BY RICKY MONTECILLO
November 1, 2018
Ambaguio, Nueva Vizcaya, October 27-28
The locals say that Ambaguio means “covered with moss”, which describes the mountainous and forested area of the place. The temperature is cool and at times chilly, much like the neighboring areas in Benguet, Ifugao and Cordilleras.
Ambaguio is a 5th class municipality and it was only recently that the government has been able to pave its roads from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Although not all roads are paved, which made our adventure ride interesting.
Ambaguio is an alternative jump-off point for hikers going to Mt. Pulag. It is longer and more forested, which many hikers like. Don-don (Nuepe Manuel Jr.) the tourism officer of the town, says that they want to develop Ambaguio into an eco-tourism destination. He accompanied us and took good care of us during our stay. Salamat Don-don!!!
Only about 240 kilometers from Manila, the travel to Ambaguio is quite friendly. Just go North thru the expressways and follow the route to Nueva Vizcaya. Waze will tell you that it takes only 8 hours to reach the place, but when you include stops for rest and food, it takes longer.
Once you reach Bayombong, you take a left to the Bayombong-Ambaguio Road, which takes you up to the mountainous road all the way to Ambaguio.
Eight members of The Long Riders motorcycle club joined. Seven riding elephant 1200 GS BMWs and another a big Yamaha 1200 Tenere. The riders are Restie Renia, TLR’s group pasimuno, Rodel Velasco who we kidded as a “guest rider” cause it’s been a while since he joined our rides, Wernher Asprec, Doc Glenn Latorre, Yan Yan King or Mike, Bong De Leon, Glenn Peñafiel, and me Ricky Montecillo.
Restie would always introduce me to the locals as, “Eto is Ricky, writer ng blog”. Kinda embarrassing.
We arrived in the poblacion in Ambaguio around 4 pm. Somehow we skipped lunch on the road, so we were tired and hungry. But the carinderia would have our dinner ready only by 6pm.
We were assigned to spend the night in the poblacion Senior Citizens Center. It’s the newest structure in the Poblacion and it had clean bathrooms. So we set-up our things inside the hall and got ready to ride down the Gulon River nearby.
Don-don and his friends, Ben and Tuesday said that it’s just a short easy ride down to the bridge. We found out that yes it was short and easy, if your were riding a small trail bike or an undertone. It turned out to be a mostly downhill rough road with ruts and loose soil and rocks.
The late afternoon weather was cool and the views marvelous. It includes lots of greenery, rice fields and vegetable plots. And as we approached the bridge, we parked our big bikes and walked down to the gushing Gulon river.
It’s clean and cool. But the strong current prevented us from taking a dip. So we just washed faces by the riverside. It was so soothing and refreshing.
It was getting dark so we headed back to the poblacion. The ride back was fun as it was mostly uphill. Somehow it’s easier to ride uphill on dirt roads. Just look where you’re going and twist the throttle. The big BMWs are simply made for any kind of road.
The only carinderia in the poblacion served us hot and fresh tinolang manok with fresh vegetables and soup. The best meal of the day, as we were quite hungry. After dinner, we set up our sleeping bags and showered.
The best part of any ride with The Long Riders is the drinking session, where nothing sensible it talked about and where you had to talk louder to be heard. The quiet and quaint Ambaguio was probably disturbed by our boisterousness and juvenile ruckus.
We were like high school boys sharing jokes and making fun. Riding is fun like this. We ride fast and furious, like fighter jet pilots. And when we get down to relax, we throw caution to the wind and let go, shot after shot after shot.
Even as the night was long, we all woke up early in the morning to catch the sun rise at the Gulon Hill. Bong woke up earliest at around 3am and Glenn P., told me that I was snoring like a big bike with an open pipe. Wern who was beside me also cruised at 6000 RPM the whole night.
It was still dark when we started our hike up to the Hill. We didn’t know where to go cause our guides Don-don, Ben and Tuesday overslept due to hangover.
Our angels must’ve guided us though cause we called out the house in the hill with lights on. “Taooo poooh” And Leo emerged from the house with a flashlight. It turns out that he owned and maintained the Gulon Hill site. How lucky can we get.
He said that at first he thought we were soldiers on foot patrol.
He guided us through the uphill trail and took only about 20 minutes. The Gulon Hill site has rock formations at the edge of the hill. From there you get to view the entire Ambaguio scenery. It was cool and foggy and the clouds were seated below us.
And as the sun rose, we were gifted with a sea of clouds and fog so magnificent it reminds me of the Mt. Pulag experience. I think we are the first big bike riders to have witnessed this. We hope that other riders will visit Ambaguio and enjoy it’s wonderful natural sites and the cool climate, and friendly folks.
After the hike we had breakfast at the carinderia and had cat naps to prepare for the long ride home. During this break we also went down to the sitios and the nearby church to distribute some giveaways to the local folks.
The locals were very appreciative of the gifts, toys, coffee sachets, canned good, pre-loved clothing and footwear. The Long Riders always bring giveaways wherever we go. Our small way of sharing and spreading joy to our less privileged kababayans.
We were all set to go and Restie led the way. While riding the dirt rough roads, I wondered to myself that I didn’t realize how rough the roads were. It was kinda technical and challenging. And then, as Restie led the downhill slope, he stopped.He looked around and it was all rice fields.
He asked around and then realized that we had made a wrong turn way back, that’s why the roads became rough and it was leading us nowhere. Well, our ride just became longer. That’s why we are the Long Riders.
I was back home in Las Piñas by midnight. The ride was fun and exciting and we once again discovered a place where other riders could go.
There is more to motorcycle riding in the Philippines than Kaybiang tunnel in Nasugbu or the local Startbucks. When you own an adventure bike, I strongly suggest to go where no else does and you will get to appreciate not only how much fun motorcycling is, you will bond more with new friends and experience first hand the way of life in the Philippine countryside.
So gear-up and go!