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Saturday, 3 February 2018

Revisiting Barlig

Barlig is situated in the rugged high mountains and deep canyons of the remote center of Mountain Province.
Barlig in the mist.

Travelling over the snaking mountain roads to Barlig town is a thrilling adventure in itself.
At every corner you can view breathtaking scenery, winding streams, lush montane cloud forests, waterfalls and fields.
Ricefields through the fog.

Remnants of some old native huts with thatched roofs made of stick and grass straw - cogon, remind of an age just gone.
Traditional huts

The warmth of February comes to end the cold nights. It is the time to sow the rice seedlings for the season. And when the young rice shoots are in bloom, the hot season or maybe chacon will be here soon. But the cooler climes of Barlig is the reason - for the travelin’. And as the roads continue to wind, so strays the wanderin’ mind of the travelin’ kind.
Stunted hardwood in the cloud forests of a high mountain.

Modern times and roads have long transformed the communities and lifestyles of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. Yet their customs continue to survive in these remote mountainous and self-sufficient communities that are also blessed by Nature’s bounty.

Centuries of established practices in preserving woodlots and watersheds have kept forests untouched and intact, thus sustaining the environment.
Deeply ingrained in the psyche of the Ibilig, is this respect of nature and recognition of the mutual connections between forest and field.
Tradition demands respect of customs and laws, land and forest rights; and responsibility and stewardship for the natural environment, including the observance of good practices of soil and water conservation.

And it is customary to leave certain areas alone, like the sacred places the spirits call home.
Lake Tufob

If you are passing through, go lightly. Do not stray, do not disturb. Tarry but not sully.

However, with the changing times the ancient knowledge systems from sangadom are disappearing/ through the thinning smoke rings of the woodfires/ down the foggy ruins of mournful pines/ felled before their prime… 
And as the traditions of the ancestors are dissolving into distant memory,
the mountains are washing out to sea.

Oh. Ole! Awllae (A what looks like an eskimo) seems lost in the jungleland.
Wandering the damaged mountainsides once grand.
Now I see two eskimos, inspecting a typical road construction conundrum up in the mountains.

Can they engineer a solution?
This is a slippery slope, literally. But rather think laterally.

 Oh lonesome me. Just walking, heart aching, still yearning.
Crossing bridges burning, not falling…


 Yes, and still the streams are flowing,
and the waters fall.
And a hard rain's a-gonna call.

Friday, 26 January 2018

The bridges of Mainit County

Mainit, the land of the Chonglian mountain people, is located in the Bontoc Municipal area of Mountain Province in the northern Philippines region of Cordillera. Mainit is best known for its natural hot springs, and a number of unique bridges. 
A one-log bridge on the outskirts of town.

The trail leading up to Tiging has a two-log bridge fit for a king.

The bridges of Mainit are mooted to feature in a book, a movie and maybe even a musical - somewhere over the rainbow.
This daydreaming is what happens when reminiscing. And reminiscing brings back memories of sang-adum - the yesteryears adkaysa-kaysan. Those were the days of roaming and rambling, of adventure, of the thrill and the freedom. What a wonderful world.
And these are the memories that make you want to explore the mountains again – to range the landscapes and beyond to parts of our natural world, and to learn about yourself. Let the bridges take you there.

Journeying on the mountains leads along the paths of nature’s bounty, such as forest food or a growth of rattan cane.



It is such a privilege to tread on the trails where not many others go,
 not kings, not prime ministers or presidents.
Bridges go overseas, or just over a mountain stream.

And when your bridge takes you to places where you can catch a glimpse of the rare sights -
who’d wanna be a princess or a queen?
Or a wealthy man in his golden fortress, trapped within?



Where there used to be aratey, now bridges lead to the fields of green.


Another bridge leads to Dallik town.

Whilst still another links Dallik and Guina-ang.

The ridges on the south and west of Mainit, where eagles ride the thermals.

Another ridge leads to a rocky mountaintop Fato between Guina-ang, Maligcong and Bontoc.


On another ridge the road goes to Maligcong.



Another ridge drops down to Sacasacan.
Where there is a bridge before the ricefields and the town.

This ridge line climbs up to high Serkan, where eagles nest.




Cheyjey is the I-Chonglians link to the past adkaysan.

A bridge brings remote and distant farms and fields closer.

There is the odd abandoned adit in Mainit.
Let us build more bridges not walls.

Other bridges lead to distant lands where sometimes I find myself
- in the lowlands.
Yes build bridges where you can, but draw the line where you must.