A Journey to Maligcong, Bontoc Province

A Journey to Maligcong, Bontoc Province

Situated at the high altitude of Bontoc, Mountain Province lies a hidden kingdom surrounded with carve mountains and rice paddies.

After a day of work, my girlfriend and I packed our things and went straight to G/V Florida Bus Terminal in GMA-Kamias were we booked a 9 pm scheduled bus bound to Banaue – Tuguegarao.

Our bus arrived at Banaue early in the morning after 11 hours of travel time. Despite having a little sleep, we looked for a restaurant or carinderia around Banaue Market to eat our breakfast before heading to Bontoc.

After breakfast, we looked for the van bound to Bontoc. It’s almost past lunch when we arrived at Bontoc and we decided to skip our lunch for us to catch up the last trip (2 pm) of the jeep that is bound to Maligcong.

Upon arrival at the terminal and while waiting for the jeep to be full, we met a couple named Nicolas and Laure from France who was also heading to Maligcong.

After a short conversation with the couple, they decided to join us. They say that they do not have any fixed itinerary and accommodation upon arrival on Maligcong.

After 45 minutes of travel time, we arrived at Maligcong around 3 pm. Luckily, it passed through Suzette’s Homestay where will be staying for a couple of days.

We already saw Ms. Suzette the owner of the homestay with her pets (dog) waiting for us in front of their gate. After a quick rest, I talked to Ms. Suzette and discussed our plan for the rest of our trip in Maligcong.

First is that we want to climb Mt. Fato on that day, to witness the sunset on the summit. Second is that we will climb Mt. Kupapey the next morning to witness the sunrise. She immediately looked for a tour guide that is willing to guide us along the way to Mt. Fato summit. She found Noel, one of the certified local tour guide that has the knowledge of the trails of Mt. Fato and Mt. Kupapey.

MT. FATO

After preparing our gear and a quick briefing regarding Mt. Fato, we started our trek. The funny thing about this climb is that it is not just Noel who will guide us along the trail, but also the four dogs of Ms. Suzette. Noel said that the dogs already memorized the path going to Mt. Fato summit because every time there is a guest in Maligcong they always join the climb. It is amazing.

The beginning of the trail is composed of cemented staircase before it gets rocky and muddy. Aside from that, the entire trail was covered with Pine Trees.

Over a couple of hours passed since we left Ms. Suzette’s Homestay and as we got closer to the summit, we can saw the large limestones rock formation sticking out towards the sky. After a couple of minutes, we went through a narrow passage to the back and finally, we arrived at the summit around 05:30 PM.

It offers 360 views of Maligcong Rice Terraces and the villages around Maligcong. You can also see the summit of Mt. Kupapey on the other direction. After an hour of stay, enjoying the view and a couple of photos, we decided to end our Mt. Fato adventure and head back to Ms. Suzette’s Homestay.

At the summit view of the villages and rice terraces of Maligcong

We arrived at Ms. Suzette’s Homestay at around 7 pm. Upon arrival, she offered us a cup of Maligcong coffee which can be refilled. We also met her new guest Tina, a solo backpacker who is planning to climb Mt. Kupapey the next morning.

We asked her if we can join the climb and she answered yes with a smile on her face.

Mt. Kupapey

It was three in the morning when I woke up to the sound of my alarm.

I still felt tired on yesterday climb on Mt. Fato but I have to get up and prepare our things for the Mt. Kupapey climb. When we get out of our room, I saw Noel our tour guide waiting on the lounge and Ms. Suzette who already prepared our breakfast and, of course, the unlimited coffee on the side.

Nicolas, Laure, and Tina are also waiting. After eating breakfast and quick briefing regarding Mt. Kupapey, we started our trek around 04:00 AM.

For just a single hike, similar to Mt. Fato, it would take around one to two hours from Ms. Suzette’s Homestay to Mt. Kupapey Summit. The trail is also covered with pine trees. Noel said that this mountain serves as the watershed for the rice terraces and source of water for the community of Maligcong.

Camping in Mt. Kupapey and Mt. Fato is not allowed as per the memorandum of the LGU of Maligcong to preserve the area and the cleanliness of both mountains.

After a couple of hours trekking, we finally reached the summit of Mt. Kupapey. It was still dark and the entire summit was filled with fog.

On the front of the summit, you can see the Maligcong Terraces covered with fog. After a few minutes of waiting for the clearing, the first ray of sunlight appeared. We all witnessed how the fog and all the clouds slowly dissipate, showing us a beautiful landscape of Maligcong Rice Terraces, truly a remarkable sight.

We were speechless for a couple of minutes. No one was speaking. Everyone was enjoying the beauty of Maligcong.

There’s no other way to enjoy this immense beauty but by taking pictures with the couple and Tina.

Around 7 am, we decided to say goodbye to Mt. Kupapey and head back to Ms. Suzette’s Homestay. We arrived at Ms. Suzette Homestay around 9 am and rest for a while heading to our next destination—Batad.

Before we departed, we thanked Ms. Suzette, Noel, Laure, Nicolas and Tin for the great adventure we had. For us, we consider Maligcong as one of the memorable travel we had. If there was one thing this travel has taught us, it is having the opportunity to meet amazing people and adopt the culture of the place we have been to.