Kalinga: Tales of Head Hunters

A sleepy province, Kalinga is cradled by the mountains of the Cordilleras. The relatively cool climate blankets the province most of the time while the Chico River meanders through its core. It is a landlocked province defined by the rugged highlands of the west and the gradually sloping grassland of the east. And in between are flat lands that produce rice from the skillful hands of the tribe.

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Street corner spot showcasing the agricultural aspect of Kalinga

Several tribes in the Cordilleras used to practice headhunting. There were several reasons and purpose why it was practiced before, and they vary from one tribe to another. The Ifugaos, Bontocs, Ilongots, Sagada Igorots, Apayaos and Kalingas dwell in the Cordilleras and traditionally somewhat hostile to each other.

According to factsanddetails.com, heads taken from headhunting brought glory to the warrior who collected them. It gives good luck to their village as well. The heads were preserved and worshiped in special rituals.

Most heads are taken out as an act of revenge, often for breaking the traditional law. Other reasons for headhunting include tribal beliefs that beheading the enemy is a way of killing off for good the spirit of the person beheaded. Headhunting is also believed to help the soil become fertile and it provides strength to the people.

Back in the days, the people of Kalinga were feared by neighbors and invaders because of their reputation as headhunters. Kalinga in Gaddang and Ibanag tongue means headhunter. The Kalinga people live in the highlands and were able to preserve their warrior-culture. Their strong sense of belonging to a tribe and their loyalty resulted to frequent tribal unrest and sometimes resulted to tribal wars.

In the present day Kalinga, headhunting may be a vanishing act but tribal wars may still exist in remote places in the highlands. This should not deter travelers and tourists though from visiting Kalinga. People are generally warm and hospitable to visitors.

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Davao Occidental – The Newest Province

Republic Act 10360 created Davao Occidental. It is comprised of 5 municipalities which were taken out from the province of Davao del Sur. It was created in 2013, making it the newest province of the Philippines.

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In one of my business trip to southern Mindanao, I was able to insert a day trip to the 81st province of the country. This visit enabled me to inch closer to achieving my #Project81 goal.

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Zamboanga del Sur

Let us consider Zamboanga del Sur in the eyes of Pagadian City, it’s major city and capital.

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This city is nestled between highlands of Zamboanga Peninsula and Illana Bay. It is dissected by FS Pajares Avenue that runs from the rotunda to the city port. Pagadian is an interesting city because of its network of roads that are mostly sloping.

The public transport, the tricycle (tuktuk) has adapted to the inclined streets with its design entirely different from the rest of the country. The Pagadian tricycle has become its iconic symbol.

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Iconic Pagadian tricycles

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Zamboanga Sibugay

The obelisk at the roundabout stood high and bright against the dark skies. It is the newest landmark of Ipil, the provincial capital of the province of Zamboanga Sibugay.

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Roundabout Obelisk of Ipil

The Zamboanga Peninsula used to be divided into two provinces, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, with Zamboanga City as the commercial and administrative hub of the region. In 2001, a new province was founded out of the western towns which were under the third district of Zamboanga del Sur. This province became the 79th province of the Philippines.

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The Province of Quirino

Even up to this day, the province of Quirino is not on the list of must-visit places by the weekend warriors and the local tourists. Quirino is not found on the same path leading to terminal points of Tuguegarao or of Sta. Ana in Cagayan. Progress has yet to be felt in this laid-back province consisting of 6 municipalities and a population of less than 200,000.

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Most often, people would ask what’s there to see and visit in Quirino. It is not as popular as its neighboring provinces like Isabela and Cagayan or even Nueva Vizcaya to its south. It is relatively young, having formed as a sub-province in 1966 from the forested portion of Nueva Vizcaya and eventually became a province 6 years after.

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A Queen’s Province: Isabela

In the island of Luzon, a province was named after a Spanish royalty, Isabella II. This province is part of the Cagayan Valley Region (Region II) and is the biggest province in the island, 2nd biggest province after Palawan. As to why they chose the queen’s name as the name of their province, it may not be too clear. Isabela was formed in 1856 when the queen was only 25 years old.

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Queen Isabella II

Unlike Queen Isabella’s reign, the history of the province is not a bit troubled at all. Some towns from Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya were taken to form the province of Isabela. During the revolt against Spain, Isabela did not have a significant part except on the time when Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans in the town of Palanan.

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Abra Abra Kadabra

It’s a landlocked province tucked in the highlands of the Cordilleras. The province of Abra is often skipped by weekend warriors as they pick other places to visit. The weekend traffic often leads to popular places like Vigan, Baguio or La Union. When you ask people if they can give you tips about places to visit in Abra, expect that they could not say as much. For most of the people, Abra is still a mystery.

I was happy enough to get the chance to visit Abra. On my road towards goal 81, Abra is my 64th province. The easiest way to plan for a weekend visit to this place is to focus on its capital town, Bangued. How to get there?

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E is for Eastern Samar

There are places which needed proper planning and schedule of visit or travel because it is very far and the option for transportation is close to none. Stories of isolation and the lack of available information could deter anyone from trying at least to schedule a trip to these unpopular land.

But for me, Eastern Samar is not one of those places. This province is just biding its time to be made known to the rest of country, or to the travelers, and perhaps to the surfing world.

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Sidlangan Samar or Eastern Samar is my 63rd province to visit. This province occupies the eastern section of Samar Island, facing the Philippine Sea, which is a part of Pacific Ocean, to the east. It is bordered by Northern Samar to the north and the province of Samar (Western Samar) to the west. The Leyte Gulf is at the south.

Typhoons often come to Eastern Samar. Its southern town of Guiuan was one of the many places where super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) made landfall. Almost 3 years had passed since it was ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda, Eastern Samar is now back on its feet and has since moved on to face new challenges in the present time.

One of the challenges it might be facing is how to draw tourists and travelers to its shores. The province has a long shoreline and several islands which promise significant swells or waves that can attract surfers or the thalassophiles. Although the main roads going through Borongan City, the provincial capital, is good, options for transportation is still limited to mini-buses, vans and the tricycle.

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My visit to this province was focused on Borongan City. How to get there?

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El Yu: The Wave Beckons

Dubbed as the surfing capital of Northern Luzon, this province is a magnet for surfers, beach lovers weekend warriors who love to chill out and enjoy the breeze. La Union is part of the Ilocos Region and is just about 270km north of Manila (4-5 hr drive).

El Yu or La Union (The Union) is said to be founded in 1850 as a fusion of the areas of Pangasinan, Ilocos and the Cordillera Region. Through the years, the Spanish ‘La Union’ is broken down into provinces, creating Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. The Cordillera is further divided into provinces but collectively, they became the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). At present, La Union is composed of 19 municipalities and a component city.

Sharing to you our La Union trip last August 2016:

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