Lubuagan, Kalinga’s Most Historic Town

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Most stories about Kalinga revolve around the tribes, the tattooed women, about Wang-od, and inevitably about the rice terraces that compare well, and some claim better, than Banaue and Battad.

Not many visitors to Kalinga look at the town of Lubuagan, mostly bypassing this town en route to Tinglayan. Or onward to Bontoc. They do not know what they are missing.

Not many know that this 4th class municipality was once upon a time the capital of Kalinga. And, in fact, was the seat of the First Philippine Republic when then president General Emilio Aguinaldo based himself here for 73 days from March 6 to May 17, 1900, before his escape and eventual capture in Palanan, Isabela in 1901. He actually celebrated his 31st birthday in Lubuagan, his then seat of government. Consider, too, that Spanish rule was never established in Lubuagan in the 300 years that the Philippines was ruled by Spain. Very impressive history this town has.

Today, a monument of General Aguinaldo is found facing the municipal grounds. It is due for fixing up in preparation for the installation of the marker from the National Historical Institute, scheduled next year.

General Aguinaldo faces what is now the town’s plaza

On my visit to Lubuagan, I was regaled with stories from the town’s very young but also very knowledgeable, and charming tourism officer, Ms Ansharina Odiem. Most of the information I am sharing came from her.

Also referencing from wikipedia:

“The colonial Civil Government notably beginning with the administration of Lt. Governor Franklin Walter Hale (1907) up to the Commonwealth government is considered the golden years of Lubuagan, the capital town of the sub-province of Kalinga.

Lubuagan at that time was the center of education, culture, commerce and trade. The founding of the Kalinga Academy in 1927, a secondary school run by American Missionaries and the St. Teresita’s School, founded even earlier in 1924, a Catholic Primary and High School managed by the CICM Belgian Missionaries bolstered the luster of Lubuagan.

The Japanese Imperial army occupation came to Lubuagan in May 1942.

In 1945 during the war of liberation, Lubuagan was bombed by American planes resulting in the destruction of the Lubuagan Central School which was then occupied by the enemy. The big and beautiful St. Peter’s church of Lubuagan which resembles the Saint Peter’s Basicila of Rome with its high dome, the father’s convent and two more buildings within the compound were all burned to the ground. Lubuagan was once the capital of Kalinga sub-province before Tabuk rose to its present status as the center of learning and government activities. It is also in Lubuagan where the first instruction of higher learning (College) in the old Mt. Province was established.”

old, but repainted

If one is not into history, Lubuagan would still be a good visit for tourists and photography enthusiasts. The town has extensive and scenic rice terraces (Pon-e Rice Terraces and Gapis Rice Terraces) cut into the mountains, rising 2,000 feet (610 m) from the Chico River bed.

The Linas Heritage Homes
Lubuagan is also famous for its heritage homes. No small wonder – –  it was once the province’s center of commerce and, therefore, a showcase of affluence in its time.

Laga Festival

Lubuagan is famous for the Mabilong Weaver’s Village where backstrap weaving is the method, as opposed to loom weaving. Thus, Lubuagan celebrates the excellence of their weaving industry every year, on March 6, coinciding with the day gen Emilio Aguinaldo came. “Laga” means weaving.

Mabilong Weaver’s Village, located along the road, is the center of the ethnic weaving industry in the province. It showcases colorful ethnic backstrap weaving. Here, one can see how the intricate ethnic designs are made and how the colors are mixed. Souvenirs can be bought from the weavers.

I bought a lady’s belt from a store in Pasil, sourced from the Mabilong weavers. The other items are also on display in this souvenir shop in neighboring Pasil.

I did not then realize that one can spend a day or two in this small town, so on my next visit, I have listed down the following, from wikipedia (Other Attractions)

  • Awichon Mesa, a plateau situated at Brgy. Upper Uma, 2 km from the town proper and between Pasil and Lubuagan, is an archaeological site where bones of a prehistoric elephant were found. It was also the landing site of American forces during World War II.
  • Cadamayan Falls, at Brgy. Western Uma, serves as the natural boundary of Pasil, Lubuagan and Tinglayan and can be viewed from the road.
  • Tiwod Spring, the “Fertility Twin Spring”, is believed to be a God-given gift for couples who have not yet had children. Couples who take a bath every morning here and drink its waters will soon bear children.
  • Unexplored Tongango Caves, located just above the poblacion, consists of several chambers connecting the mountains of Lubuagan, Sumadel and Tulgao.

Accommodations

Had I known there were places for me to stay, I would have stayed in Lubuagan. So for prospective visitors, here are the options:

Homestays: JBC Inn, Henrich Homestay – both located at Barangay Poblacion. MA-K Homestay located at the Mabilong Weavers Village. And at Awichon Cultural Village, one of the  attractions on the top list, visitors can sleep in the Kalinga authentic houses.

Average rates range from 200-300/head . Awichon Cultural Village is probably P500 per head. These can be verified with the town’s tourism office.

How to get there

Lubuagan is 50 kilometres fromTabuk, and 460 kilometers north of Manila.

 

 Contact the Lubuagan Tourism Office :

http://www.lubuagan.gov.ph

email: lubuagen@yahoo.com (this was not misspelled, the locals pronounce Lubuagan as Lubuagen, thus this email address)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 23, 1901.

Masbate Rodeo 2017

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My 5th consecutive rodeo since 2013.

This year, the provincial government decided to give away cattle to people who can catch them on the streets of Masbate, calling the event Huego de Toro, or Pasuwag. Locals enlisted to join and were thoroughly briefed as the game is quite dangerous – – especially for onlookers. Imagine cattle that have never left the ranch being brought to the city streets for the first time The rodeo director even described the cows as blind and wild. Photographers were asked to secure themselves on spots where the cattle can not jump to. Or else their expensive gears could be damaged. professional cowboys were also around to restrain the cattle to prevent them from hammering into the crowds watching the exciting event. Establishments closed their doors in the meantime. This is bringing the rodeo into the streets !

A makeshift pen was built at the end of the road from where the cattle were to be released. Another pen was built on the other end where the caught cattle will be brought by the teams. each team was limited to 3 cowboys. When they catch anything, they get to own the head of cattle. Either they bring these home for meat or sell to willing buyers.

The usual cattle events participated in by professional cowboys and cowboys/cowgirls forming school teams from all over the country were played at the arena.

Cowboys racing to catch their cattle for the carambola

 

Gotcha ! The team that holds a cows neck “owns” the cattle for the game.

 

Casting down 

 

When properly roped in, the cowboys (and cowgirls) maneuver to cast the cattle down.

 

Another team for casting down

 

In Bull riding, cowboys qualify if they hit 8 seconds. Most of the time they fall off in the first few seconds

 

And the cattle can’t go away !

 

Rodeo Masbateno continues to be the premier rodeo event in the country. In fact, VROoM (Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate) officiates other rodeo events outside of Masbate, by special arrangement.

The thrill is unparalleled. Plan your rodeo experience – – – April 2018. Watch this space.

(Photos taken by fellow FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group member Mark Arvin Esquivel Santiago)

Superman Cowboy at Masbate Rodeo 2017

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This is the fifth rodeo I attended in Masbate in the past 5 years. And carambola has been a favorite event.

To the uninitiated, carambola is a cattle event where 2 competing teams of cowboys chase 2 heads of cattle let loose in the rodeo arena. The team that first grabs the bull by the neck will have that cattle to wrestle with and bring down, and tie 3 of its legs  with a rope. The cattle must not be able to stand up within 10 seconds, or else the team is disqualified for that game. All teams race for time, and the winning team for the event, like for example in  the 4-man carambola, is that team that does this routine at the shortest possible time.

This particular 4-man carambola I witnessed this year will go down in history as the bravest attempt by a cowboy.

Ever heard of the idiom “take the bull by the horns” ?

Here is what an idioms book says :

take the bull by the horns:  to forcefully attack a difficult situation

Example: ” I took the bull by the horns and confronted him about his drinking.”

Etymology: based on the idea that holding a bull (male cow) by its horns is a brave and direct action.

Cowboy Ace Malate, a 19-year old Animal Science student did exactly that. I was then at the Photographers Gallery when I saw this cowboy take the bull by the horns and did not let go, even as the bull was mightily trying to throw him off. Cameras from the photographers clicked almost continuously realizing the danger that the cowboy put himself into just to help his team wrestle the horse down. My thought balloon was ” My God, I hope he is not thrown off – –  he will be badly injured if this happens. The horns can get into his tummy ”

Here is the sequence, in photos taken by the official team commissioned by RMI.

 

Taking the bull by the horns

 

Holding on, feet now off the ground

 

The bull is trying to ward off the cowboy, now horizontal

 

Superman !

 

When the group was able to finish its task, I turned around to the photographers and remarked that if anyone had a good photo of that, it could possibly be the winning photo in the Photo Competition participated in by 25 or so photographers.

I also hurriedly went up the stage and requested the barkers Long and Yen to ask the brave cowboy to present himself to the stage for a special cash prize. An instantaneous decision triggered by this awesome display of bravery.

Leo Gozum, Rodeo Director told me:

” Right after this particular game with the horns. Guenther (a German cowboy from Munich,  and  a volunteer rodeo official working as timer) reacted  and said that Filipino cowboys are like cats. They have 9 lives. No matter how they are thrown they still land standing up. If the Germans that he knows would do this – – –  for sure they will have broken bones and end up in a hospital.”

Meet the brave Superman Cowboy, Ace Malate.  He is from the team called Association of Rodeo Enthusiasts in ViSCA or AREV of Visayas State University in Baybay Leyte. This photo is taken from his Facebook page, and used with his permission.

After that feat, the barkers were teasing the next carambola players if anyone would be taking the bull by the horns, like Ace Malate did, for a spot cash prize. But we know this is something that has never happened in the history of Rodeo Masbateno. And probably never will again.

Superman !

 

Degustacion and Tertulia

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The heritage town of Taal, Batangas, celebrated Philippine Independence Day with a weekend Art, Food and Fashion Festival.

The old homes were decorated with Philippine flags and the atmosphere was festive.

Villa Tortuga

Villa Tortuga

 

An art exhibit was nearby, with artists from UST on a reunion.

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Meanwhile, preparations for a fashion show were were being done at Paradores, the town’s premier hotel. A degustacion at Casa Feliza appealed to me the most so I went, having booked well ahead as there were limited seats.

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Why was it a must-go?

The menu is a mouthwatering version of dishes served during the Malolos Convention, prepared by Chef Giney Villar.

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney

 

The event host was Elizabeth Angsioco, resplendent in a gown re-created from old gowns.

Beth with media person Howie Severino

Beth with media person Howie Severino

The town’s historian Dindo regaled the visitors with stories from the past, how Taal was also nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO Heritage list, about the festivals in Taal, all in his interesting Batangueno accent.

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To highlist history and the link to the Malolos Convention, a delegation from that Bulacan town was present, headed by their vice mayor.

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The guests included actors playing guardia civil, General Luna, and then president General Emilio Aguinaldo.

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Casa Feliza was home to Feliza Diokno, then the secretary of President Emilio Aguinaldo. Today, it is open as a taverna at the ground floor, and B&B at the second floor. For the degustacion, the table setting was nothing less than impressive.

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I was lost in the bliss of this culinary experience that I forgot to take photos of the dishes. So I instead took a photo of the dessert corner.

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Towards the end, a friend of the hosts recited a poem in Spanish. His original composition in English that he translated to Filipino and Spanish.

An event to look forward to in 2017.

Rodeo Festival 2016 Masbate, Philippines

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I have written about the Masbate Rodeo extensively for three years. For the 2016 rodeo, I will let photos tell the story. Like you were just there.

BARN DANCE: from the streets to the arena:

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MY FAVORITE CATTLE EVENTS

Bull Riding

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Carambola

 

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Wrestling from Horseback

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WATCH OUT FOR  MASBATE RODEO 2017. APRIL 18- 22, 2017

 

LAKWATSA

The 2016 Festival Logo The 2016 Festival Logo

The most exciting National Rodeo Finals is ongoing at the Masbate Grand Arena, with Awards night on the 16th.

I have been attending the festival for three years in a row, and I have booked my flight and my hotel for this year, too. Some friends are saying they will be in Masbate for up to 3 weeks, finding the rodeo week a rather short period to truly enjoy Masbate. Yes, Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, and hosts the biggest rodeo event in the Philippines. maybe even the biggest in all of Asia.  And on top of the rodeo, visitors will find side-trips to be so rewarding, seeing waterfalls, white sand beaches, centuries-old lighthouses, and many more attractions.

First of all, the Rodeo.

Masbate has the only proper rodeo arena in the country. Whereas all the rodeos I have visited make do with…

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Vigan Rodeo at Kannawidan

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iPhone Shots 373

 

Vigan celebrated a week-long fiesta highlighted by an invitational rodeo February 5-6, 2016.

the audience gallery

the audience gallery

 

the improvised rodeo arena

the improvised rodeo arena

Since this is an amateur rodeo competition with students from agri, animal science, and vet med schools from around Vigan were invited to compete. The organizers invited the country’s premier rodeo organization, the Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate, known as VROoM, the technical group of the Rodeo Masbateno, Inc. For perspective, Masbate hosts the biggest rodeo event in the country, in the National Rodeo Finals held for one week in April every year. VROoM handled the Vigan rodeo as guest officers, practically running the event – – from briefing the participants on the rules, to managing the stockyard, to managing the scoring, to managing the sequence of events and competing teams, to performing functions as timers, and to actual officiating and judging on all the events.

Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate (VROoM)

Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate (VROoM)

The event started with a parade around the city, starting from the provincial capitol, and ending at the makeshift rodeo arena right beside the capitol. Opening ceremonies were held, with the singing of the national anthem, the oath of sportsmanship, the introduction of the participating schools, and the talk by the rodeo organizers. An intermission number ensued, courtesy of the office of the governor.

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cowboys and cowgirls dancing on the arena

Intermission: cowboys and cowgirls dancing on the arena

The Events

The rodeo events consisted of carambola (2-men, 2-women, 4-men, 4-women) wherein competing teams run to take possession of a cattle – – – the team to get a hold of a cattle’s neck “owns” it and so the other team will just have to chase the other cattle. They will then wrestle with the cattle and bring it to the ground and tie up the cattle’s feet. A good play is when the cattle is unable to get up from the ground in 10 seconds.

There is also casting down where players use a lasso to catch the cattle, and pulling the cattle until it falls, and finally tie down its feet.

There are also lassoing events where players need to be able to successfully lasso a cattle within a maximum of three throws.

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There were exhibition events of things normally done on the farm, like bull whipping, load carrying,  and log cutting. Plus fun games like egg carrying, and the Miss Rodeo competition where the team’s muses were scored on beauty and personality, talent, and intelligence.

Egg Throw/Catch

Egg Throw/Catch

The event ended with a big party on the second night, complete with catered dinner and entertainment. Overall champion was the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) Rodeo team, the same team that was champion last year.

Overall, the rodeo event was a success and, if Vigan continues to run the rodeo as professionally as Masbate’s VROoM officiated, they could well be on their way to becoming the Amateur Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, an expressed wish of the organizers.

VROoM Rodeo Director briefing the competing teams before an event

VROoM Rodeo Director briefing the competing teams before an event

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VROoM to the rescue when a cow jumped out of the arena and could cause great damage to people and property around the arena

VROoM to the rescue when a cow jumped out of the arena and could cause great damage to people and property around the arena

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Masbate: Big City

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I have always been wondering how others who have not been to Masbate think of this place. To confess, I also had images of my 1978 visit ( small, backward, very very provincial)  when I returned in 2013. Back in 1978 there was only one hotel, located near the pier, where hotel staff delivered to my room a pail of water when I took a bath.

MASBATE PROVINCE

Masbate Province has a booming population estimated at 950,000 in 2016. Made up of 20 municipalities and 1 city. Two big islands, Ticao and Burias form the province’s First District. Masbate City and the towns around it, including the province’s biggest town of Aroroy form District 2. The Third district includes the big towns of Placer and Cawayan, the two most populated towns after Masbate City, and Cataingan, the farthest town that is close enough to Iloilo.

Ticao Island Resort is within the First District

Ticao Island  is within the First District

 

Most of the hotels, B&Bs and resorts are in the Second District

Most of the hotels, B&Bs and resorts are in the Second District

 

the Third District hosts more beaches and island resorts

the Third District hosts more beaches and island resorts

Around 80% of land in the province is used for farms and ranches, making Masbate a cowboy country, and officially the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.

Get to visit a farm and watch how cattle is herded

Get to visit a farm and watch how cattle is herded

 

THE CITY OF MASBATE

Masbate today looks like any provincial city. No, not like the premier cities of Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo and Davao. It is the capital city of the province of Masbate, and the center of commerce. It is big and at the same time small. No traffic typical of the big cities. But has all the comforts – – it has malls and department stores, as well as the fast food joints that “define” how cities and towns have progressed. There are banks and other financial institutions that visitors will need to withdraw cash from ATM, or transfer/receive funds thru any of the “pera padala” centers.

Gaisano Mall

Gaisano Mall

Buy things for your gadgets in case you left them at home

Buy things for your gadgets in case you left them at home

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LCC, the largets chain of malls, supermarkets and express stores in the Bicol region is present in Masbate

LCC, the largets chain of malls, supermarkets and express stores in the Bicol region is present in Masbate

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as the provincial capital, Masbate City is where the universities and colleges in Masbate are found

as the provincial capital, Masbate City is where the universities and colleges in Masbate are found

The Grand Rodeo Arena is within the city

The Grand Rodeo Arena is within the city

 

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

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FASTFOODS AND LOCAL RESTOS

Sutukil is the best local restaurant, good food, very low prices

Sutukil is the best local restaurant, good food, very low prices

 

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WHAT TO VISIT WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS

Masbate is not just the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines. Within the city are tourist attractions, resorts, and resort hotels. Transport within the city is via tricycles and fare is only P8 per person.

Buntod Reef is a few minutes boat ride. White sands.

Buntod Reef is a few minutes boat ride. White sands.

 

Visit the Santo Entierro at the heritage house called Villa Bayot

Visit the Santo Entierro at the heritage house called Villa Bayot

 

a mangrove park at the Boulevard, near the hotels

a mangrove park at the Boulevard, near the hotels

 

the famous cowboy monument - - - this is rodeo country

the famous cowboy monument – – – this is rodeo country

 

the cathedral, at the city center

the cathedral, at the city center

 

Tricyles are easy to find, or are on queue in malls, fastfoods, and in many parts of the main street

Tricyles are easy to find, or are on queue in malls, fastfoods, and in many parts of the main street

 

The people are nice, and I have returned many times because of the many friends I have made. They have accompanied me to the different spots around Masbate and have had drinks with them in bars or in a “tambayan” at a friend’s carport.

One of the many bars and restaurants dotting the BOULEVARD area. This one is called "Kuya Nathan".

One of the many bars and restaurants dotting the BOULEVARD area. This one is called “Kuya Nathan”.

Another friend says he returns to Masbate every year not just for the rodeo, but to be with friends we have made. I personally truly believe that visitors go to a place to see interesting sights for the first time, and return to be with friends they made. Masbatenos are truly a wonderful breed of people, contrary to the image created in people’s minds resulting from the past. This is a New Masbate. Come visit.

Buy interesting pasalubong at Fazenda, found on the cathedral grounds

Buy interesting pasalubong at Fazenda, found on the cathedral grounds

 

WHERE CAN I STAY?

I recently wrote about accommodations options, to guide anyone wishing to see this beautiful island province.

https://boyplakwatsa.com/2016/03/09/20-masbate-hotels-and-other-accommodations-options/

 

HOW TO GET TO MASBATE

Philippine Airlines flies daily to Masbate, leaving Terminal 3 at 5:05 am. Visitors will have one full day when they get to the city.

You can also travel by land. Buses leave Cubao and are loaded onto roll-on-roll-off boats between Pilar in Sorsogon and Masbate City such that visitors can travel direct from Quezon City to Masbate City. Travel time is from 16 to 18 hours. Visitors can also bring their cars and take the roro so they can travel around Masbate in their own cars.

Masbate is interesting year round. A bonus when you visit mid April is the Rodeo National Finals

Masbate is interesting year round. A bonus when you visit mid April is the Rodeo National Finals