Friday, December 22, 2017

SAKURA PARK, HIGHEST POINT in Philippine Highway System and a short walk along Halsema to Mt.TIMBAC


"It was a walk at a park, gardens, a highway, roads, trails and mountain peak"

-my pagnapagna-
(December 19, 2017 a Tuesday)

I packed my backpack and traveled to Baguio City.
At Baguio City, I went to the Dangwa Central Bus Station located at the back of the Baguio Center Mall and rode a passenger van that was bound for Mankayan/Lepanto area. Although it was bound for Mankayan, I will be alighting at the Municipality of Atok.
It was around 6:47 am when the passenger van departed the terminal area and had a stop-over at Sayangan at around 8:25 am. Sayangan is at Poblacion of the Municipality of Atok. I alighted from the van and paid one hundred (100) pesos and walked towards the Atok Municipal Hall which was just nearby.

Atok Municipal Hall

I walked up the steps going to the main entrance of the municipal hall, went inside and sat. Cold wind was blowing from the open door. Nobody was on the information desk but there were some people around waiting for whatever they were processing at that office near the entrance. I further went inside to see other departments that I could inquire to. I chanced upon an employee by the hallway and asked where can I inquire about their tourist spots. She gladly answered, "Idiay  Department of Agriculture" (At the Department of Agriculture) as she pointed where their building was located. I was puzzled and asked "Department of Agriculture?".
"Wen sir" (Yes ), she replied.
For a moment I was lost but I realized that it was because the municipality was an agricultural town.
"Okay, idiay laengen office of the mayor dyay ngatu tatnu maymayat" (Okay, better at the office of the mayor upstairs) she said.
I went upstairs and since their tourism officer was not around, it was the secretary to the mayor who accommodated my inquiry about their tourist spots. I inquired about the "Adevonan waterfalls" but she said that it was located far (near the town of Kapangan area) and instead he suggested an itinerary for the places to visit within the day.
From downtown, walk your way up to the vegetable gardens located just above the town and visit the "Sakura Park" and also somewhere is the "Lourdes Grotto" (I forgot to visit), from there walk going down to Halsema Highway into the "Highest Point in Philippine Highway System" and then walk again along Halsema Highway all the way up to "Mt. Timbak".
"O idi nalpas dayta maysa aldaw. tatnu mai-kwam dayta pagnapagnam" (O there, one day is finished so you can implement your pagnapagna), she added.
After thanking her and the company, I left and went to the vegetable gardens above and asked directions going to "Sakura Park".

Vegetable  Gardens

To the right will be going to "Sakura Park"

Also known as Benguet-Kochi Sisterhood Park, it is a wide grassy area with a small patch of forest nearby. Vegetable and flower gardens also surround the park. Its main attraction is the "Sakura" thus the name "Sakura Park".
This grassy area were planted with "Sakura trees" or commonly known as cherry blossoms in the year 2015 but most of these died. The following year (2016) an additional of 30 saplings were planted. One of the trees bloomed pink flowers sometime around the middle of this year 2017.

The Sakura Park Entrance. The park is located at Haight's Place of Barangay Paoay
These are some of the Sakura Trees protected by fence

After seeing the only Sakura Park in the Philippines, I left (9:55 am). There was a light drizzle of rain. I went to a waiting shed and checked inside my backpack if I had an umbrella. To my frustration, there was none. Now what would if it rain hard along the way? But I was determined to walk my way.
I continued walking along a road going down to Halsema Highway. A few minutes walk and I reached the marker.

This is a part along the Halsema Highway wherein it is the highest of all the highways in the country.
With an elevation of 7,400 feet above sea level and located at barangay Cattubo in the municipality of Atok, province of Benguet.
There were shops of around 6 stores in the area and a viewing deck wherein below it is a pay public restrooms.

I had a snack at one of the stores to pass time as it lightly rained.
The drizzle stopped and it's time for me to leave (11:55 am). Walked along Halsema Highway and enjoyed the roadside views.

a photograph (video still) from the highway

As I was walking I noticed a red car stopped beside me and he offered me to ride. I politely said that I will be hiking. He smiled and drove away. 
I kept walking, sometimes it lightly rained that I had to take shelter at a waiting shed and then walked again.

an artwork at a wall in a waiting shed
Along the way, suddenly it rained hard (12:20 pm) that the only nearest shelter was a roadside barracks of drivers. I had to ask the occupants' permission.
I sat on a big blue plastic water bottle looking at the road as the rain poured heavily. Few minutes had passed and still the rain seemed to have no intentions of stopping. I remembered the car who stopped and offered me a ride. I said to myself, I should have rode in his car heehaw! I even felt sleepy waiting for the rain to stop.
Rain had finally weakened and it was my chance to continue my walk along the highway.
Taking photographs and videos along the way as I walked.

a Photograph (video still) taken along the way at Halsema Highway

I was at the branching road to Mt. Timbak at around 1:54 pm.

The branching road from Halsema Highway
The sign says that the Mummy cave of Timbak (c) is temporary closed

My pace slowed down as I walked on that branching uphill road. At times the fog would get heavy that the place felt different. As I walked further, the wind blew. It got colder.
I reached the Mongoto Elementary School area with heavy fog and winds.

Mongoto Elementary School

Walked further again to a "sari-sari store" (3:04 pm) and had a snack of pancakes with peanut butter filling.  The store owner said that I had passed the road leading to the summit.

pancake for snack

It was cold, windy and foggy as I went back few meters to another branching road. The wind howled as it blew. I reached a small residential area and met a man who showed me the trail going up to the summit.
From the road was a concreted steps going up to some vegetable gardens, some few houses and nearing the summit where some crosses. It looked so differently mysterious with the heavy fog. I even thought one of the structures (silhouette) was a hooded man looking down at me as I made my way up.

This looked like a hooded person from below

At a clearing above were vegetable gardens. I looked for the peak and it must be that part where it was crowded by few communication towers and antennas.

This must be the peak as it is the highest point in the area

Located at Kabayan, Benguet, it is ranked as 3rd highest peak of Luzon and the 9th highest peak in the Philippines with an elevation of 2, 717+ meters above sea level.

The wind howled as it sprayed a mist of rain. 

My mustache gets wet as it catches those mist. 
I did not stayed there for long since the weather was not that good and nothing to view as it was foggy which made the place mystical with silhouettes of angels and crosses. I think that was a grave nearby heehaw!

 I started going down at around 4:25 pm.
Along my way going down, the mist turned into light rain. My rubber shoes and the lower end of my pants were wet. I took shelter at a waiting shed along the way and not for long, I continued walking until I reached Halsema Highway (5:19 pm).
I waited for a ride and caught a Lizardo bus (5:44 pm) bound for Baguio City with 80 pesos fare.
It was still raining when we arrived at Baguio City (8:10 pm).
It was another Cordilleran day as I rode another bus bound for Home Sweet Home.

-end of pagnapagna-

Ma'am Marilou Alos Zarate
-Secretary to the Mayor of Atok
Office of the Mayor of Atok
The one who offered me a ride along Halsema Highway
and the people I met along the way


Subject   : Municipality of ATOK
Location : Municipality of ATOK
                 Province of  Benguet
How to get there:
Go to Baguio City. At Baguio City, go to Central Bus Station (Dangwa) located at the back of the Baguio Center Mall along Magsaysay Avenue. Look for the passenger vans going to Lepanto/Mankayan or Buguias. Tell the barkers/driver that your going to downtown Atok which is at the Sayangan area.

Subject   : SAKURA Park
Location : Barangay of Paoay
Municipality of ATOK
                 Province of  Benguet
How to get there:
At downtown Atok, please visit their Municipal hall for more information/direction.
Sakura Park is located farther up at the mountain at the back of the Municipal Hall.

Subject   : Philippine Highway System's Highest Point 
Location : Halsema Highway
Barangay of Cattubo
Municipality of ATOK
                 Province of  Benguet
How to get there:
At downtown Atok walk/drive your way further some few meters. There is a marker at the area by the highway bend.

Subject   : Mount TIMBAK
Location : Municipality of Kabayan
                 Province of  Benguet
How to get there:
From Baguio City, ride a bus bound for Sagada/Bontoc or much better passenger vans bound for Lepanto/Mankayan or Buguias. Tell the driver/barker that your going to Mt. Timbac which is at km. 55 along Halsema Highway. That will be your jump-off point. From there, walk your way up along that concreted road going up and ask directions at the residential areas.



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