Friday, January 15, 2016

Bontoc Map V3: Based on Google Map

© 2016 Oggie Ramos •
I had comments from the local tourism office that the mural from which I based the earlier iterations of the Bontoc Art map I did not exactly follow the real lay of the land, so to speak. So I did the next best thing and based this map on Google Map. I added and subtracted some elements from the earlier art maps I did so as to render the most accurate picture I can at the moment. 

Again, I hope the map helps visitors explore more of Bontoc not just a side trip to Banaue but on its own merits. The size uploaded is good enough for viewing in big tablets and smartphone screens. Usage for personal use is encouraged; piracy and alteration is not. Please respect copyrights.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Maligcong, Bontoc: Of Green Holidays, Dog Tales, and Fresh Hopes

Lagalog with Kunig (or should it be dog with Lagalog?) admiring the foggy Favarey landscape
"You should come this December.  The lettuce would be ready for harvesting."

That's the text message of Suzette, owner of the Maligcong Homestay when I told her I just may be able to spend the December holidays in the highlands, away from the city's added dose of pollution come new year's eve.  So what's the big deal about fresh lettuce, right?

Well, sometime this year, I sent Suzette some packets of veggie seeds for her garden  (aside from being a self-professed dog charmer, I'm also into gardening).  During the leaner times I visited, we would trade gardening insights. I just thought it would be swell to eventually see an organic garden there where the veggies can be harvested for serving to guests.  You see, she has quite a bit of space available for growing some of her food.

A bit of explanation about the soil condition is in order.  Not because this is a mountainous area, it follows that the soil here is ideal for growing just about anything.  On the contrary, the soil here is mostly vertisol, muddy when wet during the monsoon season, brick-hard when baked by the sun during the summer months.  Needless to say, the soil needs amending to increase productivity.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Maligcong for the Holidays: Hoppin', Huffin', Hopin' High in the Highlands

Huff.  Puff.  Huff.  Puff.

That was me last year on new year's eve, huffing and puffing in the revelry's sooty air.  I haven't been diagnosed but I suspect I may already have asthma.  During that episode, I made up my mind to spend the next new year's eve far away from the pyrotechnics' smoke that penetrates closed windows, flows unimpeded into air conditioner filters and clog nostrils, nasal passages and lungs.

Well, I still huffed and puffed on the first day of the new year, this time on the long but gentle trail up Mt. Fato in Maligcong, Bontoc. Last time we were here two months ago, we led a contingent of Backpack Photographers, letting them have their vantage points instead of shooting.  We were given a two day window of sunny weather then; on this day, it is chilly, foggy, and intermittently rainy.

My adopted dog, Kunig, was furiously scratching the door when we left Suzette's Homestay at 4am, trapped and locked up inside the kitchen where he hid during the holiday hubbub as revelers lit up firecrackers and made noise to welcome the new year.  We regrettably had to leave him behind.  Instead, we had Nelay, our guide Terence's friendly if skittish young canine to walk us up the mountain.  It rained on and off the previous two days, the weather pushing the mercury down from 14 degree afternoons to 10.5 early mornings.  Out here, it was even colder as there was the wind chill factor as well as the thousand feet rise in elevation.  If the past two days were two-blanket cool, this day on the mountain was shivering-dog-cold.  Nelay would alternately run around the viewpoint to stay warm and shake and shiver out in the open.  It didn't take long for her to figure out that curling up in between the large limestone boulders is a better idea to keep warm.  Well, that and fueling up on my trail food.


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