Bay-yo Rice Terraces (Bontoc, Mountain Province)

Upon crossing the border to Mountain Province, we made a second and final stopover at the lush green, 10-hectare Bay-yo Rice Terraces, located 18 kms. along the Bontoc-Banaue Road and 13 kms. from Bontoc Central (a 45-min. drive).  Jandy and I also made a similar stopover here 15 years ago.  Located on the southern slope of Mt. Polis, on an impressive precipice with a backdrop of mountains, it has high, fortress-like rice terracing. 

Bay-yo Rice Terraces
The drought-ravaged terraces 15 years ago

Compared to other rice terraces in Banaue, this cluster is much smaller but it doesn’t have houses or any other unsightly structures in the middle of the terraces, making it much more appealing to me. Whatever houses there are are packed on one side of a cliff, to the left of the terraces.   We can’t help be mesmerized by its charm and scenic location.  Worth some photographs, it can be seen from a concrete view deck along the road.  Jeepney drivers usually stop here but, in our case, I had to request our driver to do so.  There are public toilets located nearby.

The concrete view point
 
A sign here indicates that  this is a part of the “Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras” as inscribed by UNESCO which showcases the engineering feat and ingenuity of the Igorots depicted here as master planners and astute agriculturists.
 

Mt. Polis (Ifugao)

From the Grand Viewpoint, we proceeded on our way to the provincial capital of Bontoc and made a short stopover at the Mt. Polis Viewpont, along Mountain Province-Ifugao border, a regular peeing and supply stopover for bus and jeepney passengers.  Here, you can find a huge 30-ft. high statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which ironically stands between 2 giant cellular communication towers.  

Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The statue was said to have been erected to provide divine protection for the towers by dissuading NPA rebels from lobbing grenades at the facility.  For added protection, there’s also a police detachment that watches over these towers.  

An unusual sign

An unusual sign that I found here reads “DPWH Gender & Development Park.”Gender and Development (GAD) is a program that aims to address the physical needs of motorists along our national road network. Gender-responsive roads have beautified road and road lines, public toilets, visible road signages, informative and directional signs and warning signs (which include reflectorized stickers and paints on guard rails), and concrete pavements to give motorists early reaction time thereby preventing the occurrence of vehicular accidents due to lack of road signs.

Vegetable terraces with Mt. Polis as backdrop

On the south side of the highest point of the road (1,920 m.) is the 2,255 m. summit of Mt. Polis, a birdwatcher’s paradise and home to a tropical, mossy forest.  This should not be confused with the 1,829 m. high Mt. Polis in Sagada, a popular trekking site.  Fresh, really cheap organic vegetables, straight from the farm below us, are sold along the road.  Cheap, freshly brewed but bland upland coffee is also sold at coffee shops (Hannah’s Store, Coffee Hop & Restaurant; Mt. Polis Rolling Coffee Shop; etc.) along the road.  Thick fog usually engulfs the place during the early morning.

Mountain Province boundary marker
Straddling the boundary of two provinces

Ganduyan Museum Tour with Ms. Christina Aben (Sagada, Mountain Province)

Ganduyan Museum

Jandy and I were now on our third and final day in Sagada and we still had time to kill before leaving on the 10 AM G.L. bus.  After a Filipino breakfast at Ganduyan Inn’s cafe, we decided to visit the next door Ganduyan Museum, managed by Marina Biag’s mom Ms. Christina Aben.   Since the early 1970s, Ms. Aben has amassed a spectacular and meticulous collection of tribal artifacts with a passionate curator’s eye for quality and rarity, all detailing the rich but vanishing Cordillera Igorot culture.  Wishing to share her passion for unique Igorot art and culture with the world, she placed them all in a one-room, second floor museum which she opened in 1984. Because of the museum’s limited space,  Ms. Aben, with a designer’s eye for presentation, carefully chooses what to display and how to display it.

Ms. Christina Aben

The museum closed down in 1986 and it remained so when Jandy and I first visited Sagada in 1998.  It was open that morning and we were personally met by Ms. Aben who escorted us up the stairs to the museum, removing our shoes first at the stair’s foot before going up.  She’s a cancer survivor and a housewife with a high school education who speaks impeccable English. Ms Aben is also an enthusiastic, erudite and well-informed hostess who loves to share the meaning and importance of every museum piece to anyone willing to listen.

Ganduyan Museum – Display

The museum was a veritable treasure trove of antique basketry, weapons, farm tools, trade beads, jars, wooden items and textiles from the Cordillera region, all offering an insight into the rich culture of the Cordillera Igorots.  Ms. Aben gladly explained the history and significance of each individual item on display, starting with her trade bead collection which came at a time when the Igorots traded with the Chinese, Indians, Arabs and other foreigners from the lowlands.   Beads include alligator teeth and mother-of-pearl shells not found in the Cordilleras.  Beaded necklaces from different tribal groups of the Cordilleras (Kalinga, Nabaloi, Ifugao or Igorot)have beading patterns that differ from one ethnic tribe to another.

Ganduyan Museum – Display

We next moved on to the men’s accessories section.  These include a money belt, a warrior’s purse,  pipes, caps (used as pillow and water cup), woven g-strings, anklets, armlets, spoons and amulets (including a snake vertebra believed to increase the warrior’s physical and internal prowess). Drinking  cups for wine, both for men and women, vary in size and kind. Igorots treated status with utmost importance, from clothing (the rich could wear clothes that the poor could not), kitchenware (made from wood,  metal and, sometimes, animal bone, all  classified by social class) and even in death.  Doors, scarves, table runners, warrior’s shields and other accessories are decorated with the lizard (or gecko), animals said to bring luck and longevity.  The many weapons of head hunters of the Cordilleras on display include shields with concave ends (meant to trap the enemy at the neck before the warrior goes for the kill and chops the head off).

Ganduyan Museum: Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province.  Open daily, 8 AM-7 PM.  Admission: PhP25.

Ambasing Road (Sagada, Mountain Province)

After a short siesta at our inn, Jandy and I now decided to hike the now concreted Ambasing Road.  Most of the Sagada‘s inns, restaurants and souvenir shops, a number of them oldtimers,  as well as a number of tourist spots can be found along this road.   As usual, we brought along our jackets and bottles of water.

Ambasing Road

Olahbinan Resthouse and Restaurant, opened in December 1993, is accessed via a stairway.  It has 2 single, 5 double, 2 large double and 2 rooms with bath, a restaurant and a bar with fireplace.   

Stairway leading down to Olahbinan Resthouse

The relocated Shamrock Café, established in 1956, is still one of the most popular places to eat in town.  It offers basic but hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner and its surprisingly international menu includes the Israeli-inspired breakfast dish shakshuka.  Snacks (including homemade yoghurt) and sometimes, a very informal and folksy nighttime entertainment of guitar-strumming local singers are also offered. 

Shamrock Cafe

The relaxing, half log-cladded Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant, a favorite of Manila tourists, serves a variety of meals and snacks, its walls lined with old black and white prints of the late Spanish mestizo photographer Eduardo Masferre.  Also a pension house, it has one 2-bed, three 3-bed and one 4-bed room with common toilet and bath (PhP100-150/pax).   

Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant

The Sagada Igorot Inn, formerly the Sagada Prime Hotel, was opened in March 1997 and is the town’s first hotel.  It has 16 rooms; 12 with private toilet and bath (PhP1,500) and four (PhP1,000) with common toilet and bath.  It also has a restaurant, sing-along (Moonhouse) and offers shuttle and room service.

Sagada Igorot Inn

The 4-storey Canaway Resthouse has 5 rooms with private bath and hot showers (PhP250/pax); 3 in the second floor, all opening to a common living area with sofa and cable TV, and 2 on the third floor with private balcony.  On the ground floor is a kitchen guests can use.

Canaway Resthouse

The 2-storey Yoghurt House, popular with foreign tourists, serves consistently good food such as pasta, salads, vegetarian meals, homemade yoghurt served with fruits, granola or pancakes or mixed as a salad dressing foe fresh vegetables, and drinks.

Yoghurt House

Across Canaway Guest House, on the side of a hill, is the 3-storey Residential Lodge.  It has 14 rooms, some with private baths  (PhP250/pax) and others with shared baths (PhP200/pax).  It also has large common areas, a second floor fireplace and kitchens on the lower ground and ground floors for the use of guests.

Residential Lodge

Next to the Residential Lodge and past the Yoghurt House Restaurant is the no-frills Traveler’s Inn.  It has 2 rooms with private bath (PhP250/pax) and 12 rooms with shared bath (PhP200/pax).  There is a kitchen at the second floor for guest use white downstairs is a general store and a souvenir shop selling pottery.  

Traveler’s Inn

Next to Canaway Resthouse is the new, 4-storey  George Guest House, probably the most colorful and garish building in Sagada.  It has variety of rooms, all with private baths and hot showers: double with cable TV (PhP600), 6 pax room (PhP200/pax), double without cable TV (PhP200/pax or PhP500 for two).  

George Guest House

Canaway Resthouse: mobile number (0918) 291-5063 
George Guest House: mobile numbers (0920) 607-0994 and (0918) 548-0406.  E-mail: george.guesthouse@yahoo.com
Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant: mobile number (0918) 341-6164.
Olahbinan Resthouse and Restaurant: mobile number (0920) 268-3555. 
Residential Lodge: mobile number (0919) 672-8744 (Ms. Mary Daoas).  E-mail: eldone21@hotmail.com and standaoas@yahoo.com.
Sagada Igorot Inn: mobile number (0919) 809-4228.  Baguio City booking office: (074) 442-2622, 444-2734 & 619-5032 (Smart).
Traveler’s Inn: mobile number (0920) 799-2960 (Lope Bosaing).  E-mail: aprilmay_25@yahoo.com  and lopebosaing@yahoo.com.ph.

The Road to Besao (Sagada, Mountain Province)

The road to Besao

Come early morning, on our second day in Sagada,  the skies were now clear of rain and the sun was coming up. I decided to take a walk up the road to Besao to work up an appetite for breakfast at Ganduyan Inn.  Jandy was still asleep so I went out on my own.  I also wanted to check out what’s changed in the town since our first visit in 1998 (http://firingyourimagination.blogspot.com/1998/04/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo.html).  I noticed that some of Sagada’s old familiar inns and restaurants were still around.  

Sagada Guesthouse & Resto

One of these is the Sagada Guesthouse and Resto.  Located just past the new municipal hall, they offer a variety of rooms with varying price ranges and amenities: single (PhP150) and double (PhP300) with common bath, 3-pax rooms with private bath (PhP600), rooms with private bath and kitchen and one with cable TV (PhP1,200).  It also has a ground floor coffee shop.

Log Cabin Restaurant

Another familiar Sagada landmark is the Log Cabin Restaurant, a log-cladded restaurant still popular with foreigners. Its broad menu still offers consistently good, reasonably-priced and hearty meals, including exceptional European-inspired pasta dishes (bolognese and pesto), vegetables, adobo dishes and salads, all prepared by the local French chef.

Log Cabin dining area

They also have an impressive wine list (Hardys Shiraz, Doublebay, Jacob’s Merlot,  Loins Chattel Savvingon, Sta. Rita Cabernet, Lindimans Shiraz, Blasseagle, Antaras Chile, etc.) to choose from, a fireplace and a wide selection of recorded music.  For PhP350, they offer a multi-course buffet on Saturday nights.  You would have to book one day in advance and pay a PhP100 deposit.  For guests, it has an upstairs room with private bath and balcony (PhP800).

Strawberry Cafe

There are also new players in food and accommodation.  Across the Log Cabin is the no frills, corrugated G.I and log-cladded  Strawberry Cafe.  They offer fast food such as arroz caldo (chicken and rice stew) and mami (chicken or pork noodle soup), both for PhP45.  Further off is the 2-storey Alapos View Inn, which also has a coffee shop, and Ganduyan Inn 2.  

Alapos View Inn

Past a lane to the left side of the road is the Sagada Homestay which offers 6 rooms, one of which has a private bath (PhP700) while the 5 others (PhP250/pax) share 4 bathrooms. The ground floor has a large dining room and kitchen for the use of guests.  A separate 2-bedroom, 4-pax cottage with bath and kitchen  rents for PhP1,500.

Sagada Homestay

Continuing further down the road, past the town, would have brought me to Lake Danum in Besao but I’ve already worked up an appetite for breakfast and so I made my way back to Ganduyan Inn.

Alapos View Inn: mobile numbers (0921) 327-9055 and (0918) 332-3331.
Log Cabin Restaurant: mobile number (09320) 520-0463 (Dave Gulian)
Sagada Guesthouse & Resto: mobile number (0919) 300-2763.
Sagada Homestay: mobile numbers (0919) 702-8380, (0918) 717-3524 and (0919) 498-2181. E-mail: sagadahomestay@yahoo.com.

Ganduyan Inn (Sagada, Mountain Province)

Ganduyan Inn

It was raining during more than half of our 6.5-hr.  trip from Baguio City to Sagada and it was still raining when our bus arrived at Sagada by 6:30 PM.  From the bus stop, Jandy and I ran towards the accommodation  nearest the bus stop – the 3-storey Ganduyan Inn.  This wasn’t our first time to stay here, having been here 13 years ago (in 1998).  Back then, we stayed in a spartan room without private bath (PhP75 per head).  The common baths then had no hot water.  Still managing the inn were Marina and Hanzel Biag.  This time, Jandy and I stayed in a slightly bigger (though still spartan) room with twin beds and a private bath with hot water (PhP750 per day).

Twin room with private bath

Since the inn’s coffee shop didn’t offer dinner (they only serve breakfast), Jandy and I walked to the basement of the nearby Edward Longid Centrum, an Episcopalian church-raised commercial building inaugurated last January 25, 2010, where we had a delicious dinner of pork asado and roast chicken plus a cup of Sagada’s signature brewed coffee at Cuisina Igorota. The basement also has 2 other local restaurants (Dap-Ayan Sagada and 7J’s Diner & Snack Haus), all offering various local cuisine at a very cheap price. The town’s pharmacy is also located at the second floor of the building.

Edward Longid Centrum

The still popular Ganduyan Inn, at the very center of town, is one of the very earliest guest houses in Sagada and part of the building incorporates the re-opened Ganduyan Museum and Ganduyan Souvenirs.  At its small cafe, we had a good choice breakfast of either bacon, longanisatocino or corned beef with fried egg and brewed Sagada coffee.  They also serve pancakes (honey, banana yogurt & honey, blueberry jam and banana & honey), sandwiches (ham & cheese, tuna & cheese, bacon & cheese, ham, egg & cheese and tuna, egg & cheese), crepes (nutella, apple, banana yogurt & honey, blueberry jam and banana & honey), omelets (vegetable, cheese, tuna & cheese and ham & cheese) and yogurt (banana, cornflakes & honey, banana, granola & honey, blueberry jam, fruits & honey and banana & honey).

Coffee shop

A second building going by the same name (Ganduyan Inn 2), located about 200 m. uphill from the old building and along the road to the next town of Besao, was opened in December 2009.  It has 7 rooms with private bathrooms, some with balconies with great views over the town.

Ganduyan Inn 2
Ganduyan Inn: Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province.  Mobile number: (0921) 273-8097 (Smart) and (0927) 434-0212 (Globe).  E-mail : ganduyan_inn@yahoo.com.

The Halsema Mountain Highway

After breakfast at the Albergo Hotel in Baguio City, Jandy and I packed just enough clothes for our 2-night stay in Sagada (Mountain Province) and left the rest at the Front Office.  From the hotel, we took a taxi to G.L. Liner terminal at the Dangwa Compound along Magsaysay Ave., fronting the Baguio Market.  We just missed the previous Sagada-bound bus by minutes so we paid the fare for the next bus, scheduled at 10:30 AM.  We spent the next hour at the Baguio Cathedral, climbing the steep stairs along Session Rd. to get there.  Here, we had snacks at the coffee shop within the compound before returning to the terminal.

The now paved Halsema Highway

A few after our return to the terminal, our designated bus arrived and we boarded the bus, sitting up front, to the right of the driver.  Soon, sacks, farm produce as well as luggage and bags were also being loaded around our area, making alighting a problem later for us.  We left the terminal just before 11 AM but, just before the interchange leading to La Trinidad Rd., traffic slowed us down due to road rehabilitation.  After 30 mins., we left the hustle and bustle of Baguio City and La Trinidad and were now on our way on our long-haul, 6.5-hr. drive to Sagada via the Halsema Highway, the highest highway system in the country.

Landslides and road slips are still a common occurence

Formerly called the “Mountain Trail,” this spectacular 146-km. (95 kms. of which are in Benguet) highway traverses Benguet from south to north.  Named after Eusebius Julius Halsema (American civil engineer and mayor of Baguio City, 1920 to 1936), it links La Trinidad and Baguio City with Bontoc, Sagada (151 kms.) and Banaue (196 kms.), cutting through mountain peaks, gorges and steep cliffs.   This highway was originally a foot trail used by mountain folk between Bontoc and the foot of Mt. Data.  U.S. Army engineers improved and widened it.  They also built a new winding road through precipitous slopes and traversing high ridges between Acops and Abatan,  The road reached Natubleng in 1928 and more than half its length (to Bontoc) was completed in 1931. All told, the highway took more than 15 years to build and was finally completed in 1936.

Fog can reduce visibility of the driver

Tracing a circuitous path, this road crosses the massive Cordillera Central mountain range, crossing deep ravines and skirting dangerous slopes. Jandy and I have passed this way before (in 1998), more than half the road then being unpaved, bumpy, rough and dusty. Today, about 95% of the highway is”paved.”  Still, landslides are a constant hazard here and big stones and debris tumble from peaks, especially during the rainy and typhoon season.  Occasional fog can also ruin a driver’s visibility. However, then and now, we stilled passed through some of the most spectacular mountain vistas found anywhere – magnificent, stonewalled rice and vegetable terraces; swift-flowing rivers spanned by hanging bridges; roadside waterfalls; pine-clad mountains; picturesque villages; etc..

Vegetable terraces
Along Km. 40, approaching Mt. Toyangan, we had good views of the 33-hectare Naguey Rice Terraces, along the banks of the Naburgo River (which joins the Amburayan River below Kibungan) in Brgy. Naguey in Atok. These stonewalled terraces are planted with both rice and vegetables.  The Amburayan River runs for about 30 kms. from Brgys. Pasdong to Naguey. Near Atok’s municipal hall, our bus made a highway stopover for a late lunch at Morning Star Restaurant and Fastfood.
 
Highest Point Marker in Atok

About 3 hrs. past Baguio City, we passed (but did not stop at) the Highest Point Marker (Philippine Pali), along Km. 53 (Km. 303), Brgy. Cattubo near Bayangan in Atok.  Here, the road crosses 2,450-m. high Mt. Paoay.  The highest point of all Philippine highways (7,400 ft. or 2,225 m. above sea level), its viewpoint has good views of Mt. Pulag, Mt. Timbac, Kabayan, Atok and the deep Agno Valley to the south (cloudy during the rainy season).

A beautiful, terraced mountainside

Along Km. 63 are the vast Natubleng Vegetable Terraces of Brgy. Natubleng in  Buguias.  Here, neat rows and upright trellises are planted with temperate-zone climate greens such as Baguio beans, cabbage, carrots and other vegetables and root crops.  We also passed the urbanized townships of Sayangan (Atok) at Km. 54 and Abatan (Buguias) at Km. 90.

The township of Abatan in Buguias
After the copper mining town of Mankayan, we entered Mountain Province at the town of Bauko, site of the 2,310 m. high Mt. Data and the Philippine Tourism Authority-managed Mt. Data Hotel, then on to Sabangan, the town before Sagada.  We exited the Halsema Highway when we turned left at the Dantay Junction where the still partly unpaved,10 km. road to Sagada starts.

Good Friday in Sagada (Mountain Province)

Good Friday, our last whole day in Sagada, was partly spent in prayer.  Together with my Danum Lake companions who were also staying in my inn, we made our way past the school gate and up some steps to the cemetery where Eduardo Masferre, the famous photographer (June 24, 1995), and William Henry Scott (1993), are buried.  It has a view of the northern valley.  Further up is Calvary, the highest point in the town cemetery which is marked with a huge cross.  Here, we visited and prayed at its 14 Stations of the Cross.

Sagada Cemetery

From the cemetery, a steep path took us to Echo Valley.  Halfway down, we viewed hanging coffins on large, gray limestone cliffs at the opposite side and some small burial caves.  There are still a few sangadil (“death chairs”) next to the hanging coffins, placed there for the spirits to rest on.

Hanging coffins

When a Sagadan nears old age, he is given the choice of cave burial or “hanging coffins.”  The deceased is cladded in special burial attire woven by a widow in the village.  This ensures that the spirit (anito) community would recognize them and admit them to the spirit world.

They are bound to a sangadil (death chair) and placed on the house porch for the duration of the long makibaya-o (wake period).  During the makibaya-o, pigs are sacrificed, dirges are sung and eulogies given during the all-night vigils.

The empty coffin is first taken to the burial site (cave or rock ledges).  The funeral procession follows later, preceded by torchbearers who make sure that no animals crosses its path.  When bad omens are encountered, the previously selected burial site could be changed at the last moment in the belief that the new arrival is not welcomed by the present occupants.

The deceased’s body is borne by young lads who vie with one another for the honor of carrying it the furthest distance.  In doing so, it is believed that he would gain much strength and wisdom from the deceased.  Today, these traditional rites are still being practiced, although on a smaller or revised scale, and still requested by some old people.

However, most are now buried on family land or at the Christian cemetery. The makibaya-o, whether traditional, Christian or in combination, is still significant in adult deaths.

The next day, Saturday, after breakfast at the inn, Jandy and I left Sagada on the 10 AM jeepney bound for Bontoc.

Lake Danum (Besao, Mountain Province)

The next day, Holy Thursday (and Araw ng Kagitingan as well), Jandy and I decided to join 8 other guests of the inn I was staying in who were going on a 4-km. uphill hike, along the almost empty, party rough Besao Rd., to Lake Danum (derived from the Kankanai or Ilocano word meaning “water”).   From a vantage point along this road, we had a panoramic view of Sagada town nestled between mountains. After about an hours hike, we turned left on a fork on the road and reached the lake.

Lake Danum

This lake which I actually mistook for a pond is actually referred to by the locals as a lake.  It is peaceful and its grassy and shady ground makes it ideal for picnicking and camping.  Some sort of blackberries were in bloom and some members of the group tried some.   In front of the lake is a hill which, according to the locals, offers a great view of the setting sun behind the mountains.  Unfortunately, we didn’t plan to wait that long.

It was the peak of the El Nino phenomenon when I arrived in Sagada but, even if the lake’s water level was low, its color remained torquiose green instead of orange as was usually the case.  The lake is also a jump-off point for trekking the 1,899-m. high Mt. Ampacao, the highest mountain near Sagada.  Another hour’s walk past the lake would have brought us to the next town of Besao, another pleasant and mostly Anglican town with more rice terraces.  Here, Lake Danum is called Lake Banao.  However, we gave up on the idea and just hitched a ride on a passing vehicle on its way back to Sagada.

Hiking along Bontoc Road (Sagada, Mountain Province)

We spent the whole afternoon hiking along Bontoc Road. On both sides of the road is the 34-hectare Mission Compound.  It includes St. Theodore’s Hospital (established in 1926), the Rectory, the recently restored Doctor’s Residence, the Girl’s Dormitory (established in 1912) and residence  of American historian William Henry Scott. Across St. Theodore’s Hospital  is the DOT accredited and Episcopalian parish-operated St. Joseph’s Resthouse. Further out along Bontoc Road, on the left, is Sagada Weaving & Souvenir Shop.  Established  in 1978, it produces quality products hand-woven on backstrap looms and supervised by Mrs. Andrea Bondad and daughter Rhoda.  Finished products sold at reasonable prices include backpacks, shoulder bags, tapis (Igorot skirts), wallets and blankets.

Masferre Photographs

Further out along Bontoc Road, at the Bagaan Road Junction, is the Masferre Gallery.  Here, Mrs. Nena Masferre, wife of the late photographer Eduardo Masferre, welcomed us.  In the 1930s, 40s and 50s, through his pioneering skill and sensitivity as a photographer, Eduardo took photographs of the vanishing life and culture in the villages of Mountain Province. Mrs. Masferre showed us the black and white photographs taken by her husband and a few maps and artifacts.

Eduardo, a Spanish mestizo, was born on April 18, 1909, the second of eight children.  He was the son of Jaime P. Masferre, a retired Spanish soldier from Cataluna, who settled in Sagada at the turn of the century, became a coffee farmer, married an Kankanai woman (Mercedes Cunyap Langkew), joined the Episcopal Church and became a minister.  From 1914 to 1921, Eduardo first lived with his family in Spain where he began his education.  After completing his schooling in the Philippines, he became a missionary teacher like his father and then a missionary administrator.  In addition, he took up farming.

In the 1920s, he learned photography from U.S. missionaries.  Returning to photography in 1934, his artistic focus were the mountain people of the Cordilleras with whom he shares part of his heritage.  After World War II, he opened a photographic studio in Bontoc.  In 1951, he married Nena Ogues, a nurse from Kapangan.  The union produced six children.

His grainy, high contrast monochrome photos are displayed here and around the world.  His first exhibit was held in Manila in 1982.  After a second Manila exhibit the following year, his work traveled to Copenhagen (1984) and Tokyo (1986).  In 1988, his third Manila exhibit was mounted.  A book of his work, “E. Masferre: People of the Philippine Cordillera” was also produced.  Mobil Philippines funded the work, provided 1,500 copies to Philippine schools, museums and libraries, and funded the touring exhibit of his works to the cities of Baguio, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Bacolod.

In 1989, Masferre exhibited his works at Les Recontres International de la Photographie in Arles (France), the only Filipino to be accorded such an honor.  In 1990, again with Mobil support, the Smithsonian Institute of Washington D.C. purchased 120 of his impressive original photos and exhibited them for six months at the main rotunda of the American National Museum of Natural History.  They are now carefully archived in the same museum.  He died on June 24, 1995 at the age of 86.

Jandy with Ms. Nena Masferre

Plodding on, we reached a bend opposite the Rocky Valley Inn.  Here, a path lead down to the small Matangkib Burial Cave. However, it was closed due to the recent death of a hapless Irish tourist who slipped and broke his head.  Coffins here are carefully stacked. At  the lower end of the path, to the left of Matangkib burial cave, is the unmistakable mouth of the Latang Underground River.  We didn’t bring along a good flashlight and weren’t prepared for a 15-min./500-m. spelunking hike through  cold, knee-deep waters and a scramble over rocks.  It was late in the day and we made our way back to the inn.

Latang Underground River

The night was chilly and foggy.  Tourists from Manila were beginning to arrive, all looking for places to stay and most without any success.  Even St. Theodore’s hospital beds were rented out (barring any emergencies) for PhP45 per head.  Others camped out on the Mission grounds while others just slept in their vehicles.  Poor fellows.  Sagada has a reputation as a meeting place for travelers and I also made a number of friends during my stay.  Many were guests staying at the inn while the others I met were straying in the town’s  different coffee shops.