Saturday, December 15, 2018

Birding in Maligcong: Migration Season and Lucky Finds

Island thrush spotted in Mt Kupapey summit, Nov 2018 • © Oggie Ramos
We really wanted to get started on birding in Baguio, spending the second morning of our two days stopover enroute to Bontoc and Banaue but fate had other ideas.  My Nikon B700's battery discharged itself overnight and I didn't have a spare.  We saw birds on the Eco-Trail in Camp John Hay but got no pictures.  I even saw an olive-backed pipit high up on a tree but even after repeated charging using my buddy's powerbank, my Nikon kept turning itself off.   So much for expecting a find or two following a reading of Maia TaƱedo's blogpost on her visit here four years ago.  But they say that when a door closes, a window opens.  And open it did a day after heading to Maligcong, Bontoc.  

I was actually contemplating on sleeping the morning away instead of hiking up Mt. Kupapey but decided to join my friend, Ironwulf, to go up the mountain for the nth time, perchance to shoot the sunrise (no sea of clouds that morning) but we lingered until 8am, just enjoying the peace and quiet, as well as keeping our ears peeled for the birds.  We traded the B700 back and forth between us (Ferdz was luckier than me in spotting the small birds that favor the higher branches of the pines on the mountain summit) but I guess when luck decides to search for you, it leads to a series of really fortunate events.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Banaue Museum of Cordillera Heritage: Of Supernatural and Other Tales

Trail and shaman staffs
We came to Bissang, Tam-an, in Banaue, Ifugao under driving rain and darkening skies.  Eventually finding our way to the Banaue DDD Heritage Inn, we look up to the Museum of Cordillera Heritage just adjacent to it, shrouded in bromeliads, palms, shrubs and more bromeliad, looking mysterious.  On the side window, we espied bulols, rice god statues, seeming to descend down the stairway.  Must be an overactive imagination, you might say. 

Museums like these, though, hold a special fascination for me on more levels than the obvious.   On the physical side, the objects on display are concrete evidence of a way of life lived and maybe lost forever.  On a metaphysical aspect, I feel the energies of these relics.  There's something about old museums that heightens one's senses, more so the ones outside the realm of what can be seen, smelled, touched, heard, and felt.  

Our guide, longtime caretaker, Fe Ida, gave us the better half of one morning to explore two floors of Cordillera heritage, over a thousand pieces and growing.  A transplant from Leyte, Fe has overseen the inn and museum for the past 27 years, growing a family and losing some members (her hubby passed away a few years ago while a son migrated to Baguio with his own family).  She transitioned seamlessly from the former owner, an American octogenarian who has repatriated to Canada, to its current owner, Atty. Dominador Buhain, the patriarch of the Rex Bookstore empire, himself an avid traveler and collector.  Atty. Buhain's museum of Cordillera pieces in the Book cum Ethnology Museum in Marikina is, in itself, a priceless collection that deserves more renown and patronage.

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