Alab Oriente is the name of this destination. What makes this village unique is the presence of an evidence signifying a prehistoric community that flourished just even before the birth of Jesus Christ. Aside from this, it can also offer a dose of adrenaline-driven adventures suitable for the brave soul. The following are not-the-usual destinations you should visit in Alab Oriente Village in Bontoc, Mountain Province covered with myth and legends, rich history and incredibly amazing culture and heritage.
ALAB PETROGLYPHS | These are prehistoric etchings visible on the surface of a boulder located on a cliff in a mountain they call as Mt. Data. Experts believe that these marks are more than 3000 years old depicting the fertility rites and rituals of the early inhabitants.
GANGA CAVES | This is a collective name for 3 burial caves also located in Mt. Data of Alab Oriente. The shallow caves are the resting ground of people, which according to the legend, died because of eating poisonous food from a supernatural being as a form of punishment. More than a hundred dead people stuck inside thick pinewood capsules have been placed here mysteriously. The coffins could be heavier than the weight of an average man boggling people’s mind how these coffins were brought up to the steep slope of the mountain.
SACRED GROUNDS | The rich culture and heritage of this tribal village is still very alive and the presence of sacred grounds are still recognized by the residents. Alab Village has the following sacred grounds:
- ATO: This sacred ground is a place where members of the tribe practice their customs and traditions often delivered in the form of singing, dancing and playing of gongs (gansa) in honor of their gods. It was mainly a paganistic ritual which does not jive with the Christian point of view.
- PATPATAYAN: This sacred ground is a place believed by the residents to have an effect to their health. The villagers offer animals here for the gods in exchange of good health and cure to their illnesses.
- KABINGLIWAN: This is the location of a thick bamboo forest in Alab. No one in the community is allowed to cut any bamboo here since it is considered as a great crime. Something bad will happen if the bamboos are cut or altered. People believe that the kabingwilan is the reason for some weather disturbances and to stop it, the villagers have to offer pigs or chickens.
JAR BURIAL | One of the burial caves in Mt. Data is the location of a jar with skeletons inside. This burial ritual is believed to have happened those times when the so-called “tulay na lupa” connecting the Philippines to other Southeast Asian countries was still existing.
HOW TO GO HERE?
From downtown Bontoc, you can ride on a Baguio-bound bus then just drop at Alab Oriente. Travel time is around 20-30 minutes. You can also hire a tricycle at 120 pesos one way.
- Go to the Barangay Hall and register. Leaders of this village require every visitor to have a guide.
- Bring a lot of water. The hike can last to 4-6 hours depending on your speed and endurance.
- Eat a heavy meal. Don’t bring unnecessary baggage.