it’s a walk in the park.
Riverside Inn’s room was pretty basic but more than enough.
I love rooms with shelves or cabinets.
Only a single bed, a wooden chair, a shelf, and a large window filled the box-typed room, pretty basic but more than enough for a P250.00/head lodging. Don’t bother looking for an electric fan or air conditioning unit for it gets quite chilly at night.
Map of Tinglayan etched on Luplupa Riverside Inn’s wall.
A storage house for harvested rice in Old Tinglayan rice terraces.
Stairs leading to Brgy. Old Tinglayan.
Kid carrying a bamboo marches on the rice paddies.
Chico River bound Luplupa on its west while high altitude mountain ranges, including the so-called, “Sleeping Beauty“, walled the the village on its east. Multi-layered rice field clusters namely, Luplupa, Old Tinglayan, and Ambato Legleg, were built on mountain slopes and intertwined by footpaths about 12 inches wide so be extra careful especially during rainy days.
Rice field ready for harvest.
Trekking Luplupa rice field cluster.
A fence marked the boundaries of a rice field.
Foot trails on the edges of rice fields.
From the rice fields up above the mountains, we headed down the banks of Rio Chico de Cagayan, or commonly known as the Chico River. Many villages and settlements in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) have relied in the so-called “river of life” which runs all the way from the Mountain Province towards the Cagayan River before it heads out to open sea. For many years, the Chico River played a significant role in the Cordilleras.
Late afternoon on the banks of Chico River.
Rocks and boulders on the banks of Chico River.
A misty morning in Tinglayan, Kalinga.
Just about sunrise in Chico River.
The gigantic Cordillera mountains barred the landlocked province of Kalinga from the urbanization knocking on our doors. The treacherous roads carved on mountain slopes slowed down the pace of fast growing modernization. Life here may not be easy but was much simple compared to ours in the city. It is free from all the complications that have corrupted man’s way of living. The balance between man and nature thrives in these valleys. The barricades that kept development in this far-flung region, were also the protectors of the Eden in this realm.
Taking a break from hiking.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Getting to Luplupa in Tinglayan, Kalinga: Take the Victory Liner Bus in Kamias which goes to the provincial capital, Tabuk City. Then take a mini-bus or jeep bound for Bontoc or Tinglayan.
2. There are three (3) trips plying the Kamias-Tabuk City route, 7:00 PM, 7:25 PM (deluxe), and. 8:45 PM (Tabuk/Bulanao). The buses gets quite filled so be there early to secure tickets.
3. Bus fare:
P569.00 – Regular air-conditioned buses
P680.00 – Deluxe
4. Trip would take about 10-11 hours.
5. Mini-bus from Tabuk City (Bulanao) to Bontoc, or Tabuk City (Bulanao) to Tinglayan. Trip would take 4 hours. P120.00
6. OPTION B (I haven’t tried this, though): Take the Cable Tour Bus to Bontoc, then a mini-bus or jeep bound for Tinglayan or Tabuk City.
7. To get to Luplupa Riverside Inn: Cross the hanging bridge, then follow the path to the right passing by the local school. Take the stairs, and you’ll see a signage, “Luplupa Riverside Inn Office”
8. They charge on a “per head” basis which cost, P250.00 per person. Since it was the low season, no one else were there, we had our own rooms for P250.00.
9. They serve food for P100.00 per meal, but you could bring your own food, cook your own food maybe, or ask them to cook the food you brought.
10. If you’re looking for a guide to Buscalan, look for Victor Baculi a.k.a. Chupper in Luplupa Village. He’s a pioneer in Kalinga tour guiding. He doesn’t have a cellphone though. If he’s not available, maybe his sons or relatives could take you to Buscalan, or Butbut. You could also look for our guide, Kuya Amfat, he’s the cousin of Luplupa Riverside Inn’s caretaker.
11. When someone invites you for coffee in their homes, don’t hesitate. I think it’s a gesture of welcoming visitors, not only in Luplupa, but in the Cordillera Region. I’ve experience it a lot during this journey.
12. Read more about this 7-day Backpacking Trip in Cordillera
13. More about Kalinga.
12. Please LIKE Biyaherong Barat on Facebook.
13. Follow @BiyaherongBarat on Twitter.
14. Thank you to all the Baculi family and their friends we’ve made during our overnight stay. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the local villagers who invited us to their homes, shared their food, drank with them, and even invited us to a once-in-a-life time event for the tribes called the peace pact. It’s a pretty important event that I’ve missed due to our schedule. But it was truly an honor for inviting outsiders like us to join the fun.
15. Happy travels everyone, and always be safe.