One of the benefits of joining a photography club is the numerous invitations that you’ll receive to visit different places. Last December 2012, I was invited to spend a weekend like no other at Barangay Malico, Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. It was a 3 days, 2 nights vacation to a fabulous place that resembles La Trinidad, Benguet in terms of climate. It also resembles Baguio before it became crowded with buildings and people.
I left Manila via Victoria Liner en route to Tugeugarao, Cagayan. I dropped off at Sta. Fe town proper and it took me around 6 hours to reach this part of Nueva Vizcaya. From the town proper, it took me another 30 minutes (via motorbike) to reach Barangay Malico. It was the most exhilarating ride I’ve ever experienced since we’re trekking the mountainside. My heart is pounding with every turn on our way up the mountain.
The place, where my photographer friend’s rest house is located, is being transformed to a vegetable field similar to La Trinidad, Benguet. Several rest houses where set-up near their rest house. Upon reaching this part of Barangay Malico, I immediately felt the cold climate which is at par with Baguio City. Another thing that I liked about the place is the absence of several houses. Barangay Malico is definitely a nature lover’s haven.
I also saw one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. We saw the province of Pangasinan from the top of the mountain. There are so many pine trees in the vicinity as well. It’s also good nice to see the fog coming down from the heavens. It’s definitely a wonderful sight.
The next day, we hiked to an area full of pine trees with magnificent view of the mountainside. This is probably how Baguio City looked like in the 1900s before the Americans discovered it. There was even a tank on top of the mountain which was there since World War II. We also reached the boundary of Nueva Vizcaya and Pangasinan.
After the morning hike, we attended the major event of the community. It’s a Christmas Party combined with Barrio Fiesta. There were cultural dances from the local grade school and high school students. Kids and adults also enjoyed the parlor games including the classic Trip to Jerusalem among others. After the games and dances, the locals shared the simplest meal I’ve ever seen – boiled native pig (without spices or salt). In spite the simplicity of their food, you’ll see how grateful they are for the meal of the day. The kids are also delighted by the toys that were given to them.
In the afternoon of Day 2, we visited the Imugan Falls. It was the first falls that I saw and I took the opportunity to take a bath in it. The water is very cold and the feeling of taking a bath in it is one of the best things that I’ve ever experienced. The hike towards Imugan Falls is also quite an adventure. There were plenty of ferns and flora along the way.
The 3rd day, Sunday, is spend preparing to go back to Manila. We visited a local shrine to fallen soldiers of World War II. It’s quite intriguing to think that Barangay Malico in Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya was a venue of fighting between the retreating Japanese forces (on their way to Baguio City) and the Filipino-American army. The Shrine also gives a great view of the rest house and the greenhouses. It was a beautiful place.
After lunch, we departed Barangay Malico and I promised to return this year on their annual Christmas Party. I sure hope you can also visit the place.
By the way, the people of Barangay Malico belong to the Kalahan-Kalanguya tribe. Kalahan is the local word for “forest” while Kalanguya is the language.