Ancestral Burial Grounds, Kabayan
In Timbac, Kabayan, Benguet, 130 kilometers away from Baguio are the fire mummies – also known as Ibaloi mummies – of Benguet, housed in ancient burial caves. This mummification of tribal ancestors is achieved through traditional salt and herb treatments, which purge the body of its fluids, and by yielding it to fire while being seated in a sangadil (death chair), and then drying out in the sun. Once completely dehydrated, the mummies are lodged in capsule-shaped wood coffins and tucked into the caves.
The mummy caves were proclaimed as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines in August 1, 1973, under Presidential Decree 260, and are also in the World Heritage tentative list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The most popular of the mummies is that of Apo Annu, heavily tattooed with symbols of hunters and warriors. Stolen in 1918, the mummy was recovered by a collector and donated to the National Museum in 1984. These days, the local government in Benguet has made sure to secure Apo Annu’s resting place to ensure thieves never bother the revered relic again.
Ambuklao Dam, Bokod
Bokod, Benguet is home to Ambuklao Dam, part of the hydroelectric facility that is one of the oldest power plants in the country. Offering breath-taking vistas of Ambuklao lake, Agno River, the dam’s spillway and nearby mountain ranges, it is a popular tourist spot. There are fishpens in the reservoir, whose operators manage their maintenance and preservation.
In the 1950s, the dam was considered Asia’s largest engineering project. It was built for purposes of flood control by absorbing peak flows, which were released over long periods for irrigation of agricultural fields and power generation. Only 36 kilometers away from Baguio, Ambuklao Dam was re-opened in October 2011 after being decommissioned in July 1990 due to a strong earthquake that greatly devastated Baguio and areas of Luzon.
Bakun Trio, Benguet
Set to be explored together over a three-day period are Mt. Kabunian, Mt. Tenglawan and Mt. Lobo, also known as the Bakun Trio. Climbing these three peaks, which starts from the town of Bakun, Benguet, poses a number of challenges for every mountain climber since the difficulty level is quite high. But the views along the way are worth it. Leeches can also be found in the area especially during certain months of the year, which makes the experience more “interesting”, if not memorable.
Mt. Tenglawan is considered the most difficult among the three; Mt. Kabunian has the so-called “Thriller Trail”; and Mt. Lobo is the highest of all three summits and offers a waterfall attraction for mountaineers to stop by.
Various itineraries can be arranged by climbing and tour groups, and one can choose to do these three mountains in separate day trips instead of the single trip. It takes between five and nine hours from La Trinidad via a 7 a.m. bus to
Mainit Hot Springs, Bontoc
A contrast to the chilly temperatures in the City of Pines is the Mainit Hot Springs in Bontoc, Benguet, at least six hours from the city. Despite the distance, the views along the highway are simply spectacular. It is highly recommended to travel during the day to enjoy these mountainscapes.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, the warm sulphuric water is believed to ease muscle pains and fatigue, a much welcome relief especially after a long day on the road.
Tublay Caves, Benguet
Enjoy spelunking when exploring the caves in Tublay, Benguet, about two hours away from Baguio. Ambongdolan cave features the most picturesque formations. Other adventures include are root and rock climbing, which involves ropes and squeezing through very small openings
in the caves.
Also visit the Bengaongao and Paterno caves, the latter named after Pedro Paterno, who participated in the Pact of Biak-na-Bato in 1897. He was said to have hidden out in the cave during the revolution in the 1890s.