Bontoc | Caneo Weaving Wonders

Auntie Benita showing us her finished Caneo weaving
Auntie Benita showing us her finished Caneo weaving

“Tig tig tak! Tig tig tak!” I hear the sound of the loom beaters colliding. Creating a rhythmic beat as a weave of pattern slowly forms. I watch Auntie Benita busy with her loom at the balcony of her house overlooking the roof of her neighbors along with the high mountains hugging their village of Caneo (sometimes Can-eo). Her ever watchful grand daughter Shakira stays by her side. Observing how she skillfully coordinates her motions, from pedaling the treadles to shuffling the shuttle between the threads. Much like Shakira, Benita learned how to weave watching her mother as she grows up. Traditional Caneo weaving, which they call Tilar, is very much alive in this remote village.

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Rediscovering Ilocos Sur’s Thrills with Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub

Paragliding activity with Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub
Paragliding activity with Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub

Ilocos Sur is perhaps best known for Vigan’s Spanish-period architecture. But two hours away from the capital, in the windswept shores of Narvacan, an adventure camp is fast becoming a word-of-mouth gem. Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub, or NOAH, was founded in 2005, known only to a small circle of thrill-seeking explorers. They would drive seven hours to Narvacan to windsurf and paraglide at Bantay Abot hill, then later on, to scale the vertical walls of Via Ferrata. In February this year, NOAH’s management decided it’s time to extend its small family.

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Lakbay Norte VI: 3 Awesome Pasalubong from Cagayan

The pottery industry in Iguig (Photo by Martin San Diego)
The pottery industry in Iguig (Photo by Martin San Diego)

To travel is not only to see. It is to feel, to hear, and to taste. There is a compulsion to take a piece of every place back home. Hence, the thriving industry of souvenir items. Taking into consideration environmental preservation and sustainable tourism, there are certainly more preferable items than others. Fortunately, when you’re heading to the northern province of Cagayan, there are more than one pasalubong that does not only help sustain the community but also perfectly encapsulates the province’s identity. Here are three:

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Biliran | An Island of Waterfalls

Biliran Waterfalls
Biliran Waterfalls

It’s not since Iligan when I got excited at the prospect seeing and enjoying a number of waterfalls in one area. Tablas in Romblon also have a good set of waterfalls on the island but most of them low type ones. The province of Biliran in Eastern Visayas however have at least 30 waterfalls on its mountainous island. Only at least ten of those have names and unlike Tablas, the island of Biliran have tall and powerful waterfalls that’s truly majestic. Others cascade beautifully. I have to Biliran three times for the past six months and I haven’t explored all of them yet. Here are the ones I have visited and ranked based on my favorites. These are also the ones I would recommend if you plan to chase waterfalls in Biliran.

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Lakbay Norte VI Part 5: Through High Water and Back

Celine and Gretchen taking in the view at Palaui Island
Celine and Gretchen taking in the view at Palaui Island

That Friday morning, we all prayed hard for sun and blue skies. After the drenching of yesterday, still vivid and sharp, we wanted nothing more to do with rain. And as though the echo of our collective pleas reverberated throughout the divine plane, the roiling clouds started to ease. As a result, we hurried to board our designated motorboats.

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Lakbay Norte VI Part 4: Cagayan Brick by Brick, Tower to Tower

Iguig Pottery
Iguig Pottery (Photo by Martin San Diego)

The rainfall that was repressed during our first day in Cagayan was now letting on. Dark clouds loomed overhead and followed us like vultures waiting to pounce. Everything was bleak and the air was heavy with the smell of ozone. But despite the less than cheerful weather, we put on our best smiles and bucked up.

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Mt Pulag with Peak Pursuits: Back After Almost 14 Years

Catching the sunrise at the summit of Mt Pulag
Catching the sunrise at the summit of Mt Pulag

13.6 degrees centigrade according to my watch barometer. We were inside our tent. I could imagine how cold it was outside our tent hearing the unrelenting howl of the wind. It is 2:30 am and we’re at the Camp 2 of Mt Pulag, the highest mountain of Luzon and considered as the third highest in the country. I braced for the chill as I zipped open the tent door. A draft came in as I peeked outside. The sky was clear with stars jubilantly sparkling. The waning moon illuminated the landscape. “We have a clearing!” I gleefully thought. Thank god the weather was on our side and after almost 14 years, I’ll be back at the summit of Mt Pulag.

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