Friday, December 1, 2017

Maligcong: Twice Up Kupapey with Maku and Wayward Tourists

My guardian dog, Maku, and the sunrise over Favarey
I didn't plan on hiking up Mt Kupapey twice in three days.  The plan was simple: to do a lot of nothing for a change. Breathe the air.  Do hikes to the school with the dogs.  Read.  Sleep.  For a change.
I've been away for over three months and a lot of things can happen in that time.  For starters, Suzette's Maligcong Homestay now has four resident canines.  There are my guardian dogs, Kunig and Maku, now joined by two frisky, happy-go-lucky black Labs, Tuba (named after Tuba, Benguet) and Tam-Tam (after Tamawan Village in Baguio).  You can say it's happy bedlam when the four decide to play all at the same time.  As usual, Maku sleeps on the floor of my assigned room, now joined by the shy and gentle, Tam-Tam.  The Labs have this habit of nosing my face or hand from the edge of the bed in the early hours of the morning, trying to find out if I'm awake, perchance to play.  The homestay also has five more rooms downstairs.

On the other hand, I was saddened hearing the passing of Kunig's dad, Bogart.  He's such a kind-hearted and sweet dog.  While enjoying the native oranges, I heard the news that Mang Nardo, the owner of the local orange orchard, has also passed on.  It was just the third harvest of the revived orange farm.   He and his wife decided to retire and resettle in Baguio and Maligcong about two years ago from Australia and now, he's gone.  Oh well.  From Suzette's veranda, I thought that the view was missing something.  And I was right.  Some of the tall trees from across the road were cleared to give way to a small path.  Explains why there are now more birds twittering at the back area of the homestay.
Irish guests and Maku overlooking Favarey up Mt Kupapey
TWICE UP KUPAPEY WITH MAKU.  The weather fluctuated between rainy and fine the first few days which may have prompted me to join Tina and her Irish guests up Mt Kupapey on the morning after my first afternoon back in Maligcong.  Quite cloudy coming up but the sunrise was fantastic, the clouds and fogs veiling and unveiling the terraces of Favarey.

The next two days turned rainy.   I would've wanted to try my Nikon Coolpix B700 for some birding practice as well as ogle the new DJI Spark of my best bud, Ferdz, on Kupapey but it would have to wait until two days later.  I'm not complaining, I can spend a lot of time doing a lot of nothing.   On my second hike, we were joined by Pinoy and Canadian guests, Justin and Damian.   I can never tire of the crisp mountain air, the foggy views up Kupapey.  Nevermind the slippery trail soaked by the rain and a painful right foot wound.
Lovable, gentle dog, Tam-Tam
WAYWARD TOURISTS.   Tourism is a two-edged sword really:  while locals want to be hospitable (and Filipinos are hospitable by nature), there are some tourists who overstep their boundaries and abuse the hosts' generosity.  Two Spanish guys decided to park their rented car by the roadside and spend overnight in a tent up the mountain despite admonitions from the locals that it is not allowed for safety and security reasons.  They went ahead anyway, lying to our guide, Roland, that they weren't told the day before.

I find it strange that they also refused to register and pay the P25 barangay/environmental fee meant for the upkeep of the trails leading to the mountain and the main village.   Here's what I saw:  an expensive The North Face tent, two Kovea butane stoves, a cookset, earth pad and food provisions.  Certainly, if they can afford their gear and the car rental, they can fork over the P25 fee each.  

What they did takes on more significance considering the power of social media.  Other tourists who may see their social media posts may follow their lead and bypass the barangay altogether.  In my mind, this is a low volume tourist destination; it would take only so much visitors to impact heavily on the natural surroundings.
Beautiful Favarey village veiled by clouds and fog in the early morning
IN THE FOREST'S EMBRACE.  That first hike up Kupapey on this trip, I stayed behind and waited until 8Am to see if the wind will pick up and the clouds would dance across the terraces.  When it did not, I ate an oat bar and fed another to Maku, then packed my gear to go.

Maku, who patiently waited all this time for me to do my thing, was not ready to go.  He lay down and lingered, eager for a tummy rub.  I joined him, lying down on the grasses and staring at the cloudy blue sky.

It was just a few minutes but it seemed like an eternity.  The wind quietened to near-absolute silence.  The world paused.  Just me, my guardian dog, and my thoughts, locked in the forest's embrace.


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