Luzon Mountain Province Philippines Travel

En route to Bontoc, Mountain Province

By on October 4, 2014

en route to bontoc - front page photo

Kuya, pababa po sa may Churya-a ha,” I told the konduktor as our D Rising Sun bus was nearing Bontoc, the capital town of Mountain Province in Northern Philippines.

I was seated a few rows opposite Andrew, an intrepid backpacker, who by this time was munching on what looked and tasted like puto. He probably read my mind or I looked visibly hungry that’s why he gave me his last piece. I looked at my watch and it was close to 3:00 PM. The last meal we had was that bulalo breakfast in Baguio.

From our bus door, I could make out the Chico river meandering below the highway. We will realize a few days later or as we made our way to Buscalan, that this view of the restless Chico snaking through majestic rice terraces, farming villages and hanging bridges – all these picturesque sights are quite common in these parts.

en route to bontoc - chico river

Remembering Yeti

Yet I am not complaining at all. I try to soak in everything in the Cordilleras, whether I’ve seen it before or otherwise. In fact I have been to this portion in the Halsema, albeit traveling in an opposite direction.

A few years ago, my friends and I were headed to Baguio after our whirlwind adventures in Sagada. Inside that full bus, I was seated beside a cute freelance writer, whose name I unfortunately forgot. Allow me to call her ‘Yeti’ for now.

I would have wanted to enjoy the scenery that Tuesday morning, but I was admittedly engrossed by Yeti’s travel exploits, mountaineering adventures and even by her brief stint as an adult film reviewer. I could still remember how she uttered ‘heaving’ and made a mental note to use the adjective in a blog entry someday to describe something that’s breathing and irresistibly pleasurable at the same time.

en route to bontoc - atok

Time flies fast when you find yourself in a conversation that’s both deep and meaningless. Before we knew it, we passed by the highest point in the Philippine National Highway. I think Yeti noticed that she did most of the talking the entire time, so she casually asked if I was happy with my life.

I stared blankly at her for a good few seconds.

“Brennan, it’s a quite straightforward question, one that’s answerable with a yes or no,” she added. Why it took me so long to fashion a reply could be a separate blog entry by itself. But to make the long story short, I managed to answer her Ms. Universe-esque question, with a rather convoluted explanation too, as we entered La Trinidad in Benguet.

en route to bontoc - at churya-a


Affordable stay at Churya-a

Opo. Sa may tapat mismo ng Churya-a namin kayo ibababa,” the konduktor reassured me in a tone that’s between amused and annoyed.

As our bus entered the Bontoc town proper, I was unnecessarily melodramatic recalling Yeti’s ‘straightforward’ question. Maybe it was my real age catching up. Maybe it opened a bunch of even harder life questions that I’ve been avoiding all this time.

We alighted right in front of the 4-storey hotel and settled for a basic accommodation by the terrace. I could see why Charlie, our Buscalan contact, recommended Churya-a after he learned that we won’t be coming from Tabuk that day.

For one, Churya-a’s room rates are very affordable even if the hotel was located at the center of Bontoc. The town plaza, the various bus terminals and the market were also just a few blocks away.

en route to bontoc - churya-a accommodations

en route to bontoc - at churya-a2

After we finished our first of many cups of Kalinga coffee that weekend, I was still not sure what we will do next in Bontoc. But for some strange reason, I was both excited and happy at the thought of getting lost for the next few hours.

Yeti’s question was thankfully, already a distant blur as we walked towards the town plaza.

Churya-a Hotel and Restaurant
Main Poblacion, Bontoc, Mountain Province
Room rates start at Php 500, good for 2 pax.
+63 906 430 0853 | +63 917 575 1253 | +63 908 177 5138

All unwatermarked photos are courtesy of A. Desabelle and G. Leteracion. They are used here with their permission.

  1. Reply


    October 4, 2014

    nice3x. but pls refrain from using flowery adjectives on me. hehe

    • Reply

      bren |

      October 4, 2014

      Noted sir. How about fruity and vegetable-y adjectives then? hehe

    • Reply


      October 5, 2014

      Hahaha I would like to read a post that has some fruity and vegetable-y adjectives.

      So, Baktin, are you happy with your life?

    • Reply

      bren |

      October 5, 2014

      Uhmmm…. I believe that…. 🙂

  2. Reply

    LouiePac | A Nomad's Perspectives

    October 4, 2014

    The Universe will lead you back to Yeti, whoever/whatever she is. _/_
    Where's my Kalinga Coffee?!!

    • Reply

      bren |

      October 4, 2014

      Migs, your Kalinga coffee is still at Kalinga. 😉


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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