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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Images of Sadanga

Sadanga municipality in Mountain Province is a land-locked and out-of-the-way town not often visited by tourists. The hamlets and villages comprising the town are situated on hilltops and mountainsides. Sadanga offers ideal destinations for hiking and other mountaineering activities for suitably fit adventurers. There are enough attractions and sight-seeing wonders in these mountains to last a few days or weeks of retreat or natural rejuvenation. On the outskirts of Belwang one can explore Angoten cave with its maze of many openings. This cave is similar to the caves in Sagada. The beautiful Fowa-as Falls with its cool and refreshing mountain springwater flows out all the year round from beneath Angoten cave and the surrounding lush green forests. The cave and falls are on my must-see list for next time.


The wondrous sight of great artworks of rice terraces carved on the steep mountainsides, is worth the trip up along the narrow winding dizzying zigzags to these highlands.

Like in Mainit, there are  natural hot springs in Poblacion and Bekigan that provide a soothing relaxing bath for tired bodies. Sharing in a communal bath is a privilege that local expats look forward to, and that visitors find a very thrilling experience.
Many of the Mainit people have ancestors and relations from these parts. Belwang sits on the eastern slopes of the mountain range between Sadanga and the ricefields of Mainit. Sacasacan is strategically situated on a historic hilltop where the colonial Spaniards constructed a garrison and a watchtower. This same outpost was also utilised by the imperial Americans. This vantage place overlooks Chemang and many of the other villages including Sadanga town proper. Mamadmang na Chemang ad Sacasacan (In Kankanaey madedemang nan Demang).
Back in 2010, I trekked the ridges and peaks ofthe Mainit mountain range on the west of Sadanga municipality. I did some vadfajuy (walkabout) and emerged at the topmost extents of the ricefields of Sacasacan. The year 2010 was an el nino period - it was a burning season, and many ricefields in the Cordillera suffered some form of water shortage or drought. Back then the Sacasacan fields appeared to have come through with little impact from the chagon. This much was evident on that slow painstaking hike, along burnt snaking tracks, from the mountain peaks all the way down to the Chico river at Ampawilen junction. 

Before descending from Sacasacan, I spent some time admiring the magnificent views around Sadanga from the high school hill compound. Recently this school site and others around the Cordillera were used as army outposts with local officials turning a blind eye. Human rights groups and others have correctly, though belatedly, pointed out that military occupation of schools is a violation of international and Philippine national laws.

Just like many of the towns in Mountain Province and the Cordillera, Sadanga municipality is basically a subsistence agricultural area with a range of crops that include heirloom rice, legumes, peanuts, camote, and vegetables as squash. Sugar cane is also grown for sugar and wine used for consumption and rituals. Some freshwater fish is farmed in the rice fields of some barangays.

In April this year, from the north in Kalinga, going southwards to Bontoc, I went through the Sadanga section of the Mountain Province-Kalinga national road. This high way is constructed on the deep ravines and steep mountain slopes.

But even on this twisting road gouged and cut out from the mountain sides, there are great spots for viewing the winding Chico river up to hundreds of metres below.
In olden days, the river teemed with fishlife, clams, watercress and other edible freshwater creatures and plants. Nowadays, with the unabated mining and waste dumping happening upstream, it is advisable not to consume anything from the river.
A few of the villages of Sadanga are along this ‘mountain trail’ national road. The villages of Anabel and Saclit with elevations of around 500m, sit on the high banks of the Chico and have the warmest climate in Sadanga. Saclit is located in the vicinity of the Kalinga provincial boundary, where the first settlers of Anabel also trace their roots from. Betwagan was originally settled by two tribes (Angkallim and Foyyacao) which came together initially for mutual security, but are now harmoniously united - “Finmetwacan”.


Development and infrastructure construction are urgently needed in Sadanga. News reports of the town receiving funding, and improvement of the Betwagan access road, will hopefully boost projects leading to the uplift of communities and lifestyle. Then the ator will again come to life with the sweet beat of the tayegteg, and the graceful sway of the sagney.