The people of Kalinga are famed to be headhunters in the olden times. Now, the place has been doing nothing but turning heads with its splendid unscathed natural beauty. Whether you are a nature lover, adrenaline junkie or a culture geek, Kalinga will definitely sweep you off your feet.
Kalinga is a landlocked province situated along the Cordilleras (the largest mountain range in the Philippines) in northern Luzon. On the north is the province of Apayao, Cagayan and Isabela on the east, Mountain Province on the south and Abra on the west.
Upper Kalinga- the highlands- is blessed with lush, virgin tropical rainforest. It has colder climates since it has a higher elevation. The temperature ranges from 17 – 25 degrees Celsius. It said to be home of one of the more intact Pine forests in the country. A number of beautiful rice terraces can also be seen here. And in these terraces, a very flavorful variety of rice is grown, the Red Unoy Rice. Or more commonly called Red Rice. It is now being exported to the United States and is being retailed at the upscale New York chain grocery Dean & DeLuca.
Lower Kalinga on the eastern section is mainly of gradually sloped rolling hills and flat lands. It is where the capital of Tabuk City is located.
Kalinga is situated in Northern Philippines, some 430 kilometers north of Manila. It can be reached by an eleven-hour-ride by bus or a plane ride from Manila to Tuguegarao, 45mins, then a one-hour ride by car. Tabuk city is a convenient jump off point to anywhere in Kalinga.
If you’re thinking of visiting this land of deeply rooted traditions and diversely rich cultures, check out our list of ten things to do in Kalinga.
Naneng Heritage Village
A small village just outside of Tabuk. Houses are made from hardwoods such as Narra, Dao and Yamban. The first houses were built as far back as 1920’s and they do stand the test of time. Naneng is a small simple and peaceful village surrounded by lush rice fields. It’s very ironic since “Naneng” in the local dialect means disaster.
Hanging Bridge in Bagumbayan
The bridge connects some barangays in the outskirts to the main road in Barangay Bantay. It is very scenic. The unobstructed view of the verdant green mountains of the Upper Kalinga is stunning while the clean and cool waters of Chico River flows down below is equally arresting. One can easily descend from the bridge to the rocks on the riverbed for a refreshing swim.
Mabilong Weaver’s Village
It is conveniently located on the main road in Lubuagan, a town 45 kilomters outside of Tabuk. The intricacy of patterns and eclectic ethnic designs are what set apart Mabilong to other weavers. The handmade goods ranges from simple purses to elegant garments all reasonably priced.
Dananao Rice Terraces
This man-made stairway to heaven is located in the town of Tinglayan, roughly 70kms away from Tabuk. The terraces are at its loveliest during planting or harvesting season. It is a surreal experience to behold of this scenery at daybreak over a cup of local brewed coffee.
There is something very charming about this quaint little town. Nothing bold that will distract you from enjoying the village of unpainted simple bungalows neatly tucked amidst flourishing groves of trees and greens. It is a place to relax and just be one with nature.
Photo Credits (Wikimedia Commons: Lubuagan by Gubernatoria
This is a noodle dish that is very popular in Cagayan, a nearby province. But, the ones in Tabuk particularly in a restaurant called Graceland are, just, very, tasty. It’s a noodle dish that’s very similar to Birthday noodles or Pancit Canton. Egg noodles sautéed in onions and garlic mixed with vegetables and almost covered in heaps of chicharon(deep fried pork) fried egg, chicken liver and more onions. It comes with a side of egg drop soup. It is equally tasty with the noodles.
Macau has Lord Stow’s egg tarts. Kalinga Philippines has this. It is that good. Almost similar with egg tarts, only bigger and has a bolder custard taste. The name of the store that bakes the best ones is Gramps.
This is located a few kilometers outside of Tabuk city center. It is the plains where the river of life- Chico River- flows. In the bunks of the river are rocks and stones. The river flows in the middle of a vast flat land filled with ferns and wild bushes and weeds. It is a very romantic place to spend late afternoons and sunsets.
The ever-graceful 90-plus-year old artist. She is dubbed as the last mambabatok/hand-tap tattoo artist. It is an ancient tradition, thousand-years-old, that is in its twilight of its death. Once, the celebrated practice of getting perpetually inked was a symbol held holy for warriors, both men and women.
Kalinga is blessed with majestically rugged terrains perfect for the outdoors. Whether it is white-water-rafting, hiking or, most specially, mountain biking this is the ultimate playground. From the easy trails for amateurs to hardcore trails for those two-wheeled virtuosos, you will find them here in this province.
Photo Credits (Wikimedia Commons: Mountain Bike by Sheffiel
Kalinga is a land of rich traditions, eclectic culture and unscathed natural wonders. It is no longer the headhunter as it was once known, it is now the head turner every tourist and travelers should look into.
Have you been to Kalinga? Feel free to share your tips and recommendations.