December 12, 2019
BY RICKY MONTECILLO
We fell in love with Salacsac Pine Forest when we first saw it a couple of years ago. In our first visit, we ventured to the place by hiking as we weren’t sure if we could ride our big bikes all the way up there.
Salacsac Pine Forest is in Sta. Rosa, Malico, Nueva Vizacaya. To reach there, one can take the normal safe route via Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, or the newly opened Vista Verde Trail via San Nicolas, Pangasinan. Normally the trip from Manila would take about 6-7 hours and depending on road conditions, it is faster via San Nicolas.
We rode and camped there early in 2018 amidst the virgin pine forest and gentle local people. We camped up the mountain surrounded by pine trees, with spectacular views of Nueva Vizcaya and Pangasinan. The weather is Sagada-like. We just fell in love with the place. It felt like it was made for us, The Long Riders.
While already passable, he Vista Verde is still under construction, and most of the roads are still unpaved and muddy especially when it rains. Adventure bikes and 4X4 pick-up trucks are best suited for the travel going up to Salacsac, Malico. It takes more than one hour from San Nicolas all the way up to Salacsac, Malico.
For adventure riders like us, it’s the kind of rough roads we love to ride.
We were so enamored with Salacsac that we held a Dental and Charity Mission there last September. Our group has two generous dentists, Doc Von Evangelio and Doc Glenn Latorre who selflessly treated the locals’ dental needs. They must have performed tooth extractions to more than 100 locals.
It was then, during our night of merry making at the Malico Inn, that we forged our bond with Malico’s chief tribal leader Alfredo Segundo. He is also the uncle of our friend, Malico’s barangay kapitan Lorenzo Segundo. Over food and drinks, it was agreed that the Kalanguya Tribe Chief’s family was going to adopt the group, to be one with the tribe and to be one with their family.
Last November 23-25, to celebrate the birthday of Tatay Alfredo Segundo, he invited us to a celebration and also to perform the Kalanguya ritual of our adoption. The Long Riders sponsored three live pigs as our token offering.
As adopted brothers and sisters of the tribe, we can now call the Salacsac Pine Forest as our Home. “Ang amin ay sa inyo na rin” declared Tatay Alfredo.
The local tribesmen cooked the pigs, roasted them “kawa-kawa” style. The entire community attended the celebrations and we were made to wear the traditional Kalanguya costume and join their tribal dance ritual.
It was then announced to the entire community, that the Segundo family of the Kalanguya tribe was adopting The Long Riders as one of their own.
There was a sense of connection. They all made us feel welcome and we were humbled by their hospitality.
The “Malico Dance Group” also performed for us, as did the local men and women folks, while the elders played their native gongs and drums.
Who would have thought that this would happen? We are just motorcycle riders out for fun and adventure and as fate would have it, we are now part of the tribe. Strangers before, but now brothers and sisters.
Kuya Bong De Leon said it well while we were strolling in the camp site, he said that “like the seeds of the pine trees around us, they were meant by God to grow there. Where the seeds are planted is where one grows and blossoms. It is meant to be.”
Our wandering has brought us all to Salacsac Pine Forest in Malico. Maybe we were meant to call this place home and its people our tribe.