BY RICKY MONTECILLO
July 25, 2016
Meet Ed. He is a native of Tabuk City, Kalinga and we met him in a not so pleasant way.
If you notice in the picture, he looks hungover, because he is. He had come from an all nighter in a funeral wake of a relative and he was on his way back home when he decided to knock, no bang, the door of the place where we were sleeping.
We, The Long Riders Motorcycle Club, were riding to Balbalan, Kalinga Province when we decided to make a stopover in DAO Panciteria, a small restaurant, in Dupag, Tabuk City. Since it was getting dark and rain poured hard, we decided to spend the night there.
When Ed saw our big bikes parked outside and in his drunkeness, he decided to assert his machismo. We were startled from our sleep as he shouted, “May nawawalang motor!” Imagine our shock after hearing that while he banged the door! Good thing the owner of the panciteria, Pepsi, confronted Ed and calmed him down. He said he was just playing cause had too much gin. Man! What a Jerk!
After some coffee and friendly conversation Ed calmed down and he mentioned that there was a hanging bridge nearby crossing the Chico River to the old Dupag community and he suggested that we go see it. He offered to guide us, maybe to make up for acting like a jerk earlier.
It turned out that Ed is ok and a nice fellow. He told me that he studied only until grade 1 and he grew up at the height of troubles between the government and the communist NPA.
Ed guided us to the old Dupag Hanging Bridge. It was built in the 70s he said and it has been maintained and repaired through the years. The bridge is the connection of the locals in the Dupag communities to Tabuk City where the young ones go to school and also to sell their produce like red rice and vegetables.
The bridge hangs over the Chico River. Ed says that its called Chico because of the brown color of the water similar to the chico fruit. I thought to myself that he too smelled like chico because of his drinking. Tourists go white water rafting in the Chico River.
I think it must be around 50 feet high from the river and about 100 meters long. Walking on the bridge is a little bit scary but the view of the raging river with the mountains and the blue sky as back drop is awesome!
It is a short 15 minute hike to the old Dupag Community and immediately you feel the warm welcome of the locals. Ed told me that nobody really goes there and the people feel thrilled to see visitors. They are so grateful that they immediately offered to prepare a “Baboy Ramo (wild pig)” feast. But we had other plans that day and told them that next time we visit we would love to taste their food.
We had time for coffee though and they also served us some freshly cooked and delicious rice cakes. The community is visibly poor but the folks are warm and friendly.
Belinda, the oldest matriarch there, said that in their place “there is no government”. Life in the mountains is hard. Ed said that maybe we can tell the others about them, about their plight.
The charm of their place is its rustic character, simple ways and friendly people. There is a certain enchanting allure with the old Dupag community. They live simply in the middle of the beauty of nature where they grow their red rice, Kalinga coffee and raise their baboy ramo, chickens, ducks and turkeys.
We vowed to return more prepared. We hope to do so and bring some relief goods and other stuff for them. Nobody goes there and they feel that they have no government. But their warmth and kindness is reason enough for us to plan another trip to taste the Baboy Ramo of the old Dupag community and share some of our blessings. We are the Long Riders and we are telling the Dupag Story.