Luzon Mountain Province Philippines Travel

7 things to do in Bontoc, Mountain Province

By on October 5, 2014

things to do in bontoc - other scenes

The first time I stepped in Bontoc was in 2011. Back then, my friends and I were on our way to Sagada and merely stopped over by its poblacion to withdraw additional cash.

I could still remember that it was raining that Saturday afternoon. But I managed to excuse myself from the group and told them that I’ll just take a photo of the Rizal Monument. It would have been the only image and memory I have of Bontoc, until I got the chance to visit again the place last month.

Bontoc, compared to Sagada, Banaue or Kalinga, is often overlooked. But there are other activities that can be done here at the crossroad town of Mountain Province.

 

Meet a vegan boar at the Bontoc Museum

Entrance Fee: Php 60.00 | Opens daily, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Head first to the Bontoc Museum which is now curated and run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (SIHM), an indigenous missionary congregation in the region. It has well-organized collections showcasing the various traditions, ritual artifacts and heirloom pieces of the seven ethnolinguistic groups in the Cordilleras.

things to do in bontoc - museum

Taking photos is not allowed inside by the way, but you can take a lot of selfies at the outdoor museum where one can find a representation of a traditional Bontoc ili (village), and a charming, vegan native pig. One of the museum staff said that it thrives on tongsuey, a local organic watercress.

On your way out drop by the museum’s souvenir shop for some Lingling-o pendants and other keepsakes to bring back to your friends and family.

 

Try the Littuko

The littuko (Rattan Fruit) is common perhaps in Luzon, but it was my first time to see and taste the fruit in Bontoc. Its skin is light-yellow and has scales resembling those of a snake.

things to do in bontoc - littoko

It is mind-numbing sour for such a small fruit. The taste is probably acquired and does take some time getting used to. I wonder though if the littuko can be an alternative souring agent for the sinigang.

 

Wade in the Chico River

Although the Chico is probably one of the most ubiquitous sight in this landlocked province, my colleague and I were unable to see the river up close or wade on its cool waters. From the town center, one can easily access its river banks somewhere near the Chico Jumbo Bridge.

things to do in bontoc - chico river

 

Sample the Pinikpikan with Etag

Pinipikan is a chicken dish that is unique in these parts. It is also not for the faint-hearted. But if you get past its unorthodox preparation, i.e, the fowl is slowly and lightly beaten at its wings and then burnt, you’ll find it to be a strangely satisfying meal.

things to do in bontoc - pinikpikan

Make your dinner more interesting by ordering the etag or the local salted pork. This is usually cooked with the pinikpikan and adds a welcome layer of brine to the overly rich broth. We had the pinikipikan-etag combo at Junny’s Sagada Lunch, one of the many mom-and-pop restaurants along the highway. It takes an hour to prepare this house specialty, so you may want to order it in advance.

 

Drink as much local coffee as you can

It would be really unforgiveable and unthinkable if you have your morbidly sweet 3-in-1 sachets in Bontoc. That’s not even coffee.

Drink up instead on the local brew and you’ll help ensure a coffee tradition, one that’s older than your multinational coffeeshops in the metropolis, to continue into the future.

things to do in bontoc - kalinga coffee

Might I add that the few that we had at Churya-a Hotel and Restaurant comes really cheap at Php 20.00. If this was served in a snazzier place with soft jazz music playing on the background, it will probably cost you 10x more to enjoy the same cup.

 

Visit the View Deck

Soak in the sights and the fresh air at the Bontoc View Deck. At this elevation, you can see Bontoc’s fertile valley and the Chico River weaving through it. This perspective allows you a sneak peek as to why the people here are very proud of their place.

things to do in bontoc - viewpoint

Getting to the view deck involves a long, uphill drive. The good thing is that Miguel, our trike driver, was skilled and eager to take us there. He was also generous with his stories and his moma that afternoon.

 

Just walk around

While a well-outlined travel itinerary would allow you to save time, nothing beats an ‘unstructured’ walk around the town.

things to do in bontoc - walk around

Such was the case for us. In just a few hours, my friend and I got to see how the people in Bontoc do their day-to-day tasks – old women selling smoked fish by the roadside, students playing basketball at the plaza and anxious passengers waiting for their rides back home.

To me, these small snapshots paint a more vivid picture of what a place looks like, after all the tourist buses have left or during those sacred minutes at dawn when most are still asleep.

So just walk around Bontoc. This might take you as far as the Maligcong Rice Terraces or just around the block. Either way, you lose nothing, except some portion of your weight perhaps, when you do just that.

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4 Comments
  1. Reply

    Kim Halasan

    October 22, 2014

    Coffee. Brewed. Uphill. Those are enough to make me want to visit the place.

    Lovely Bren. I feel you are having the time of your life. 🙂

    • Reply

      bren | www.baktincorporation.com

      October 22, 2014

      Thanks Kim. You're on a roll yourself with your Europe series and that brand new, sleek layout too.

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Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokémon GO or not.

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