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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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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