The day was hot yet cool, a typical Baguio day when the sun is up in the clear skies. We all had our bags in the van, as we waited for someone to bring one key element needed for the journey – metal ware for us to cook rice. Good thing a lady passed by, selling peanuts. We munched and stood by at a local gasoline station, awaiting the very important delivery.
It was lunch time but we haven’t had lunch yet. So after we had our pots and pans, bought a stove at a local supermarket, and decided finally where to eat, we stopped by at the municipality of Sablan, Benguet, en route to Abra.
A common perception on the province would be its brutal political culture. Though I might have exaggerated that a bit, the fact remains that politics in Abra is one ‘pointy’ and ‘sensitive’ issue [if you know what I mean *imagine Mr.-Bean-face*]
We arrived around six in the evening, with an impromptu tutorial of ‘deep’ Ilocano language. Asking for directions proved to be difficult, as people would frequently mention, ‘abagatan,’ ‘daya,’ ‘amianan,’ and ‘la-ud.’ At first, you would just nod along with what they were saying. Asking the second person though, again for directions, proved to be an opportunity to ask yet another question, “Apay anya ti abagatan?” [What is abagatan?]
And when they answered, we were like:
[amianan = north, abagatan = south, laud = west, daya = …]
Well, being at the place where we were supposed to stay brought relief from all those direction asking. It was time to rest.
The following day would be field work. It turns out that Abra was not that really ‘exploding’ [at that point in time]. We felt like we were just in another place in the low lands, hearing familiar words being spoken here and there, witnessing the cars and tricycles weaving along the streets, feeling the moist and warm air sticking on your skin.
Talking with a number of people though brought us back to the preconceptions we had before. One said that more people die by the bullet, than by diseases. Another shared how they resigned from their job because of a newly elected official, and how cars can get free designs composed of a lot of holes. Even those who were with me heard gun shots in the early morning hours.
These events would seem frightening indeed, but eventually, masasanay ka rin [you will get used to it]. Furthermore, I find the place relatively safe during non-election times. Well, heck, okay, I can go to Bangued, even if it is election time. 😀
In a span of two days, we had asked all the things we needed to ask from people here and there. Asking where Casamata Hill was, was next.
Locals know well how one could go to Victoria Park on Casamata Hill National Park. The road is asphalted and uphill, wherein you’ll pass by the DOH municipal office [on the left side] and the DENR office, as you go higher up the road. And when you are finally there:
Blogs about Bangued, Abra:
Postcards from Miss Igorota: http://missigorota.blogspot.com/2011/04/miss-iggy-at-casamata-hill-bangued-abra.html
Tourist Attractions in Bangued: http://bangued.multiply.com/journal/item/8
Exotic and Mystical Abra: http://s4.zetaboards.com/Igorot_Pride/topic/424013/1/