Philippine Tribes

The Sama Tribe teaches us to make Amik

On this particular sunny October day, the community was buzzing with activity. The Sama Tribe in Bgy. Tagbaobo, Samal Island were preparing for the death anniversary of one of their tribe members, and we were smack in the middle of it.

The tribe knew that I was coming to visit, I was housed next door and had previously spoken to Ms. Zenaida, their Community President. I approached the busy group awkwardly that morning, and it was then I was greeted with a local dance and then offered amik (local rice snack) and coffee (ground with corn).

The story goes, amik is what the Sama Tribe will offer guests and family members during the death anniversary celebration itself. The actual anniversary date is November 11 and since they need to produce at least 200 pieces, the whole barangay is up to their elbows in work. And thankfully, they were willing to let me pitch in.

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The charming old town of Kiangan, Ifugao

My first encounter of the word “Ifugao” was my Mom’s faded and dusty photo that I brought with me to Show & Tell back in Grade School. On it was an actual Ifugao (the tribe) posed in “attack” mode, behind him was the famous terraces. I remember holding the crumbly photo in my hand and thinking, wouldn’t it be amazing to be transported back in time to see how everything used to be?

Kiangan_Elegantly Wasted 9

Although it would take decades before I’d set foot up north (I was always a beach bunny and never a trekker), I was happy to be able to experience the rich culture via the Tourism Promotions Board product update trip. More than just a quick getaway from Manila, I see it as a way to experience our different cultures and explore lesser known parts of the Philippines. Grouped with travel enthusiasts and experts, the expeditions are always more educational and in-depth.

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A quick guide to South Cotabato, Sarangani, and General Santos City

Thinking of your next big vacation? Divert from the usual tourist traps such as Palawan, Cebu, or Boracay and experience the unique culture of SOX. Short for SOCCSKSARGEN, it’s the development cluster referring to 4 provinces and 1 city in central Mindanao, namely South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City. If you’ve ever wanted to explore Mindanao, then this is the perfect time to visit as SOX has so much to offer.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY

GenSan, the city synonymous with our Phil. boxer Manny Pacquiao, is usually the starting point for any traveler. Here are some of the spots you have to check out when you come visit:

3DOE Ecopark and Restaurant

Adrenaline junkies, take your pick from the ATVs or buggies to get to the next cultural destination. I chose to drive an ATV myself on the way to Lamlifew Cultural Village in Sarangani. The travel time is 1-1.5 hours passing through scenic rice fields and involves crossing two rivers. The drive itself was fun, perfect if you already know how to drive a car or a scooter as it’s pretty easy.

Tip: Wear trekking sandals as you will get wet! Don’t forget your sunblock, too. 

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Stories from Ifugao: Innug and Noel Balenga

I’ve met so many wonderful people while traveling, some in the most random of places. While I wish I could share with you everything I’ve tried, encountered, or felt; oftentimes there is simply not enough time nor the words to adequately describe the experience. I hope to blog about them someday or maybe share them with my grandchildren when I am old and grey.

These are the two fascinating people I met during my trip to the province of Ifugao. When I had lost all hope of a story, fate intervened and I met both Innug and Noel on my 3rd day while exploring Hungduan.

INNUG, Ifugao farmer

I was not paying close attention while trekking the stonewall of the Hapao Rice Terraces. I stumbled while on the way down as my left foot stepped into a ditch, I was getting absent-minded and careless. Thankfully, I was able to hold on to Billy’s back as I fell which offered me enough stability to stand up and get my bearings. “Are you okay?” he asked. I laughed and fluffed my shirt. “No biggie,” I replied.

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Innug harvesting rice

Then out of nowhere, I spotted an Ifugao harvesting. She watched us inquisitively as we trekked by. It’s customary to ask permission before taking a photo, as most tribes fear that cameras and pictures take a bit of their soul. I was told by the guide that it was perfectly fine, and so I snapped a few.

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6 Fun facts about Davao City

What do you know about Davao? For me, it’s synonymous with Durian, the smelly fruit-slash-aphrodisiac that many people go crazy about. I know of Mati, the popular pristine beach and surf spot in Davao Oriental, and of course Samal Island in Davao del Norte.

For this post we’ll focus on the largest city and 3rd most populated metropolis in the Philippines (next to Metro Manila and Cebu), Davao City. Home to President Duterte and deemed as the “safest” city in the Philippines, here are 6 facts you must know about Davao City:

1. Kadayawan is a unique festival in the Philippines

The Kadayawan Festival is celebrated every 3rd week of August and is a must-see if you’re headed to Davao for the first time.  What makes Kadayawan different from Sinulog, Masskara, or Ati-Atihan? While these are all fabulous festivals (and I urge you to go to every one to experience our rich culture), Kadayawan is the only non-religious Thanksgiving celebration in the country.

Kadayawan Festival 2017

Kadayawan Festival 2017

Davao has long been considered as “garden of the Gods” for its fertile land and bountiful harvest, which is why during the 1800s Americans and the Spaniards tried to conquer this province. Food here is affordable, fresh, and delicious, so much so that there are weekly food fests in different malls and parks where a meal can go for Php 20-Php 150. I tell you, we never stopped eating in Davao City!  Read More

A day with the Aeta Tribe of Zambales

Our favorite The Circle Hostel now hosts Tribes & Treks, a full-day intense tour that leads to Sitio Yangil in San Felipe, Zambales where an Aeta tribe resides. This is a regular weekend event where slots get filled up fast, so Ian and I signed up right away last November 5.

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Now, we didn’t really do any prior preps as we were thinking that this was going to be a cinch. While none of us have had any actual trekking experience that involved hours climbing a mountain (a hill in Batanes for me maybe?), the initial problem we encountered was that Ian was apparently bad with directions. The supposed 3-hour drive to Zambales extended into 4.5 hours because we were busy chatting in the car and we missed a turn.

The second problem was the trek was supposed to start at 8:00 am on a Saturday, and yet at 2:00 am we were still on the road to the hostel. You could say, Ian was terribly embarrassed and stressed out while driving while we (another passenger and I) couldn’t stop laughing about this little mishap.

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