Hanging Bridge in Tinglayan, Kalinga

Getting to Tinglayan, Kalinga

I arrived at the bus station 10 minutes before our ride’s scheduled departure for Tinglayan, Kalinga. Tinglayan was our jump-off point for our visit to Buscalan to meet the esteemed Apo Whang-od. Typical me, I did everything last minute: submitted final output for work (sent 4:15 PM), packing (done 6:15 PM), withdrawal of pocket money (done 6:20 PM), and picking up of books for the kids of Guina-ang (done 6:25 PM). I sensed relief from Tara that I showed up.

Pre-trip jitters

Truth be told, I think I was having a tinge of anxiety due to fear and uncertainty. See, this was my first time to do legit backpacking. Being so used to traveling in a comfortable and well-organized way, this trip gave me jitters.
The Boho Travels at Tabuk, Kalinga

BUT, I took the plunge because I NEEDED IT. I needed to be brave, to do something big. Being in a place in my life where everything seemed like a blur – like I was just reacting to what life threw at me – I grappled for direction, desired for a plan. I aimed for control. Taking this trip was my way of taking the reins back in my life.

The jeepney story

As soon as we got to Tabuk, we looked for the red jeepney to Tinglayan that Manong Francis, our tour guide in Kalinga, advised us to take. I reminded Tara that we were supposed to look for a red jeepney, instead of the green one that we saw. She said, “They might change colors, you know.” Oh yeah. LOL. So, after confirming with the driver of the green jeepney that it was also going to Tinglayan, we left our bags inside, with so much confidence in the goodness of the people of Kalinga and our fellow travelers, and looked for a place to have breakfast.

That was a taste of the many instances where I grew and expanded as a human being. Going through a breakup and having trust issues, I was very protective of myself. But, seeing Tara so open and having so much faith in people, I started opening up to possibilities. I allowed myself to see the good and enjoyed the privilege of going on this adventure

Morning in Tabuk, Kalinga

We walked around and enjoyed the first morning of our trip while looking for breakfast. Being a city girl, I loved the fresh air and peaceful vibe that Tabuk offered. It was so refreshing to observe how people go about their days in a place that is foreign to you. What I loved about Tabuk, is that we were greeted with smiling faces everywhere. They were very accommodating despite the almost existence of a language barrier.

Tara walking around in Tabuk, Kalinga

The green jeepney left at around 9:00 AM. While I have read that people ride on the roof of the jeepney due to limited trips from Tabuk to Tinglayan, witnessing it firsthand was still different. It was odd, surprising, a bit scary, but also amusing at the same time. That was my first taste – of the many – top loads on this trip.

Toploading in Tabuk, Kalinga

Arriving in Tinglayan, Kalinga

The ride to Tinglayan took about three hours. We met Manong Francis in front of Sleeping Beauty Inn, where we were supposed to stay the entire time we were in Tinglayan. But, the inn was fully booked because of a wedding scheduled on the day after our arrival. So, Manong Francis arranged for us to stay with his sister, Ate Concepcion.

The walk to Ate Concepcion’s house was uphill. Add the scorching heat of the sun, my unfit self cursed me at one point or another. Despite the difficulty, I relished the sights and took the experience in.

Settling in at my first homestay

Manong Francis prepared food for us upon our arrival at her sister’s house.  Tara and I left our bags in our room, freshened up, and drank lots of water.  Another thing that amazed me was that we could drink water directly out of the faucet! This is something I’d never do in Manila.

A day full of firsts at Tinglayan, Kalinga

It was a day full of firsts for me. This was my first trip with Tara, my first visit to Tabuk, my first stay in Tinglayan.  It was my first time to cross the hanging bridge (which I did twice!), my first time to see the Chico River (beautiful!), and my first time to meet a real live lola with lotsa tattoos (amazing).

Hanging Bridge in Tinglayan, Kalinga
Chico River seen from Tinglayan, Kalinga
Tattooed Woman in Tinglayan, Kalinga

This was my first time to do a real mountain trek (survivor level in my opinion), my first time to step on a snake (and not notice it), and my first time to see Sleeping Beauty.

Afternoon in Tinglayan, Kalinga
Sleeping Beauty, Tinglayan, Kalinga

It was my first time to witness someone pound coffee beans (and sing at the same time!).  And, it was my first time to do home stay, which turned out to be a wonderful experience.

Coffee Pounding in Tinglayan, Kalinga

Meeting the people of Tinglayan, Kalinga

The people in Tingalayan, Kalinga, were so friendly and accommodating. They would always greet you “Hello!” and smile at you or nod at you.  I knew and got it that I was an outsider and I also got it that my presence there was welcome.

A lot of them are better at speaking in English than in Filipino. Many of them will speak to me in English and we’ll have a full conversation before the person I’m speaking with or myself would blurt a Tagalog word; only then will we realize that we could’ve spoken in Filipino. LOL.

Wrapping up a wonderful day

We met our host, Ate Concepcion, and her family in the evening. They were a little shy at first, possibly because hosting was not really something that they’re used to doing. But, since we were Manong Francis’ guests, they opened their homes to us. I will forever be grateful.
That night, we had a short conversation with Ate Concepcion and her kids – Ligalig, Bullet, Chavez, and Baron – before we tucked it in.Before going to bed, Tara showed Ate Concepcion some yoga poses. Since my legs ached from all the walking we did that day (yes, I’m that unfit) and also to prepare myself for the planned hike next day to visit a community, I joined in.

It was such a memorable and full day and we were only on our first day of our 14-day trip. I was so excited and wanted to write everything in. But, I was so tired, too. LOL. So, we just slept to prepare our bodies for another enriching day in Tinglayan, Kalinga. (Spoiler alert: we crashed a wedding!)

Chico River, Tinglayan, Kalinga

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