“I know what you are doing!” exclaimed an old man I crossed paths on the narrow paved road amidst a vegetable field in Buguias. “I’m taking pictures!” I replied with a smile. “No! You are looking for gold!” he answered with a grin on his face. He walked away slowly as I was a bit surprised by the conversation. What I do know is I have long been fascinated by Buguias that I finally had the chance to stop by this municipality where the marvelous Halsema Highway cuts through.
The fertile land of Buguias never cease to be a salve to the senses as I pass by the length of Halsema Highway so many times when I head to the Mountain Province from Baguio. The sight of vegetable fields, outline of the mountains and often times low lying clouds hovering over ridges adds comfort to the long drive. I have always thought it looks spectacular under the day light but had often imagined what its like during the golden hours.
I would find out eventually. Coming from an outreach trip in Maligcong, we decided to finally top by Buguias for a couple of nights. Buguias is quite a large municipality, northeast of Benguet and 83km from Baguio. Its 175.88 sq km area is divided into 14 barangays with Abatan being the most popular as a crossroad barangay to other destinations and a center of trade. The municipality was originally called Bogey-yas during the pre-Spanish time.
The first afternoon, we didn’t waste time and walked to one of the high hills overlooking the vegetable fields and Halsema Highway. The afternoon lights graced the undulating landscape. A scene I’m so tempted to compare to Tuscany but I haven’t really been there. This is Buguias I say, a highland landscape unique to our own. The fields formed captivating patterns on the Earth. And that afternoon, the clouds decided to paint patterns of its own to rival whats below. As the sun hides behind the mountains, the biting cold became more intense. Temperature dropping to as low as 16 C but it felt colder than that. Still, we tried to capture the night sky in the highlands.
Fields of Patterns
Mornings are as remarkable as the sunsets. Therer were farmers working on the field early as soon as the deep purple sky transits to warmer hues. The landscape unfolds as gradient hues come alive one layer at a time. The scenery just makes me love our Cordillera Highlands more.
For me the vegetable fields was the main attraction in Buguias but I soon found out there are also caves, waterfalls and hot springs in the area. Unfortunately, Buguias doesn’t have tourism in its radar having used to being a transit town. The police, while very accommodating doesn’t also know where to find the other attractions I was looking for. Perhaps next time, the agenda is to explore those other attractions.
I did find out something about the gold the old man was referring to. It turns out Buguias was part of the Yamashita trail and the famed Golden Buddha. I never did find any gold but I’m glad we saw Buguias basking in its golden light.
Buses GL Trans and D’Rising Sun passes by Buguias regularly via Halsema highway from Baguio to Mountain Province (Sagada or Bontoc)
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.