After our stopover at Bay-yo Rice Terraces, we all returned to our jeepney for the remaining 13-km. drive to Bontoc Central. This time, Aldrin, Donald and I climbed up the luggage rack to have an unobstructed view of the great mountain scenery. However, I wasn’t able to take photographs as I had to hang on to avoid falling off. Upon arrival at the outskirts of the town, we alighted and returned to the cabin.
|Aldrin, Donald and I on the jeepney’s luggage rack|
Upon arrival at the town proper, we made a stopover at the Bontoc Village Museum, located within the Catholic ICM Sisters’ convent and the St. Vincent’s Elementary School. Jandy and I also visited this museum during a short lunch stopover on our way to Banaue from Sagada.
|The museum 15 years ago|
The museum, structured in a way to resemble an Igorot house, was established by Mother Basil Gekiere (a Bontoc resident for 56 years, she died in 1983) and run by the Belgian ICM missionaries. It aims to preserve a varied collection of authentic artifacts and photos reflecting the culture of the mountain tribes. Its exhibits present a good overview of the differences and similarities between the mountain tribes in 3 well-laid out and labeled rooms, one each for the Ifugao, Bontoc and Kalinga artifacts. It consists of a group of miniature traditional houses, a collection of rocks and fossils from different parts of the Cordilleras and old photos (including some of the Igorot headhunting days). As before, photography is not allowed inside.
|Museum Ethno-Cordillera Library and Souvenir Shop|
The library (with a limited collection of books) and the museum shop (which sells postcards, carved wood items and other novelties), formerly located at the museum’s basement during my first visit, is now housed in a separate building (Museum Ethno-Cordillera Library and Souvenir Shop). Here, we met up with Sister Marcela Agang0-Ang, the new museum curator who is native Ifugao. During our previous visit, the curator was Sister Teresita Nieves Valdez who, according to Sister Marcel, died a few years ago in her 80s.
|Sister Marcela Agang-Ang|
|With the late Sister Teresita Nieves Valdez|
Besides the building is an outdoor museum with a replica of an traditional Ifugao village. Here, we visited a model of a traditional Bontoc house with furnishings, a smithy and fish traps.
|The outdoor museum|
|The outdoor museum 15 years ago|
There’s also an ato (where the council of elders meet), a ulog (where unmarried women live and a pig pen with a real, live pig inside. The museum is now under the care of the Bontoc Diocese.
Bontoc Museum: Gumaang Road, Bontoc, Ifugao. Admission fee: Php60/person. Open daily, 8 AM-5 PM.