Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BESAO as i've seen, experienced and as i was told

"Experiencing  a life in the upland town of Besao is something i cherish"
If you find this story/blogpost interesting and/or had helped you in any way (in your researches, works, travels, blogs, adventures, homeworks at school, a personal project and more), I'd like to hear a word or two from wonderful people like you or simply Like "pagnapagna" in Facebook. I'd be very thankful. It gives me inspirations. Cheers!

-my pagnapagna-

My friend, a native of Besao, came to pick me up at Loblobocan (a place within Barangay Besao West near the Bus Terminal of Lizardo Bus). Although it was beginning to get dark (around 6 o'clock in the evening), the moon was reflecting light on a cloudy sky. It was windy and cold as we went down from the road to a cemented pathway within the barangay (village) and came across this old tree with stone seats around a bonfire area. This is a “Dap-ayan”, he told me. It is where the people gather around and talk.
From the "Dap-ayan" we walked some more until we reached his grandmother’s house and showed me an “etag”, a salted pig meat skewered and hanging outside the window sill. Afterwards, we went and ate at their family house which is just beside his grandmother’s house. Later on, we came back to sleep. 

Nice to drink a hot coffee during a cold Besao morning

The next day, a Thursday, we went to Sagada (narrated at the next blogpost).
After our Sagada pagnapagna, we rode a bus going back to Besao but this time we went down from the bus near the boundary of Besao and Sagada at Banao. Few meters walk from the main road is Banao Lake (as called by the people of Besao) or Lake Danum (as called by the people of Sagada). It is a small body of water that looks like a wide pond and it is located in the disputed territorial boundary of the two municipalities namely Besao and Sagada.

Lake Danum a.k.a. Lake Danao

We saw some campers along its grassy banks. 
We went to the other side and lit some dry woods but then it began to drizzle. So we took shelter under a pine tree. Soon the drizzle became lighter. We departed from the lake and walked down the one-lane road. The drizzle stopped once in awhile as we walked along the slightly descending road. Along the way was a smaller body of water which is a pond full of lilies (4:55 pm). 
A pond 

A view along the road

We walked further down the cemented road (two strips of cemented pathways, one each for the two tires of an automobile) at some portions were dirt road. Pine trees, grasses, distant mountains and the lonesome road were all that can be seen as there were no houses or people around. The dirt road now is replaced by foot paths as we walked down to some vegetable gardens. My aching knees slowed our pace (sign of  getting old?). As we are ascending we were greeted by a black bull standing just a few inches on our path. Pondering, we stopped and do not know what to do. On both sides were ravines (not that high but still not good to fall down from where we were). Fortunately, a man going home with his harvest of cabbages on two baskets hanging from a pole laid on his shoulder happens to passed by. He helped us pass through that intimidating black bull with ease.  It turned out that we were just afraid of it and it was not an attacking bull of some sort.

In their dialect, my companion and the man who happened to passed by, talked to each other as we walked through the sides of the terraces. 

After a while, he gave us three whole heavy heads of cabbages and we thanked him. We arrived at his village (Barangay Suquib) and we parted ways with the man and continued our walk. Finally, we arrived at barangay Besao West at 6:30 pm.

Friday morning, his uncle came to say that they will be slaughtering a pig for the wedding of one of their neighbors. I went with them to see how they will catch the two pigs from a pen and be weighed. I watched as they killed the pigs and a live chicken was being beaten with a stick. 

An elder came holding a plate with water in it and some leaves. He chanted some words and threw the water at the two pigs.

Afterwards, the cleaning of the pigs and chicken began with the help of a blow torch. Butchering was then done by the elders. The intestines and stomachs of the pigs were put on a container and transported to a tricycle then cleaned at a creek near a bridge. We came back as they cooked some “dinuguan” (pork blood stew) and big chunks of meat were distributed to the group who helped in the preparation of the pigs. Afterwards, we ate and by 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the two of us went exploring the southern side of Besao as much as we can because I’ll be going home the following day.

We went to a small irrigation dam located somewhere near barangay Suquib. Seen many tadpoles thriving in its waters. I only wore t-shirt with 3/4th sleeves that’s why I got some cuts and bruises on my arms and hands from the sharp edges of leaves that grow along the pathways. We went down to the road and then to an uphill trail where we walked and balanced ourselves at the edge of the terraces at “Liyang”. There we saw a big boulder with a pine tree at its back. Under the boulder was a space used as final resting place for some of their dearly departed which were concealed from view by shrubs and tall grasses.

Below this rock is a burial site

If i was not mistaken, those birds that flew away at a short distance from us, as we walked were quails. 

A view of the distant mountains

Few times I slid on the steep ground that made more slippery by the fallen dried pine tree needles. 
Along the road again is a waterfall, took some pictures and continued our walk on the main road. 

Besao from the other side of town

From our vantage point, at the cemented road, we can now see Besao proper at a distance. A waterfall at the other side that drops deeply down to the river below can also be seen. My friend searched for the trail going down the mountainside into the river below. After some few minutes he found the trail. Some 50 meters above the river, the trail was lost among the terraces and bushes. Tired and puzzled, we sat down, rested and had a free drink from a hose supplied by springs. 

With determination we reached the river below where a small pedestrian bridge crosses the river.
A bridge to the other side

A waterfall

We did not crossed the bridge for it will lead us to another destination which was barangay Payeo and it will take us longer from that place going back from where we came from at barangay Besao West. Instead, we walked along the river going upstream then to a trail where he remembers (They use this trail for farming but it’s not farming season on this part of the Mountain which explains the lush overgrowth of some vegetation). We continued walking, this time all uphill. Tired, I let him carry all the camera and tripod (he used to walk on this part with some sack of grain of rice as his loads). As he was leading the way, he sat on a boulder and rested a few meters in front of what seemed to be a small rectangular house (It used to be a waiting shed used by farmers as resting place but now, all four sides were covered with wood and turned into a house by a mentally disturbed man). Then I pondered what if he suddenly comes out and push us from the trail down into the mountainside or attack us with something, heehaw! I uttered, "intan" (let’s go). My companion halted me and softly said "aguray" (wait). "Sige, umuna kan" (okey, go ahead) he said in a small voice which I did cautiously and what a big relief nothing unfortunate happened.  The walk continued and we arrived at their barangay at around six o’clock in the evening. 

One of the several "Dap-ayan"

We again passed by a “Dap-ayan”. I have seen a total of around four “Dap-ayan”
Arrived at their house tired, we cleaned ourselves with a wet face towel. His father told us some stories and afterwards we had our dinner.
That night we also went to see their other house being constructed and almost done (financed by their sister who works abroad). The interiors of the house were generally made up of knotty pine wood planks which are ordinary to them but what a sight for a lowlander like me. He said, for this house they cut down some 16 matured pine trees that were planted by their ancestors. Afterwards, we went back to his grandmother’s house to sleep.

The following day, i took the 7 am bus ride back to Baguio City leaving a lovely place behind but not forever. Etched some memories in my mind that will linger forever.

-end of pagnapagna-


        From the stories that I’ve heard from some of the people especially the seniors who are in a way still connected with their cultural and historical past. Some or few still have that “pasiking” (traditional backpack) or “sangi” or the ritual of making it as “takba”, “berban”, or “bunag”. It started during Head Hunting days that they get the spirit of the dead and put it in the "pasiking" usually kept in a hidden safe place away from people and sometimes at an abandoned house and then given with offerings such as rice wine called “tapey”, salted local meat called “etag”, and even ornaments to please the spirit that lives within the said pasiking and perhaps get some favors.

For their Dialect Kankana-ey : Translation (basic words)  CLICK HERE

Subject   :  Besao
Location : Municipality of Besao
                 Province of Mountain Province

How to get there:
From Baguio City take a bus bound for Besao, Mountain Province (about 7-8 hours bus ride). Lizardo Bus usually ply this route. Their Terminal is located  besides Dangwa Bus Station at the back of Baguio Center Mall.

 © All original content copyright sparkPLUG, 2012-2013. Please ask permission for content use.

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