Easier time to go up CAR

To be able to maximize tours around the Cordillera Autonomous Region, the Tourism Promotions Board has officially opened a new flight from Clark, Pampanga to Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya organized by Batanes Wakay Travel and Tours Incorporated.

In an interview, Wakay Tours manager Joel Kataluña said the decision to shorten an almost whole-day travel from Manila to Bagabag to a 30-minute trip from Clark is to be able to showcase the tourist destinations in Banaue, Sagada, Kalinga, and especially Kiangan.

“This flight gives vacationists the fastest way to visit CAR,” Kataluña said.

The 31-seater chartered plane run by Wakay costs P4,900 one way, with light snacks included.

From Manila, vacationists and foreigners can take the bus going to Clark Airport for one hour, then take a chartered plane that flies 30 minutes to Bagabag Airport. From there, people can then take a 90-minute bus ride to Banaue. 

“For an estimated three hours’ trip, you are already in Banaue,” Tourism attaché Susan del Mundo said.

Department of Tourism tour guide Maria Victoria Cometa said majority of guests have complained of the 10-to-14 hours it takes to travel from Manila to the Cordillera provinces at their attractions.

“Aside from the long travel, there is no decent pit stop or even restaurant along the way to bring the guests to dine in; and driving around the zigzag and rough roads is a bit exhausting,” she added.

In some cases, Cometa said, most of the travel agencies that organize tours for foreign and local tourists offers a chopper to bring them to the north.

“We’ve been receiving complaints from our guests about the long travel, so they always opted to avail the travel agency’s chopper service. And that’s more expensive than a commercial flight,” she said.

But the Cordillera is one of the most important regions in the Philippines owing to its rich Filipino culture and history, where some tribes are still practicing their traditions and rituals.

Kiangan in Ifugao province, for instance, has a very important role in the Philippine history, Cometa said.

Historically, Kiangan, Ifugao is the province where World War II officially ended when Filipino and American troops arrested Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita on September 2, 1945.

Then he was sent to Baguio, to sign an agreement officially ending World War 2. The general was later been executed in Laguna. Yamashita was the one who led the Japanese troops to invade the Philippines in 1941.

“If you want to know more of the Filipino culture and history, visit the Cordillera Autonomous Region, particularly Kiangan Ifugao,” she said.

Kiangan established Yamashita’s surrender site and museum for generations to see the bravery of the Ifugao fighters and American troops during the Japanese invasion.

Culturally, the Ifugao farmers and their rice terraces are the oldest such rice fields in the region, at an estimated 2,000 years old. The rice terraces carved into the mountains of Ifugao by the ancestors of the indigenous people has been ranked as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Cometa said the people in Nagacadan, Kiangan continue to practice the rituals and traditions before planting rice, and they plant grains with their bare hands.

“During the walk to Nagacadan, you will encounter several native houses and granaries where you can experience Ifugao agriculture with all your senses; you may listen to the hudhud chants sung by the Ifugao women while harvesting the rice; you will also witness different Ifugao rituals, closely correlated to the rice cycle,” she said.

Ifugao Mayor Joselito Guyguyon said the new air flight would help boost the tourism of the province’s other municipalities.

He said that they are continuing to improve their museums, weaving sites, and accommodations.

So far, there are more than 30 home stay accommodations or camping site hostel for tourists and backpackers.

This, he said, would allow tourists to know more of the Filipino history and culture and immerse further by witnessing the daily lives of the tribes there.

Tourists can also visit Bontoc for more cultural exploration like Museum; hike and experience Sunrise viewing in Mt. Kiltepan. In Sagada, they can see Western-inspired houses the Anglicans church, St. Mary the Virgin, and hike to the mountains to see the hanging coffins of the indigenous tribes toward the Gandutan museum.

Spelunking in Sagada’s famous Sumaging and Lumiang caves is a must too.

In Banaue, tourists can see another famous Rice Terraces; they can also visit the tribal villages, including Banaue Poblacion; Hiwang Village, Tam-an Village and Bocos Village.”

The CAR encompasses majority of the areas within the largest mountain range in the country, the Cordillera Central mountains of Luzon.

Located at the heart of Luzon, the region is composed of six provinces -- Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province – and the chartered city of Baguio.

Cometa urged Filipinos not to become a culturally malnourished and start knowing about their own culture and history.

“Nowadays, in my own observation, most Filipinos are concerned about taking photos or having great photos to brag on Facebook without understanding and learning deeply our culture,” Cometa said.

Topics: Cordillera Autonomous Region , Tourism Promotional Board , Clark , Pampanga to Bagabag , Nueva Vizcaya flight , Wakay Tours
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