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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Goal 81

The country is currently composed of 81 provinces and only a few people have set foot in all of them. But for those who love Philippine geography and local travel, at some point, they may have fancied going to all of these provinces in their lifetime.

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Add me to the group of people who dreamed of travelling to all of the Philippine provinces. I consider this as a welcome challenge. Personally, I see it as a way for me to learn about the country through its political units, exploring each one by knowing its people, its culture, its history, the interesting places to go, the popular food to eat, the festivals to look forward to, or the stories of glory and pride.

Other than being a way to express love for the country, apart from dutifully paying taxes, domestic travel is something that has not fully developed in the Philippines.

I have visited most of the provinces in the country. There are only 23 provinces which I have yet to visit. My goal now is to visit them the soonest possible time. Allow me to enumerate them.

1. Abra – a landlocked province under the Cordillera Administrative Region. Capital: Bangued. Planned date of visit: August 2016
2. Apayao – also a landlocked province in the Cordillera Administrative Region. Capital: Kabugao. Planned date of visit: August 2016
3. Aurora – the easternmost province under the Central Luzon region. Capital: Baler. Planned date of visit: May 2016
4. Basilan – an island province within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Main City: Isabela. Planned date of visit: 2017
5. Bataan – a historic province in Central Luzon. Capital: Balanga. Planned date of visit: September 2016
6. Biliran – volcanic island province in Eastern Visayas. Capital: Naval. Planned date of Visit: May 2016
7. Cagayan – a province in Cagayan Valley Region. Capital: Tuguegarao. Planned date of visit: August 2016
8. Catanduanes – an island province in the Bicol Region. Capital: Virac. Planned date of visit: 2017
9. Davao Occidental – the 81st and the newest province in the Philippines. Davao Region.Capital: Malita. Planned date of visit: June 2016
10. Dinagat Islands – province in the Caraga Region. Capital: San Jose. Planned date of visit: 2017.
11. Eastern Samar – easternmost province in the island of Samar. Eastern Visayas Region. Capital: Borongan. Planned date of visit: May 2016
12. Guimaras – island province near Panay. Western Visayas Region. Capital: Jordan. Planned date of visit: April 2016
13. Isabela – province in the Cagayan Valley Region. Capital: Ilagan City. Planned date of visit: May 2016
14. Kalinga – a landlocked province in the Cordillera Administrative Region. Capital: Tabuk. Planned date of visit: August 2016
15. Masbate – island province under the Bicol Region. Capital: Masbate City. Planned date of visit: 2017
16. Marinduque – an island province in the MIMAROPA Region (Region IV-B). Capital: Boac. Planned date of visit: 2017
17. Occidental Mindoro – province at the western half of Mindoro island. MIMAROPA Region (Region IV-B). Capital: Mamburao. Planned date of visit: 2017
18. Quirino – landlocked province in the Cagayan Valley Region. Capital: Cabarroguis. Planned date of visit: May 2016
19. Romblon – an archipelago province in the MIMAROPA Region (Region IV-B). Capital: Romblon. Planned date of visit: 2017
20. Sulu – an archipelago province under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Capital: Jolo. Planned date of visit: 2017
21. Tawi-tawi – an archipelago province under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Capital Bonggao (de facto) / Panglima Sugala (formerly Balimbing). Planned date of visit: 2017
22. Zamboanga del Sur – a province in the Zamboanga Peninsula region. Capital: Pagadian City. Planned date of visit: 2017
23. Zamboanga Sibugay – a province in the Zamboanga Peninsula region. Capital: Ipil. Planned date of visit: 2017

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I’m setting this Goal 81 for a period of at least two years. 2016 is pretty much loaded, with at least 10 provinces already firmed up for visit. It is very much attainable. I’m pretty much excited.