BY RICKY MONTECILLO
FEB 23-25, 2019
The majestic Mt. Kilang is one of Apayao’s prized attraction. It stands proud at 1,600 meter altitude and is magnificent.
The local environment lady guardian named Gladys told us of Mt. Kilang’s legend. Kilang is the name of the girl who was heart broken as she searched for her would-be husband named Kilong in the mountain.
Kilong earlier asked for her hand in marriage from her parents. They gave their blessings to the proposal provided that Kilong fulfills the traditional offering of three pigs to the family. For the Isnag tribe, the giving of pigs serves as a sign of sincerity and respect.
Unfortunately for Kilong he was only able to give 2 pigs. Determined to wed the love of his life, Kilang, he searched for the required one more pig up in the mountains.
When the days and months passed and Kilong did not return, Kilang decided to follow and searched for him. She never gave up even amidst the cold weather, rains, and storms.
The locals say that her tears cultivated and carved the rocks of the mountains, causing them to be polished into limestones.
While looking for him, Kilang also planted beautiful colored flowers everywhere, which is why the flora and fauna abound in the mountain. Because of Kilang’s love and determination to find her beloved, the mountain is now called Mt. Kilang in honor of her heroic but tragic search for her one true love.
Love is universal and timeless indeed.
Our camp and ride adventure last Feb 23-25, 2019, weekend was actually not about Mt. Kilang. We just found her quite by accident.
We reached our camp site at Kilang Pass by the roadside rest area in the newly paved Solsona-Calanasan national road at around 4pm, after about a 2 hour motorcycle ride from Solsona. It is the highest point of the road.
There are no cell phone signals at the campsite. However, Gladys pointed us to the spot on the hill where they call and text, “Doon sir sa may upuan, may signal.”
Rodel, Resty and I went up the trail going up to the spot to use our cell phones about 50 meters going up. Later Gerry followed. There was even a picnic folding chair in the spot where the signal was strong. The trail is made out of lime stones formed as a pathway.
The trail continued upwards to the mountain. Restie being Restie ventured further up to where the trail led.
Soon while I was talking to my wife Tina on the phone, Restie and Rodel were gone. They went up further following the path. Soon Gerry arrived and we decided to follow them up the mountain.
The pathway was lined with trees, thick moss and rich vegetation. We saw them after sometime and we ventured forward until we saw a small clearing. “That’s Mt. Kilang!” Resties exclaimed. I myself didn’t know what Mt. Kilang was. All I knew was we were going to Calanasan.
Our curiosity fueled us to go further up and find out where the trail led. We were thinking we could reach a good spot for a better view of the mountain. So after about 20 minutes, we were surprised to find out that we had actually reached, not just a better spot to view, but rather we were on Mt. Kilang itself. We reached the point a few hundred feet below its summit and it was more than we expected!
We were incredulous as we sat down there on the sharp limestones, enjoying Mt. Kilang’s magnificence. It is awesome and so beautiful. Being there unexpectedly, was such a thrill. We could not help but appreciate such a wonderous creation of God.
The plan was to ride to Calanasan in Apayao and the 3-day holiday was the opportunity to finally go there. You see, Calanasan is a prized motocycle destination because of its location way up in the mountains between Ilocos and Apayao. In the past, there were acutally only rough dirt roads and only few brave adenturers ever went there.
Recently however, the Solsona-Calanasan National Road is now 90 percent paved, making it friendlier even for big heavy bikes like ours. And so, The Long Riders began its journey.
We were Restie, Paul (until Rosario La Union), Bong de Leon on his new Ford Raptor and riding with him were Roland and Glenn P. The other riders were the couples Edwin and Judge Cariss, Limuel and Cathy. Then kumpadres Wern and Rodel and also mutual idols Sael and Doc. Glen. Gerry and Capt. Tin rode with their fast and nimble Husqvarna Stradas and me (Ricky) on my BMW GS12.
On our first night, we went to the home of Kuya Lito and his gracious wife Marlyn in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. They are good friends of Limuel and they go way back from the streets of Mandaluyong where they forged their friendship. They have been expecting us for lunch but our ride was delayed due to a tire change, and we reached their place by dinner time.
Limuel described the dirt farm road going to the house as a 5 kilometer challenge. And it was going to be tricky since it was already night time. From the highway, we turned to the start of the dirt rode, nervous and alert. As it turned out, Kuya Lito’s house was actually only about 100 meters away from the road and Limuel was only making fun of us. Their houses are in the middle of tobacco plants and other vegetales.
They were such nice and hospitable folks and they welcomed us like family. Any friend of Limuel is also their friend. We parked our big bikes there and prepared our stuff to camp at the nearby Cabangtala Beach. Limuel said it was just 200 meters away. But then again it was actually about 10 kilometers away! That’s the last time we will ask him for directions.
We set-up camp by the beach, the fresh wind was breezing and the sounds of the waves soothing. Our first night at the beach we ate, drank and passed out.
The next day, before we even reached Kilang Pass, we went to Karingking River Resort in Solsona where we swam to cool ourselves. Karingking is a river dam turned into a swim resort and many locals go there to picnic. It is very nice and clean and it was a welcome stopover before proceeding to Kilang Pass.
From the Karingking River Resort, we started our ride up into the Solsona-Calanasan National road. It is new and had lots of twisties.
But there are some debris like rocks and dirt which made it tricky. It is only about 30 kilometers going up to the camp site and we had to negotiate some loose gravel roads before finally reaching Kilang Pass.
We set-up camp and pitched our tents. The night was cold and chilly, maybe about 10 degrees centigrade. Sael, our master chef, cooked broiled pork soup for us and some fresh local vegetables.
The camp site is the highest point of the road and it was the best spot with the best views. At night the stars shone very bright and when the moon appeared. It was brilliant.
We gathered around the campsite for dinner and lots of booze. We drank and had loads of laughter and we were boisterous, like newly released prisoners.
Seeing grown men clowning around and outdoing one another in dancing, singing, shouting and horseplaying like teenageers, one would never know that this group of zany riders are made of stern stuff. Having fun with The Long Riders, one can never guess that Restie is an architect, Glenn P. and Roland are businessmen, and Bong is a contractor.
Who would have known that the loving couple Cariss is a Judge and Edwin a Kapitan ng barko? That Limuel is connected with the country’s transportation agency?
For all their senseless banter, you wouldn’t guess that Sael runs a metal fabrication shop or that Glen is a very good dentist. Who would also think the Wern sells nails and his kumpadre Rodel trades wood, nails, cement? Or that Gerry is a lawyer and that Tin flies a triple 7 airliner.
As for me? I get to tell our story and I am very honored to belong to a group of professionals and self-made men and women who are successful in their own fields but would be the last ones to proclaim their titles and feats.
In the olden times, the Isnag tribe would bring gifts, like food and produce, to the gods of Mt. Kilang as offering for their dearly departed. That’s why the welcome sign of Mt. Kilang Pass says “Blazing Mountain of the Gods”.
Mt. Kilang in Calansan, Apayao is a treasure destination and the journey of blasting through the roads of La Union, Ilocos and Apayao on our big bikes, of meeting simple local folks on the way made the camp and ride another one for the books.