|Sleeping Beauty waking up on a foggy morning|
Well, I asked God for a sign to proceed (signs, actually) -- if the weather would improve just a little bit enough to make the bus trip to Tabuk and if Kalinga guide, Francis Pa-in, will respond on a very short notice. I got both -- the floods subsided after three days and Francis replied via text to say the good weather in Kalinga is holding. Funny when you let the heavens and fate decide, you simply run out of excuses not to proceed.
|Fully-loaded Tinglayan and Bontoc-bound transport|
Arriving at the Sleeping Beauty Inn way past lunchtime and meeting Francis, we decided to defer leaving town until the next day to catch up on sleep; it was a bit late in the day to venture out of town anyway. The inn, owned by the former mayor, is a curiosity for me with its empty pool, spacious hall, and a main dining area that looks out to the the Sleeping Beauty mountain range. Our double room has a window that opens up to a shed with clucking chickens, waddling ducks, snorting pigs, and farther out, the rumbling Chico River.
|Portion of Chico River that runs at the back of the inn|
Almost four decades ago, the government of president Marcos came into direct conflict with the Kalinga because of the Chico Valley dam project. Originally planned to comprise of four single dams and produce 1000 megawatts of electricity, the dam would have been the largest in Southeast Asia at the time. The repercussion would have been the flooding of the Kalinga's valleys, loss of ancestral lands and resettlement of the tribes. The resulting scattered fighting between the military and the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) culminated in the murder of the chief of Bugnay, Macliing Dulag, in 1980, said to be caused by men in uniforms. The conflict inevitably widened -- soldiers were beheaded, tribesmen shot. In the end, the project was abandoned but the reputation of Tinglayan as a violence hotspot sadly lingers on.
It would be another two days before we will meet ex-mayor Fernando Abay who owns the inn where we were staying. In our very short chit-chat, he tells us of efforts to clear the municipality's reputation especially among travelers (Lonely Planet recently removed its travel warning on Tinglayan). He acknowledges both the need for tourism and the difficulty of balancing it with the preservation of culture. One thing though he said that struck me was that "all the province can offer is nature -- the mountains, the waterfalls". We didn't have much time to discuss the matter further but I thought that in traveling to these parts, the whole point was to reunite with nature, not hanker for glass and steel edifices, for creature comforts, for much of everything urbanity and the city stands for. After all, there are not a lot of places left where modernity and technology have not forever altered the locals' way and pace of life, places where you can still escape to.
Feeling the need to check my emails on our first day, the Globe signal fluctuated between 2G and HSDPA (forget about Smart in these parts, very spotty coverage at best). My browser was taking forever to load so I abandoned the effort and turned off my phone. No FB, no Instagram, no tweets, no emails. And so it remained that way for four stress-free days.
|Double room at Sleeping Beauty Inn|
Coming up in Lagal[og]:
Buscalan: Fang-od, Grace Palicas and the 86 year wait for a tattooing successor in Kalinga