TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ
IT was barely two weeks before the set dates and we at RAK Ph Mountaineers were still deciding on a destination to climb—this after months of trying but failing to form a team for a major climb.
It had to be something easy, something we can accomplish in a weekend. Yet it had to be in the Cordilleras, home to our most loved mountains in Northern Luzon.
It had to be a “chill climb”and Mts. Kupapey and Fato in Brgy. Maligcong, Bontoc town in Mountain Province fit the bill. We would sidetrip to the community’s Maligcong Rice Terraces too.
Five from RAK Ph Mountaineers, including this author, signed up. But by this time, we were already scrambling to find a place to stay especially because camping on the twin mountains was not allowed by the community. Homestay was the only option. We were turned down by two homeowners whose rooms were already full.
This meant two things: A lot of tourists were hiking on the same dates as ours, and that we may end up cancelling our own hike if we won’t be able to secure a homestay.
And then there was Dong-Elay’s Homestay. It wasn’t as popular as the first two that we inquired from, so we thought it may just be a regular-looking homestay. In the few photos available on the internet, it looked cozy enough with wood interiors. We were sold yet we didn’t raise our expectations so high.
Dong-Elay’s went over and beyond our expectations.
Opened only in 2016—the time when local tourists actually started coming in droves at Maligcong for its mountains and rice terraces—Dong-Elay’s still looks clean and fresh, and most importantly, homey and welcoming.
The ground floor had a modern interior with native touches like the wooden furniture, the fireplace, and old tools for farming and hunting. The terrace was open and had a bougainvillea crawling to the gate’s arc. It was already blossoming adding a splash of color to the place.
More importantly, Dong-Elay’s was cozy because of the hospitality of its owner, Ate Denya. She patiently waited for our arrival after a long journey and served as lunch, which she personally cooked.
She gave our group the attic room, which was all wood from the interior to the furniture. We really liked it there, and slept comfortably for the night, albeit short because we would trek at dawn the next day.
Before sleeping, Ate Denya also allowed us to cook our own dinner, which was shabu-shabu, right at her own terrace.
We really spent our time at Dong and Elay’s like it was our own home, using the kitchen, sleeping at the sala, and just being ourselves. We were lucky we were the only group to billet on our dates, expect for a solo traveler whom we befriended and adopted into our group.
If you’re headed for hiking and sightseeing to Brgy. Maligcong, choose Dong-Elay’s. And for P350 per head per night, it’s a real steal!
TRIVIA: Dong-Elay’s are not the names of the children of Ate Denya. It’s a title of an Igorot song.
Contact Dong-Elay’s now via 0935-3131724, or visit it’s Facebook page.