Talakudong Festival: Wear Your Hat

The Talakudong Festival in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat is a neo-ethnic cultural extravaganza celebrating the city’s rich and diverse cultures and tradition. The spectacle is highlighted by streetdancing and a field demo competition, participated in by various elementary and high schools across the region. Dancers in colorful costumes don the traditional “kudong“–the Ilonggo term for salakot–adorned in indigenous trimmings, and comes in various hues and sizes.

Celebrated every 18th of September, this week-long festivity opens with a float parade and agro-industrial fair, showcasing Tacurong’s best agricultural and industrial products.

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Beyond words: Kaparkan Falls, Abra

The first time I saw photos of this one-of-a-kind waterfalls in Abra, I instantaneously said to myself, I have to see it with my own eyes… and see it, I did!

Kaparkan Falls, hidden in the heart of Abra, is a gruelling three- to four- (sometimes five-) hour long ride via 4x4s or monster trucks, depending on road conditions, which is pretty much from worse to worst, especially that the best months to go here is during the rainy months of July to September.

In most cases, steel chains are wrapped around the tires for added grip in the muddy road.

After a body-wrenching rollercoaster ride, the waterfalls is still about 15mins to 20mins away on foot! But all these pain and hardships vanish as soon as you see the beauty and experience the cool, refreshing waters of Kaparkan Falls.

Aside from its unique formation — terraced cascades forming mini pools in several tiers — another of Kaparkan’s rare beauty is the color of its water. Rich mineral deposits lend it its light bluish hue.

Kaparkan Falls is truly one of nature’s many wonders.

NOTE:

Visits/Trips to Kaparkan Falls is regulated by the local tourism office. Before traveling here, make sure you have advance registration. For inquiries, you may get in touch with Ms DyKath Molina, Abra Provincial Tourism Office (https://www.facebook.com/dyane.kath).

The Dreamweavers of Lake Sebu

National Artist Boi Lang Dulay

Boi Lang Dulay (August 03, 1924 – April 03, 2015) elevated T’boli weaving into an art form, earning for her the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan in 1998 for her outstanding craft and masterpieces that made the t’nalak – and the T’bolis – famous the world over.

The T’bolis belong to the many indigenous tribes or “lumads” that live in the hinterlands of the southwestern part of Cotabato. The T’bolis of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato are famous for their dream-inspired and spirit-infused weavings, raised to the level of art by the iconic Boi Lang Dulay, the 1998 Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardee. Lang Dulay has designed and woven over 100 T’nalaks. She stopped weaving in 2011 due to advancing age and concentrated on designing. The last design she made was bought by the NCCA after she died.

The T'bolis are also well-known for their ornate and intricate brass and beadworks.

The T’bolis are also well-known for their ornate and intricate brass and beadworks.

The T’nalak is a deep brown cloth made from “krungon” or abaca fiber, tie-dyed with intricate designs and produced mostly by the womenfolk of the tribe. According to T’boli tradition, T’nalak designs have been passed down through generations and are revealed to the best weavers in dreams, brought to them by their ancestors.

The T’nalak is so ingrained with spiritual meanings that its production and use is surrounded by a variety of traditions and beliefs.  It is believed that in order to maintain the purity of their art, T’boli women must abstain from “worldly pleasures” while weaving a T’nalak. During weaving, one should not step over the loom, for doing so is to risk illness. Also, cutting the cloth, unless done according to the prescribed norm, will cause sickness or death; and if a weaving is sold, a brass ring is often attached to appease the spirits.

T’nalak production is labor-intensive, requiring both skills and knowledge, and learned at a very young age by the women of the tribe.

Along with the its world-famous T’nalak, T’boli music and dances are also among the indigenous cultural heritage being showcased in Lake Sebu.

Paddies in the Sky: Ifugao Rice Terraces

The rice terraces collectively known as the Ifugao Rice Terraces is among the “Eight Wonder of the Ancient World”, covering about 4,000 square miles of mountainside at approximately 1,500 meters (5,000 ft.) above sea level.

Carved into the Cordillera mountains of North Luzon in the Philippines by the indigenous “Ifugao” people using ordinary hand tools and implements, these rice paddies in the sky have withstood time for more than 2,000 years and continue to provide food for the Kalinga Nation.

What makes these rice paddies unique is their construction. Beginning from the valley floor, stone and/or mud walls are built along the natural contours of the mountain side, reaching as high as 50 feet, then backfilled with fertile soil where another wall is erected at a slightly higher elevation. Each terrace comprising the Ifugao Rice Terraces was constructed from the valley floor up and are watered by an ancient irrigation system from the rain forests above the rice terraces. The system comprises of dams, sluices, channels and bamboo pipes, which are open and closed in co-operation with each owner.

Although hundreds of rice terraces are still intact and spread across Northern Luzon, only these six rice terraces clusters are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site norm.

1) Nagacadan terrace cluster in the municipality of Kiangan, a rice terrace cluster manifested in two distinct ascending rows of terraces bisected by a river.2) Hungduan terrace cluster that uniquely emerges into a spider web.3) Central Mayoyao terrace cluster which is characterized by terraces interspersed with traditional farmers’ bale (houses) and alang (granaries).4) Bangaan terrace cluster in the municipality of Banaue that backdrops a typical Ifugao traditional village.5) Batad terrace cluster of the municipality of Banaue that is nestled in amphitheatre-like semi-circular terraces with a village at its base.6) Banaue Rice Terraces.

Let me tell you a story…

Why travel?

Romblon: A beachgoer’s Paradise

Sharing its name with the province, the town of Romblon is a picturesque settlement that gained prominence during Spanish colonial times as a trading post. The island municipality is blessed with natural playgrounds such as beaches, rivers, natural pools and diverse marine ecosystems that offer visitors several opportunities for adventures.

Agpanabat Marine Sanctuary

Romblon has 17 marine sanctuaries, the most popular being Agpanabat Marine Sanctuary and Turtle Rescue Center, just below Apunan Lighthouse.

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Various species of corals and anemones cover the seabed and serve as home to colorful schools of fish.

Bonbon Beach and Sandbar

Perhaps the most popular beach destination in Romblon is Bonbon Beach. Just 15 minutes away from the town proper, this marble-white beach is Romblon’s top tourist drawer.

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Tiamban Beach

Tiamban Beach is bounded by Nonok Beach and Bonbon Beach on either side, and is a good alternative when the two becomes overly crowded. The idyllic coastline of Tiamban Beach makes for a leisurely getaway.

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Bang-og Islet can be seen here.

Nonok Beach

Nonok Beach is a favorite events place among locals. Its main attraction are its various underwater sculptures. You can rent a kayak and paddle your way around Nonok Beach’s mini mangrove forest.

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Talipasak Beach

Thirty minutes from Romblon town proper in Talipasak Beach is San Pedro Beach Resort. This privately owned resort is a welcome change from the usually crowded Nonok, Tiamban and Bonbon beaches. One can just sit back and enjoy the view or take a dive and marvel at the diverse marine life.

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Libtong Falls and Natural Pool

Off the beaten track, Libtong Falls features a natural pool walled in by bedrocks, best for a refreshing dip. While the falls is not that spectacular, Libtong is a popular destination for thrill seekers wanting to hone their cliff jumping stunts… or, as in our case, just chillaxing and cooling off after a 15-minute trek.

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Quipot (or Kipot) River

Twenty minutes downhill from the main highway is Quipot (or Kipot) River. Kipot falls is also a favorite among those who subscribe to the thrills of cliff jumping.

 

 

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