Mountain Province (Filipino: Lalawigang Bulubundukin), is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Bontoc.
Mountain Province was formerly referred to as Mountain in some foreign references. The name is usually shortened by locals to Mt. Province. The province was named so for being in the Cordillera Central mountain range found in the upper realms of Luzon island.
Mountain Province was also the name of the historical province that included most of the current Cordillera provinces. This old province was established by the Philippine Commission in 1908, and was later split in 1966 into Mountain Province, Benguet, Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao.
The province is also known for its mummy caves, which contain naturally mummified bodies, and for its hanging coffins.
The best tourist spots in Mountain Province:
1. Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces are terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. They are frequently called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The terraces are located approximately 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps were put end to end, it would encircle half the globe. The age of the terraces are believed by many to being over a 2,000 years old as postulated by anthropologist Otley Beyer.
2. Sumaguing Cave
There are over 60 caves discovered underneath the town of Sagada. Of all of these underworlds, Sumaguing Cave has the biggest chamber, earning its nickname “The Big Cave.” Samuning Cave is also the deepest cave in the Philippines with a depth of more than 500 feet. There is a man-made staircase from the roadside that leads into the mouth of Sumaguing Cave. The stairs slowly transform into rocks as you walk farther. The more you look ahead and look down, the more it becomes clear how challenging an experience it will be especially to first-time spelunkers.
The trail is divided into three stages.
1. The descent – From the mouth of the cave, the tour guide would lead the group down the steep, bat-poop-covered cliff. The path to the bat cave is slippery, so holding onto rocks along the way makes for a safe descent. Spelunkers should just pretend that the slimy rocks they’re holding on to are not covered with bat pee!
2. The easy part – With a reassuring gesture, the tour guide would ask the group to remove footwear since walking barefoot allows better traction than walking with any non-slippery footwear on. Crossing the wet slope that bridges the bat cave to the looming chambers from afar could stir fear, but as one learns how to move without slipping, worries seem to subside along with the eerie squelch of the bats. Reaching the second stage – where the cave’s bath house and several notable rock formations are found – would be a relief because spelunkers can rinse their dingy hands and feet in the shimmery streams of water.
3. The difficult part – It is in this phase where every first-timer’s spelunking skill would be put to test. They would slide and slip, crawl and leap, and at times rappel to move from one area to another. Guides are there to support all the way, that they are willing to be a “human ladder” to make the descent in difficult terrain less strenuous and frightening. As the process gets more challenging, the more the cave reveals impressive rock formations, such as the King’s Curtain, Rice Terraces, and the huge hall called the Dancing Hall. The glassy limpid pools are also a sight to behold.
The cave is challenging but really worth to see, so take tour guide with you, choose light, easy to dry, and stretchable clothes. Use sturdy and non-slippery footwear. Do not bring kids with you!
3. Echo Valley Hanging Coffins
Sagada’s most popular attractions are the hanging coffins of Echo Valley: some are centuries old while others are only a few years old. Most are high up the sheer rock face, leading you to wonder how this was originally done. Animist tribal folk believed that putting their dead in steep crevices made their loved ones nearer to the gods. Though the requirements are unclear, it’s important to note that not everyone is qualified to be buried in this way. For one, the deceased needs to have been married with grandchildren, among other things.
4. Bomod-ok Falls
Hidden deep in a valley, it takes an hour to two to get here by foot from the main road. Bomod-ok’s cold water cascades from the top of a beautiful naturally contoured cliff to a pool below, forming a 200-ft column of water and wonder.
5. Fight with Igorots (Ifugaos) 🙂
Igorot, or Cordillerans, is the collective name of several Austronesian ethnic groups in the Philippines, who inhabit the mountains of Luzon. These highland peoples inhabit all the six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region: Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao, and Mountain Province, as well as the adjacent province of Nueva Viscaya. The Ifugaos build their typical houses called fales, which consists of a kitchen, bedroom and a worship room altogether. It is a triangular house elevated with 4 wooden posts. There is a ladder but it is hanged or removed so people or animals cannot enter the fale. Aside from their rice terraces, the Ifugaos, who speak four distinct dialects, are known for their rich oral literary traditions of hudhud and the alim. The Ifugaos’ highest prestige feasts are the hagabi, for the elite; and the uyauy, a feast for those immediately below the wealthiest. You will easily recognize them by their very colorful traditional dresses.