Gaze at the Alluring Beauty of Benguet

Agno River Valley - Kabayan, Benguet, Philippines

The people of the province of Benguet have held their culture and traditions close to their hearts even with the passing of the ages, and by staying true to their beliefs they have kept their unique way of life alive.  Benguet remains a fascinating and exotic place that draws thousands of visitors year after year.

Benguet is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is La Trinidad and borders, clockwise from the south, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.

Baguio, a popular tourist destination in the country, is located in the interior of the province, however, the city is independent of the province.

Benguet is home to several native tribes that are collectively known as the Igorot. The three major tribes are the Ibaloi in the Southwest, the Kankana-ey in the northwest and Kalanguya in the east. Many of these tribes are believed by a Filipino anthropologist to be of Malay descent. Before the arrival of Spanish colonizers, these tribes had flourishing trade with the lowlanders such as the Ilocanos and the Pangasinenses.

Economy

Agriculture, mining, and tourism are the major industries in Benguet. Because of its temperate climate and high altitude, Benguet is an ideal place for producing vegetables. Benguet is often called the Salad Bowl of the Philippines. During February 2007, Benguet suffered crop damage due to freezing temperatures in the area, reaching as low as 5 Celsius and even lower in some areas, and important crops like cabbages were damaged. Major crops include potatoes, Baguio beans, peas, strawberries, cabbage, lettuce, and carrots. Other agricultural-related activities are monggo processing, fruit preservation, peanut brittle manufacturing, broom making, basket weaving, and flower growing. Apisang (scientific name: Pittosporum resiniferum), a plant endemic to the Philippines, is also being grown in Kapangan and Kibungan towns as a potential alternative source of fuel and energy, rivaling the overhyped jatropha biofuel plant.

Mining is another major industry of Benguet, which is one of the country's leading gold producers. The Benguet Corporation one of the Philippines largest diversified conglomerates was founded to exploit mines in Benguet Province. Other mineral deposits are silver, copper, pyrite, and limestone. Silversmithing is a large industry in Benguet, and many entrepreneurs sell silver works at lower prices in Baguio City, compared to Manila. In 2006 alone revenues from mining reached a stunning four billion pesos, and yet this figure comes from just two-Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation and Philex Mines- of the many mining firms operating in the province. Nevertheless, the province's mining vigor has never translated into better quality of life of the Benguet people, simply because a bulk of the mining firm's taxes are not paid directly to the province.

The two mining corporations, like many others around the country, have principal offices in the city of Makati, a set-up that makes Makati the prime mining tax beneficiary.
The presence of Baguio City in Benguet draws a large number of tourists from the lowlands. Often, people who go to Baguio also explore the province, especially the strawberry and vegetable plantations in La Trinidad.

Tourist Attractions

HISTORICAL

  • Batarangan Airstrip (Kibungan)

Used as landing site by the U.S. Airforce during World War II.

  • Camp Utopia (Kapangan)

This was the camp of the 66th Infantry Battalion during the 2nd World War. It was where the late Majors Bado Dangwa and Dennis Molintas led the defense of the Igorotlandia.

  • Darew Ancient Ruins of Civilization (Kapangan)

The ruins are the earliest known settlements.

  • Kaliwaga Cave (Kapangan)

Burial place of the British soldiers of fortune who came to Benguet in the 15th century.

  • Guerilla Saddle (Km 26 Halsema Highway)

Battleground of the famous Infantry Battalion and guerillas who fought the Japanese Imperial Army. Seesaw battles ensued until finally, the Igorot defenders won.

  • Hill WW II (Mankayan)

Site where the 66th Infantry Battalion and guerillas fought their way to Besang Pass. The capture of Hill WW II opened the right flank guard of the Japanese Imperial Garrison to bombardment and constant attack by Igorot freedom fighters.

  • Lamtang

Escape route of then President Sergio Osmena and party who was escorted by a detachment of the 66th Infantry Battalion to Camp Valhalla, Kapangan to San Gabriel, La Union during WW II.


NATURAL

  • Mount Kabunian (Bakun)

Believed to be the dwelling place of the gods, this rocky mountain stretches for kilometers, displaying its multifaceted profile.

  • Timbac Caves (Kabayan)

Another mummy abode which can be reached by hiking from a jump-off point along kilometer 52 of the Halsema Highway.

  • Opdas Cave (Kabayan)

Located about 300 meters from the municipal building is a spot that cannot be missed. Considered as one of the biggest burial caves in the municipality, it has 200 skulls and bones neatly piled on ledges reminiscent of the catacombs of Rome.

  • Apo Anno Cave (Natubleng Buguias)

The famed 12th-century mighty hunter of Benguet orally told and foretold as a demigod in Benguet tales whose remains have been mummified has been peacefully laid to rest in his original burial site. Benguet leaders have persistently searched for his remains for over 80 years. Upon his recovery, Apo Anno was given a hero's welcome.

  • Tinongchol Burial Rock (Kabayan)

This burial rock almost as big as a regular three-storey building houses centuries-old mummies. This came about through the labor of people during the olden times that bore hold on the solid boulders where they interred their dead.

This is the highest mountain peak in Luzon towering at an altitude of 9,640 feet above sea level and considered as the playground of the gods by local folk. It is home to many species of highland flora and fauna, including the dwarf bamboo, which covers its bald peak.

  • Mount Santo Tomas (Tuba)

An eighteen kilometer rugged road leads to the peak which offers a view of the most significant sunrises and sunsets, a clear view of the Lingayen gulf. It is ideal for picnics and out-of-town excursions.

  • Colorado Falls (Tuba)

Located a short distance off Kennon Road, these falls have been the favorite watering hole of Baguio residents for some time. Three giant falls drop into a natural pool almost ten feet at its deepest. Vacationists troop to this place during weekends.

  • Mountain Lakes (Kabayan)

Lakes Incolos, Bulalacao and Letep-ngepos can be found at the base of Mt. Pulag. With their crystal clear water, these can be reached by hiking through the scenic Oak Forest that grew densely around the base of the mountain. Bulalakao Lake has been awarded as a three-time consecutive winner as the cleanest Lake for the Cordillera under the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran.

  • Ambongdolan Caves (Tublay)

A cluster of caves and cavelets (Bengao-ngao, Ketong, Bongis, and Tey-tey) found in Ambongdolan which is an ideal spot for spelunkers and nature trippers.

  • Badekbek Sulfur Springs (Bokod)

A natural spring with boiling mud pools emitting smoke located in Daclan. People find this attraction a continuing source of wonder and amazement.

  • Tukang Cave (Tuba)

It is a multi-chambered cave along the Bued River and the historic Kennon Road at Twin Peaks. It is a spelunker's delight.

Other Sights:

  • Inodey Water Falls (Mankayan)
  • Dalupirip Hot Spring (Itogon)
  • Towing Water Falls (Sablan)
  • Cabacab Plateau (Mankayan)
  • Bridal Veil Falls (Tuba) Loo Valley (Buguias)

MAN-MADE

  • Marker of the Highest Mountain Highway System in the country at 7,400 feet above sea level (Atok)
  • Benguet Provincial Capitol (La Trinidad)

A three-storey edifice situated at Capitol Hill, La Trinidad. It encompasses an entire view of La Trinidad Valley. It houses provincial and some national offices and is a symbol of the progressive stance of Benguet province.

  • Benguet State University (La Trinidad)

The alma mater of most of the leaders in the mountain region which occupies a good portion of the La Trinidad valley. Only 6 kilometers away from Baguio City, its various projects on floriculture, penology, animal husbandry, poultry raising and vegetable growing are worth visiting. Home-made strawberry and blueberry preserves and freshly baked bread are available at its cooperative.

More popularly known as Zig-zag Road, it is a breathtaking and impressive stretch of cemented and asphalted winding road. The upward climb reveals picturesque heights and lush greenery, which is best appreciated when viewed at the Kennon viewpoint past the famous Lion's Head.

  • Ambuklao and Binga Dams (Bokod and Itogon)

Built in the 1950s, these dams are the source of power of major areas in Luzon.

  • Madaymen (Kibungan)

A vegetable growing area which is known as the "Switzerland of Benguet." There is frosting during the cold months and children leave water and sugar out overnight to make icicles.

  • Asin-an Sulfur Springs (Buguias)

Beautiful terraced mountainsides planted with cabbage, Baguio beans, carrots, and other vegetables draw praises from motorists passing the Halsema Mountain Highway because of their neat rows and upright trellises.

  • Mining Districts: Lepanto Consolidated

Philex Mines. These mining sites are complete communities in themselves with all the necessary services inherent in a community.

Other Sights:

  • Naguey Rice Terraces (Atok)
  • Haights place (Atok)
  • Palina Rice Terraces (Kibungan)
  • Marcos Bust (Tuba)
  • Kabayan Rice Terraces (Kabayan)

SPECIAL INTEREST:

Mountain climbing expeditions organized by the Municipality of Kabayan supported by the Province of Benguet and its Provincial Tourism Council are being done during the months of December and April.

  • Strawberry Picking (La Trinidad)

An activity which aims to focus on the rich products of Benguet. Strawberry is a fruit so much associated with Baguio City and Benguet.

  • Balatoc Mines Tour

This is the first-ever in the Philippines underground mining tourist attraction primarily to showcase the thrilling and educational world of the mining heritage of Itogon, Benguet. With its facilities and tunnels fully maintained and refurbished, the Benguet Gold Operations has opened its underground to tourists.

While Baguio City is not officially part of Benguet, it is a Chartered City. Its location provides additional income in the form of tourism in the province. Some of the interesting places are, Kennon Road, Binga Hydroelectric Plant, strawberry and flower farms in La Trinidad, the Ambuklao Dam in Bokod, and the Palina and Naguey rice terraces in Atok. Aside from these, Tuba and Tublay hot springs are usually flocked by local tourists from the neighboring provinces. A good view of vegetable terraces can be observed when traveling the Halsema highway, especially during the growing stages of vegetables. Remote Buguias hot springs can also be reached now, and the "Man-asok" river can be appreciated early in the morning because of the "smoking like" but in reality it's the vapor that rises up.

Accommodations

Here is a list of some hotels that can be found in Baguio City.  The city is located in the province of Benguet.

  • Golden Pine Hotel  - Carino corner Yandoc Streets, Baguio City Proper, Baguio
  • Banaue Hotel  - Banaue, Ifugao, Banaue, Baguio
  • Casa Vallejo Hotel  - Upper Session Road, Baguio City Proper, Baguio
  • Microtel Hotels & Resorts Baguio  - Upper Session Road, Baguio City Proper, Baguio
  • Citylight Hotel  - 245 Upper General Luna Road, Baguio City Proper, Baguio
  • Prince Plaza Hotel  - 17 Legarda Road, Baguio City Proper, Baguio
  • Baguio Country Club  - Country Club Road, Baguio Country Club, Baguio
  • Chalet Baguio  - Upper Military Cutoff Road, Baguio City Proper, Baguio
  • Le Monet Hotel  - Ordonio Drive, Camp John Hay, Baguio
  • Tiptop Vacation Homes  - 70A, Ambuklao Road, Simsim Compound, Tiptop, Pacdal, Baguio City Proper, Baguio
  • Azalea Residences  - 7 Leonard Wood Loop, Brgy. Manuel Roxas, Baguio City Proper, Baguio

Accessibility

Tourists can reach Benguet by land. Baguio City is the gateway to Benguet Province. There are a number of bus lines from Manila that have daily trips to Baguio. The travel time is about 5 to 7 hours.

Terminals that have buses that ply routes to Baguio:

  • Caloocan City Terminals
  • Pasay Terminals
  • Cubao Terminal

Buses, jeepneys and taxis are available as a mode of transportation when touring the province of Benguet.

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