How Cordillerans Showered Us with Random Acts of Kindness – Part 1

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EUDEN VALDEZ

AROUND the same time last year, I hiked my first summit: Mt. Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal. At 739 meters above sea level (MASL), it was classified as a minor climb yet I felt like my body would break from every step and slip that I took.

But not my spirit. I continued hiking other mountains and subjecting myself to physical pain while finding reward in the wealth of experiences that I gained along the way.

So that a year later after my first minor mountain, I found myself climbing my first major mountain, and not just that! The hike was part of RAK Ph Mountaineers’ first-ever, much-anticipated “The Great Cordillera Cross Country.” 

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Tara! Abra: Before Kaparkan Got Famous, There was This Waterfalls

TRUTH be told, the province of Abra has no organized tourism effort, as a whole or individually by its local government units except for one. This is Tineg, where Kaparkan Waterfalls is found. 

If you have seen trending photos of this unique, multi-tiered waterfalls over at Facebook, you’ll know why. But it wouldn’t even come to our attention if not for “Biyahe ni Drew,” a popular travel show by TV host Drew Arellano.

As someone who considers Abra as my other home—it is my father’s hometown—I believe this is good development. Other municipalities can replicate Tineg’s tourism, and maximize their natural hidden treasures for the better. In the long run, they can make it sustainable for both the locals and the environment. That’s what eco-tourism is all about.

One town I am hopeful about is San Isidro, which is just an hour away from the capital of Bangued. There lies the waterfalls of San Marcial (named from the sitio it is located) with its own personality and beauty.

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Tara! Abra: The Road Less Traveled to San Marcial Falls

WHEN something familiar turns into something unexpected, then one, unforgettable adventure is in store.

Traveling Journo Ph’s experienced this on its visit to Abra in September. Accompanied by my cousins residing in the Cordillera province, TJPh set forth to San Marcial Falls in the town of San Isidro.

San Isidro is located just southeast of San Quintin, the municipality where my paternal family hails. So our group of nine boarded our motorbikes—or habal-habal locally—confidently believing that would arrive at our destination within an hour of riding via entry on Pidigan.

Little did we know that we actually took the road less traveled to San Marcial Falls. It turned out to be a difficult yet exhilarating one.

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VIRTUAL TOUR: Beautiful, Mystical Mount Makiling

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

STRADDLING the provinces of Laguna and Batangas, Mt. Makiling is among the most renowned mountains of Luzon because of its unspoiled beautybelieved to be protected by its deity, Maria Makiling. 

The folklore of the Diwata of Makiling has been passed from generations upon generations of Filipino families. Even our National Hero Jose Rizal, who was born in Laguna province, penned a story about Maria, a most beautiful maiden to have set foot on earth.

Mt. Makiling is thus filled with tales of encounters with Maria. It is told that she appears before those with a golden heart, or sometimes, playfully teases those who does not believe in her. It is also believed that she unleashes fury through storms to those who dare harm her mountain its natural inhabitants.

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VIRTUAL TOUR: A Burial Place Like No Other in Nagcarlan

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

THE PHILIPPINES is a country of historical treasures—century old churches, ancestral houses, olden town centers and cultural establishments, among many others.

In Nagarcalan, Laguna, a prized historical landmark lies under the ground, silently and solemnly for it is a resting place for the dead.

Ordered built in 1845 by Franciscan Fr. Vicente Velloc, the Nagcarlan Undergound Cemetery is an octagonal enclave of stone and brick walls with wrought iron windows. A total of 276 are buried, of which 36 are located in an underground crypt.

Traveling Journo Ph saw firsthand this unique structure that has once been the chosen burial place of Nagcarlan’s privileged people. Today, it serves as a tourist destination for visitors of the hilly town south of Metro Manila.

Look at the photos of and know more about the underground cemetery below.

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VIRTUAL TOUR: A National Artist’s Home at the Philippines’ Arts Capital

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

THE municipality of Angono in Rizal is considered the Arts Capital of the Philippines, and as such, is home to many Filipino artists—young and old, living and departed, aspiring and flourishing.

Among its long list of artists, Carlos “Botong” Francisco (1912-1969) remains to be the most celebrated painter. In 1973, he was posthumously named a National Artist, which is the highest honor the Philippine government bestows to Filipino artists.

“Carlos “Botong” Francisco, the poet of Angono, single-handedly revived the forgotten art of mural and remained its most distinguished practitioner for nearly three decades. In panels such as those that grace the City Hall of Manila, Francisco turned fragments of the historic past into vivid records of the legendary courage of the ancestors of his race,” writes the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the state institution that oversees the National Artist Award.

That is why when visiting the quaint and little Rizal town, it is a must to familiarize oneself with Botong Francisco, and enrich one’s knowledge on Philippine culture and arts.

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Why Cagraray Island is Bicol’s Underrated Paradise

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

BICOL Region is a favorite among Pinoy beach lovers for its two beautiful islands: Caramoan of Camarines Sur and Calaguas of Camarines Norte. But there is another beach paradise that is still under their radar.

This is Cagraray Island in Albay, which is home to Misibis Bay, a high-end resort offering a unique balance of luxury and adventure for all its guests.

A media familiarization trip by the Department of Tourism in 2016 brought Traveling Journo Ph to the premier property and experience paradise.

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VIRTUAL TOUR: Inside Angono’s Blanco Family Museum

Texts and Photos by Euden Valdez

THE first thing you will notice upon entering Angono’s famed Blanco Family Museum is its symbol—a bright orange carp that is peculiarly upside down. It will make you ask, “What is the meaning behind this upside down fish?”

The answer is simple yet true to Blanco Family. Museum curator Michael Blanco tells Traveling Journo Ph that the symbolpays homage to his great grandfather Juan, a fisherman who was short, stout and bald. When resting in his boat at the shore of Laguna de Bay, he resembled a bloated dead fish locally called the bunggan.

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Angono is More than Just the Philippines’ Art Capital

Text and Photos by Euden Valdez

IT can be observed that in the Philippines, modernization and industrialization are creeping in even in the countryside. What were once farming and fishing villages are now developing cities and municipalities.

Take for example Angono in Rizal. This quaint, little town facing the massive Laguna de Bay is now a first class municipality thanks to trade and commerce. It has indeed come a long way from being a barrio of neighboring Binangongan.

But despite its progress, its people keep true to their agricultural roots and they do so in colorful canvasses, beautiful music, giant sculptures, and other forms of art.

Angono, after all, is the “Art Capital of the Philippines.”

This Traveling Journo Ph discovered and so much more in a visit on April 28 and 29.  

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