Friday, April 5, 2013


"Great things come unexpected. This is definitely one of my favourite summer hike of 2013"
-my pagnapagna-

The Journey going to Municipality of SUGPON,  ILOCOS SUR

At around six o'clock in the morning, I rode a bus going to Bangar, La Union.
Met my “Kumpare” at Bangar and invited him so I’ll have a companion for this adventure.
From Bangar Supermarket we rode a passenger motorbike (we are 3 on the bike including the driver) going to Sugpon, Ilocos Sur. Passed by the eastern Barangays of Sudipen, La Union, and because it was summer, we crossed Amburayan river much easier at that time of the year. No need for a motorized raft to transport you to the other side of the river, for a small temporary bridge was constructed for light vehicles to cross on (a new bigger main bridge was being constructed at a distant).
Arriving at downtown Sugpon, Ilocos Sur, we paid the driver and visited their Municipal Hall. 

Sugpon, Ilocos Sur Town Hall
In front of their Municipal Hall, at the entrance porch, we saw two men seated on a bench.  
“Good morning sir” I said to them and asked "sir, ayan na pagnaan mapan ediay waterfalls?" (sir, where is the way to the waterfalls?).
 "Ahh, ada waterfalls ngem summer gamin ket matianan da" (Ahh, there are waterfalls here but because it is now summer, they all dried up) he answered smiling, "taga anu kayu kadi?" (Where are you from?)
We introduced ourselves and then asked again "ada ba tourist spot nga mapagpasyaran ditoy sir?" (Are there any tourist spots here where we can visit sir?).
He answered back, "Hmmm? Awan mut ngem mabalin kayo latta agpasyar dita barbarangay" (Hmmm? None but you can walk around the villages). Perhaps noticing that we were a little bit frustrated, he said "Nu kayat you mapan kayu idiay burial cave ngem adayu pagnaan yu" (If you want you can visit the burial cave, but it will be a long travel). A big smile came out of my face and I said "Wen sir, uray adayu kayat mi makita dyay burial cave" (Yes sir, even if it’s far, we want to see the burial cave)
He gave us the instructions on how to get there, then he let us log-in to their municipal guest book (the one usually held by security guards). 
I asked the man "Sir anya tay nagan yun kadi?) (Sir what is your name again?).
 "Siak ni Mayor Fernando Quinton Sr." (I am Mayor Fernando  Quinton Sr.) he answered. 
Upon hearing what he said, (i think i blushed a little and humbled) my face brightened up even more with almost ear to ear smile. I shook his hands and thanked the mayor and said goodbye. 

The Journey  Going to Barangay DANAC
We hired the same passenger motorbike that took us to Sitio Toyeng of Barangay Banga. 

Stores at Sitio Toyeng

The Sitio is located at the foot of the mountain where some few stores are located facing the almost desert-like banks of the river and it was there where the road going up to the mountain barangays starts. We bought some candies, biscuits and c2 (no bottled water available) just in case we starve along the way. 

At Sitio Toyeng, along the river. It was here where we started our hike.

We hiked along the rocky, hot and wide open riverbed. The driver just waited for us at that Sitio Toyeng

The rock-ridden river
tree-trunk bridges

Where the river crosses our path, in order to get to the other side, we walked on top of the tree-trunk foot bridges, provided with a bamboo handrail. We crossed the river at least trice using these tree trunks. At one instance, we crossed the river on knee deep of water. 
Along the river at Barangay Caoayan, we met a man working at his garden and asked for directions. He said, "suroten yu lang dayta linya ti kuryente ta hanka yu mapukaw" (just follow the electric wire lines and you won’t get lost) which we gladly did.

approaching Barangay Danac

Upon our arrival at Barangay Danac, we asked from a young lady seated on the window sill where can we find a store in the area. She showed us the same house which has a store at its front (we were at the back of the house). We bought a 1.5 liters soft drink. It was not cold. The girl said that their refrigerator had not yet arrived. We found out that it was just last year that they had electricity in their village. 

With some of the great people of Danac.

Her parents came out and greeted us. We then introduced ourselves and let our purpose known. 
We also asked if we can order some cooked noodles just for lunch. They offered us another cooked food instead. 
The wife went to the village's chapel, came back with some plates of food and said, "kalkalpas gamin ti fiesta ti parokya mi idiay kapilya tattay, umuneg kayo ta mangan" (we just finished our feast of our patron saint in the chapel a while ago, come inside and eat). Tired and hungryIt was an offer we cannot resist, at least for me, my companion did not each that much.

Eating time

After eating, they called upon one of their Barangay Councilor to accompany us in going to the Burial Cave.

Located just above the village, on the side of the mountain is a small cave. One must stoop to get inside as the cave was not that high. Inside were three burial tree trunks, cut from a large tree to form a barrel or a drum, if I was not mistaken, it measured more or less 0.50 meters to some 0.80 meters in diameter. The two large ones were capped with a flat stone. The small one, which was badly damaged was said to be that of a young boy named “Bengegan”. The other two has also names but have to ask the elders of the barangay.
It was said that these were the first residents of the area. I was also told that the caves were long seen by the barangay’s elders and even their ancestors have seen it.
Some skulls and jaws of cows and pigs were scattered at the side of these burial trunks together with some rocks.
At the lower western side of the cave are other smaller caves where animal bones were placed.
There was an incident that one of the burial trunks was stolen, but the villagers got it back.
Cracks on the cave walls and ceiling were present.  Chunks of soil were ready to fall down anytime, as well as the cave’s mouth was slowly being shut closed by soil erosion.
Last year (2012) some authorities from Manila visited and inspected the Burial cave but until now (as of time of writing) the people of Barangay Danac were still waiting for the findings of the Authorities from Manila.

The burial cave with the drum-like casket

Going Back
After visiting the burial cave we thanked the people, got some water for the journey going back and went on our way at 1:54 pm. 

A storage hut on our way out of the Barangay
to get back to the other side of the river, we use one of this

Under the scourging heat of the afternoon summer sun we crossed the river twice with a tree trunk bridge and tried the other way, this time through the mountain. 

tired, took a rest after that exhausting uphill hike.
We went up hiking at mountain barangay of Caoayan until we reached the top where a school is located. It was not a good idea, the uphill hike was very tiring, we should have stacked with the one along the river but again it was part of the adventure itself. 
On our way, we walked on a cemented road but at times very steep. Finally, we arrived at a store where our hired passenger motorbike together with the driver was waiting (4 o’clock pm). 
We departed Sitio Toyeng on the motorbike and arrived at Sugpon Town proper at around 4:15. The Mayor was not there, so we just let one of the employees of the Municipal Hall know that we were leaving. 
We rode the same passenger motorbike as we went back to Downtown Bangar, La Union. Arrived there at  4:50 pm.
Tired but with another great exploration and an experience to cherish… rode a mini-bus and eventually went to Home Sweet Home.

-end of pagnapagna-

Location : Barangay of Danac
                 Municipality of Sugpon
                 Province of Ilocos Sur

How to get there: 
1- From Manila take a bus going to any of these northern Luzon places namely: Laoag City, Vigan City or Abra. But get down at the plaza of Bangar, La Union.

2- At Bangar, La Union, go to their Supermarket and fronting it to the other side of the road are parking area of motor bikes. Tell them that you are going to Downtown Sugpon, Ilocos Sur.
3- At Sugpon, Ilocos Sur. Please Visit their Municipal hall and log-in or to the Police Station. Then try to ask directions.
4- Hire a single motor bike to take you to sitio Toyeng of barangay Banga or if he can take you to the Elementary School of barangay Caoayan so much the better... then take a hike of an average of 2 hours going to Barangay Danac.
5- At Barangay Danac, ask for the guidance from their Barangay Officials in going to the Burial Cave.

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