Thursday, May 28, 2015

Learn Common Taloctoc Sentences

If you’re traveling to the boondocks of Taloctoc, Kalinga, you will certainly need to know some of the common sentences, so you can at least communicate using the dialect. 

What’s your name? – Umma ngadan no?  (Letter “d” is pronounced like a cross between the “t” and “d” sounds)

Where are you going? - Umma ayam?

What’s your viand? – Umma sida yo?

Let’s go to the river.  – Intako adte dawang.

Where are you? – Umma igom?

Let’s eat – Mangantako.

Let’s go – Intakkon.

I’m fine – Ambaloak. (Letter ‘l” is pronounced as  a rolled “y” )

I love you – Laydok sika.

I don’t know – Ikpon agammo.

Yes – On

No – Na-i

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kalinga Native Fish Dishes

Kalinga native dishes are simple dishes meant to bring out the natural flavor of the food. One of the most delicious foods I have ever tasted in Taloctoc is the fish dish.

Image credit:

This is usually cooked during swimming picnics along riverbanks.

The fish is caught using our bare hands, and yes you can catch them this way. It’s a skill I came to learn and it was fun.


1. Wash the fish thoroughly

2. Add salt to taste and mix. Some preferred not to add salt.

3. Wrap them in banana leaves.

4. Place them in bamboo containers. These are small bamboo trunks/tubes that are freshly cut to expose the hollow cavity inside. The bamboo is cut in such a way that the “node” covers the other end of the bamboo.

5. Place the wrapped fish in banana leaves inside the bamboo container

6. Cook in low fire.

7. Serve hot.

This type of cooking brings out the natural taste of the fish, and I tell you, I have never tasted such delicious flavor in my life.

You have to experience it to believe.

Go ahead, and try it at home. But you have to buy fresh fish (still alive), and some banana leaves and charcoal.

Good luck with your Kalinga dish.

Here's an additional pointer from an Aunt who had lived in Taloctoc but now resides in America.

Fe Potter  says:

"The bamboo tube should also be a fresh cut so it will not burn right out over the charcoal. This method of cooking is excellent in any kind of fish dish."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I’m an i-Kalinga (Igorot) and I’m Proud of It

Just because you’re one of the cultural minorities (an Igorot) does not mean that you’re a second class citizen. It’s this perception that causes some Igorots to deny their ethnicity.

It’s a misconception that only uneducated and misinformed individuals have.

For those who don't know it; Igorots come from the Mountain Province, which is composed of 5 major provinces namely; Kalinga, Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc and Ifugao.

If you’re well-informed, learned and have traveled a lot, you’ll be aware that Igorots are one of the most honest, sincere and intelligent Filipinos.

I have lived in Taloctoc, Kalinga during my childhood and I have never seen such honest people; you can leave your house unlocked and nothing will ever be stolen.

You can trust them because they honor their words and consider them unbreakable. There’s no need for legal pieces of paper, because their words are good enough to serve as binding contracts.

During college, and even now, there are still ignorant and misinformed people who look down upon Igorots. But, I just think that they’re ignoramuses and are insecure individuals.

Whenever someone asked where I came from, I readily stated that I was an Igorot, an i-Kalinga, to be more specific. Sometimes, some were surprised, because perhaps, they didn’t expect that I could be standing - dignified - among them, and, in addition, I was proud of my origins.

I can go on to list factual names of Igorots who have made it successfully in the local and international arena in various fields, but this page would not be enough.

Do I have a tail? I don’t. I’m as normal as you are.

To all Igorots out there, be proud of your heritage because you come from a noble tribe that is composed of honest, intelligent, sincere and hardworking people.

Umali kayo losan atna Kalinga! Matago-tago tako losan.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Memoir: My Funniest Gardening Experience in Taloctoc, Kalinga

I grew up amidst the splendor of Mother Nature in the hinterlands of Taloctoc. I’m sure many of you don’t know where Taloctoc is.

Taloctoc is a small ethnic village located in the heart of Kalinga, north of Manila. Previously it was inaccessible to vehicles, but at present, a narrow, rugged road was constructed that made traveling easier.

This story happened several years ago when I was in grade school. The significant lessons learned though are timeless, and these are what I want to share with you.

In the village, gardening was a way of life. It was unusual for a villager not to have a garden somewhere, because a garden was a crucial part of the village’s subsistence.

Our garden was a few steps away from the teacher’s quarters where we were staying temporarily, as we had just come from town.

My mother, Asuncion, was a grade school teacher, and as expected, she had to be a role model for the folk in every aspect - including gardening.

“Do you think you could help me with this?” Mother asked me, one sunny Saturday when she brought me to an area below our house.

I looked around and noticed verdant, robust weeds growing abundantly in the area.

“What would we do here, Ma?” I asked curious.

“We’ll make a camote (sweet potato) garden,” she piped enthusiastically.

I was not enthusiastic about it because I hated gardening, but I followed her instructions, anyhow, weeding and digging the area to make the soil soft and ready to form into plots.

We made small garden plots, creating small canals for water drainage. The soil was rich and soft and we had no difficulty planting the ‘camote’ tubes. I was instructed to plant them about 3 inches away from each other.

“The roots would grow more rapidly, and there would be more tubes,” mother said.

Afterwards, I was tasked to accompany mother in tending to the garden. Every morning I went with her down that small patch of land.

I began to appreciate my quiet moments with mother. It was also fun weeding and adding more soil, so that the tubers would grow bigger and more delicious.

Within more than a month’s time we began reaping the fruit of our labor from our small ‘camote’ garden.

One time there was a contest in school to bring a simple food that was nutritious, and that had many health benefits. I had thought instantly about my ‘camote’ garden.

Excitedly, I harvested the shoots and the tubers and cooked the shoots with anchovy and tomatoes, then I prepared vegetable salad from the shoots too. I had cooked also the tuberous roots into barbecues and prepared sweet jam.

Yes, I won the contest, because the shoots were rich sources of vitamins, minerals and iron. The roots were sources of carbohydrates and fibers too. They ate voraciously the delectable food I prepared for them.

There was an underside though; some people gave off unwanted gas that made people scamper away. This turned the event to a comedy scene.

This is not the significant story though; the most important thing that I have learned while tending the garden with my mother were the precious lessons in life that she had taught me.

I could still remember mother patiently digging small canals so that water would not accumulate on the plant’s roots.

“What would happen if the water would amass?” she asked me.

“Well, the plant would die?” I replied, unsure.

“Of course dear, so remember any good thing could become bad if it’s in excess.”

“Even love?”

“Even love. Genuine love is tough love. We love you, but we reprimand you when you get out of hand.” She said sotto voce.

“If we don’t nurture and tend to our plants, do you think it would still live?” Mother queried again.

“Some of it would die,” I stated, sure of my answer.

“Smart child and the few that manage to live could be unhealthy and lost.”

“Love is like a plant that should be properly watered and exposed to sunlight to survive. Having too much of either would be damaging to the plant. So, when it’s time for you to love, think about love as a plant that needs nurturing and proper care.”

These are only a few among the many lessons that I have learned from her.

Now, that I am a professional, I would always remember the lessons gleaned from these gardening moments with my mother. I hope you have learned something as well.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Nipa Huts, Refreshing Abodes

Nipa huts are superb places to stay in especially during the summer season, when the weather is too humid. For the older people of Kalinga, the nipa hut is where home is. Made of bamboo slats and cogon, it's sturdy and comfortable to stay in. When you go to Kalinga, try staying in one of these nipa huts. Nipa Hut image courtesy of Roselle, thanks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Incredible video of the Mountain Provinces featuring a Picture from this Blog

Watch this incredible video of the Mountain Provinces posted by Wilson Anaban Sy on Facebook. One picture featured my brother which was featured in this blog. The lyrics of the song talks about the honesty, sincerity and hospitality of the mountain folks. I remember the houses in Taloctoc when I was a kid; they were never locked but nothing was ever lost. Agreements were all done orally - nothing on paper - but that agreement is followed perfectly. I hope this can be applicable in the urban areas, as well. Watch the video below:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Taloctoc Experience

I call Taloctoc a paradise because nature abounds and it has provided solace and comfort when I was a child. I will never forget the following:

·         The dawang (Chico river) where I and my playmates swam, dived, almost got killed in. I will always remember its shimmering crystal clear waters during summer where we catch fish using our bare hands. Its raging, murky water during the rainy season that has drowned a number of people, almost including me.

Image credit: Nats Dalanao

·         The Chico river’s bank where we picked juicy guavas and filled our stomachs with; Its clean, white sand where we sunbathed and frolicked; its shiny smooth stones where we slept after stuffing ourselves with all the guavas and sweet berries we were able to consume.

·         The majestic mountains we climbed every time we went back to high school. I remember looking down from the mountain top and imagining I was in heaven looking down on earth; smelling the fresh scent of  dew drops on the verdant grass, and watching the clouds drift by just  inches from my fingers.

·         The green rice fields I toiled in when I was not in school; the nifty air coming from new mown hay; the fresh veggies we cooked freshly plucked from the vegetable garden provided scrumptious viands for our hungry stomach after our arduous work.

·         The oil lamp flickering on our wooden table, casting shadows, as we narrated ghost stories that made every one scared but laughing.

·         The big bonfires in the elementary school plaza where festivities were held with taddoks and gangsas.

·         The kaingin season when every day was hard work. I was usually tasked to fetch water with a bamboo pole from the foot of the mountain, and waking up in the wee hours of dawn to pick freshly grown mushrooms from tree stumps.

Everything was fresh and invigorating. Did I really do all of these? I did, and I’m happy I was able to experience these things because they have given me the chance to appreciate nature now that I live in a metropolitan area.
Thank God, I’m an i-Kalinga!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Chico River, One of the Natural Treasures of Kalinga

The Chico River is one of the natural treasures of Kalinga. It is a winding river that snakes its way through several villages, such as Bangad, Lubo, Mangali, Taloctoc, Pasil, and Tabuk, to name a few.

Taloctoc is particularly mentioned because this beautiful village is the only village enclosed by the river’s loving but sometimes harsh “arms.” Taloctoc is surrounded by the river, except for a few kilometers that serve as the neck of the village. When you look at the village from the mountain top as you descend via the man-made trail, it looks like a head of a man, because the river surrounds the village.

It is a breath-taking site that most visitors admire. During summer, the Chico River serves as a picnic and bathing paradise for village folk. They would spend considerable time in the river, enjoying the crystal clear, calm waters bathing, swimming or fishing.

Image courtesy of Nats Dalanao of Lubo

Young people often spend the day diving, swimming and exploring the riverbank for wild guavas and berries, and then picnicking by the fine, gray sand. Stone climbing is also an alternative venture.

Some of the stones are so big - they look like rocks. The Chico River is a refuge and a haven for the village people during summer. You can pick the summer months to go there for a great vacation.

During the rainy season however, it turns into a ferocious and cruel adversary; claiming lives by its swirling waves and deadly current. The Chico River is feared, respected and loved. Just like Mother Nature, the river does not serve anyone. It is a neutral force that could be harnessed as an instrument of death or life.

Recently; however, the Chico River is popular internationally as a water rafting attraction. Many local and international tourists have enjoyed the exciting ride in the swirling waves of the Chico River. The people of Taloctoc have enjoyed this nature’s gift to them and had optimized its beauty and splendor. Having no paved roads going to Taloctoc, had allowed visitors to bask in the incredible verdant mountains and the sparkling splendor of the Chico River.

If you happen to visit Kalinga, which is North of Manila, do not forget to visit the Village of Taloctoc, Mangali and Lubo in Tanudan. The wonder of nature, with its variety of unique flora and fauna would amaze you no end.

The natural brooks and waterfalls can also be a source of a countless of interesting activities. An exploration of the Chico River before and after you visit Taloctoc would complete your travel experience.