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2012 Walkthrough to Camp Utopia, Kapangan, Benguet

Marie A. Balangue S.E.E.D.S Inc for the 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial 9/27/2012


This walkthrough was done to validate an Intelligence report during WWII and check the historic sites in Kapangan. I started walking from Kitma Village at 4.32 am. Initially, I had planned to walk starting 3am, but I had to finish slicing the organic carrots in preparation for a slimming tea I am leaving to ferment. After 44 minutes of walking, I had just reached the City Hall. So, based of Mrs. Nena Ogues-Masferre’s account of 30 minutes from Baguio to Kapangan, I’ve just walked 3 kilometers. That means, there must be another way she’s done it – either by running and being extremely fit. I continued on my way.

Interestingly, I noticed that the Guisad Valley National High School was on BADO DANGWA STREET, offshooting from the former Bokawkan Road (now called Buhagan Road). And further down after the crossing, the church of Bado Dangwa can be found:

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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After an hour of walking (from my home), I reached La Trinidad. I proceeded to a food chain outlet where I waited for Masako Okada to join me in walking. We walked through the Benguet State University Campus, avoiding traffic. We walked on the National Highway after the BSU Campus and then turned left on the road to Alapang. This road, we were told, follows the Old Spanish Trail to Kapangan. On the right and left sides of it, we see a lot of roses being planted (Barangay Bahong, Alapang) and chrysanthemum flowers.

The road is single lane in most parts, it only branches off to 2 lanes on the way to the Open Aerated Composting Facility built by the Embassy of Japan and the Japanese Agricultural Exchange Council, in cooperation with the Benguet Capitol.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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We walked down the Alno road until the cross roads leading to Sablan on the left side of the road and Asin and Tuel on the right side of the road. We were told by Mrs. Pina Paasa, who was walking home to Tuel, to take the right side. As we walked down the road, she told us stories of the plants that are being used in her area.

For instance, the plant pictured below looks like giant malunggay leaves. These were used to hasten the maturation of fruits before carburo, a chemical, was introduced to the farmers.


At Asin Hot Springs, Maccha (Masako) and I took a break. We dipped our hot feet and legs into the cool river and fell asleep. Then we tried out the hot spring that was nearby (Hooo!!!! Hot!) before taking back our feet into cool waters and getting ready to hit the road again.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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From Asin, Maccha and I walked on some flat land before climbing up the road. It was already 11 am by the time we were going up, and I felt so hot! Initially, I was wearing my `pants, changed to my skirt, changed my shirt, and ended up using my shorts and wet t-shirt to keep cool!

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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Going uphill was tough for me. I could hardly stand the heat generated by my body walking, and then the sun shone relentlessly. I would stop for about 2 minutes in a shaded area and wait for my throbbing pulses to calm down before rushing to the next shaded area along the road. Thank goodness for the trees by the roadside, these provided the rest areas for me. As we went up, we met an elderly Ibaloi lady carrying a tree branch from the somewhere to the left side of the road. We asked her about the way to Kapangan, and she said to keep going straight, or choose to ask one of the jeepney drivers nearby to drive us there. Maccha and I explained that we were tracing the path the evacuees of World War II had taken. She then recalled that she was about 2 feet high when the WWII erupted and she remembers the evacuation because she fell off a bridge on the river. Her father had quickly picked her up and reprimanded her to be careful where she stepped, as their village had an exodus to avoid the Japanese. She never saw any Japanese, and thought Maccha was Chinese! Her niece came out of the “bushes” with some leaves and I wondered if those were “pegpeg”. Pegpeg is an indigenous plant whose leaves are smoked by Ibalois. Smoked, it smells like healing guava leaves. The first time I encountered it was during the 2010 Campaign, when indigenous leaders were smoking and discussing a party’s strategies and assessing the crowd gathered in the plaza.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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After our conversation, Maccha and I continued on walking. We finished up our water and we looked for sari-sari stores along the way. At the sari-sari store, we ate our snack and then continued on our way, despite the noontime heat, especially because Maccha had to get back to her café. We passed some men sleeping on their stomachs by the roadside, too.

As we kept on walking, I started looking for a stick to use as a long cane. The uphill climb was very challenging and I would either use the cane to pull myself up the road or turn around and push myself up the road. Further up, we saw a huge balete tree. Across it looked like a huge limestone mountain and I asked Maccha to rest so I could check my cellphone if there was a signal and perhaps see some messages and reply to them. My guide in Kapangan, fellow Project 66 member, Randy Arandia, had indeed sent a text. He asked where we were, and I replied “Balete tree” and he texted back that he knew where we were by then. As we sat underneath the balete tree catching our breaths, I pointed out to Maccha that there were areas on the limestone that looked like caves and we could check from our position whether these were burial sites. We decided to continue walking due to time constraints. And then further up, we walked.

Now, walking to me is sometimes a contemplative or meditative walk. First, I would pray and then I would listen intently, sometimes to answers to my prayerful questions or just about anything. This walk, I had earlier dedicated to my grandparents who lived through the war, and I could feel a comforting presence that seemed to say, “Good, keep walking and realize how lucky you are to live during peacetime. Life was simple, and learn to go back.”

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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Maccha had gone ahead of me and I caught up to her by a Materials and Recovery Facility. I hurried as I heard her speaking with someone. A resident of Tublay, he was at the MRF facility checking and cleaning the roadside. He gave us some bananas to eat after hearing our story that I walked from Baguio and Maccha had joined me in La Trinidad. He continued with us, telling us how only 3 people in his barangay opted to work abroad, most depending on agriculture for a livelihood and simple living.

He left us when we reached the point where he will cut more grasses along the road. We continued on, checking for guava trees we could perhaps get some fruits to chew from. The ones we got were still jawbreakers, and we reminded ourselves that in November, the guavas will be ripe. We got to a Barangay Hall with a sign. Reading it, we looked around for residents nearby to ask where we would pass. One lady who also moonlights as a tour guide told us to follow the road to the school and then we’d be near the national highway by then. She also told us that there were caves to check out at their place: Ambongdolan Cave, Bengangao Cave, and the Paterno Cave. Only 2 caves were open to tourists, but the other one has not yet been cleaned of debris from the past storm, so she offered to show us one cave, still at PhP150/head. Maccha and I declined her offer, but promised to be back some day to visit the caves. At that stop-over, we also met the barangay nurse, Rochester Juan, doing his rounds to check on vaccinations. Finding out what we had walked from, he was interested in the local history of the place we were going to. And so we continued.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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Then a truck stopped beside us, and I asked where the driver was going. It looked like the one kilometer to the National Highway may take us an hour to go, and I was starting to worry for Maccha. Thank goodness, John August Li-is of Remnant Builders was on his way to La Trinidad so Maccha and I hitched a ride so she could get back to her café for her 5pm opening. I would make sure he drove well, and would get off at the National Highway. Or Maccha will have to come with me and we wait until she gets a ride from the junction. After the interview-ride, John and I got acquainted enough that I could trust him to drop off Maccha at her café. I then proceeded to Kapangan from the junction.

It was nearing 3pm when I got on the bus, the people were looking at me in my shorts, I quickly hid in the available seat shown to me. I then brought out my patadyong (skirt from the Visayas) and put it on. When we got to Kapangan, I got out, asked the conductor how much my fare was, and found out he was not going to charge me. I walked up to the Municipal Hall and checked if SB Chairperson Manny Fermin was still there, waiting for me, then looked around for Randy at the municipal abong. The Municipal Tourism Action Officer, Engr. Chris, saw me and fed me at the abong with my favorite – kini-ing and some fried chicken and rice. Randy came by to check on me and both laughed that I was wearing sandals. They thought I will not be able to make it to Camp Utopia because I wasn’t wearing hiking boots! Then I went up to check in with the Mayor’s Office and Sir Manny. Sir Manny had just celebrated his birthday and had some ice cream at the SB kitchen and I helped myself to dessert. Then he told me

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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he would not be able to join us because of an ingrown toenail that was bothering him, so we left for my first trail: Pongayan Trail at 4pm.

The Pongayan Trail is an exhilarating 45 minute trek through rice fields then a gradual climb up to the village. This barangay is the first one to be captured by the Japanese during WWII. The trail we took would lead us to an old house that was shot by a Japanese soldier. The story is that the bullet is still embedded in the post of the house today.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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The first interview I conducted that day was with Mrs. Constantia Garcia Tiw-tiwa. She is a descendant of the 1762 British explorer, Russel Dogen. She counted that she’s 5th generation from Russel. She lent us their family book, researched and compiled by Arlone L. Bogayo in 2007. In it, I found Sir Manny Fermin to be a part of the clan. Perhaps further reading will reveal my other friends’ relatives – the Manuels, the Bastians, the Binay-ans, and the Garcias (Randy’s mother belongs here). It showed how interconnected the families in Kapangan were. Also, I asked Mrs. Tiw-tiwa of her recollections of World War II. Russel Dogen’s remains are in Domenay Cave. His clan, springing from the marriage of his only knownabout grand-daughter, Sayod, to Gao-gao of Tublay, are buried here. It remains untouched, even during the WWII.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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After the interview, we continued on our way. We’d often step aside from the path to make way for the running cargadores. Those tiklis (big baskets) of vegetables looked very heavy!

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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To get to the house-with-a-bullet-embedded-in-it, we got off the Pongayan Trail and went to a house. A calf met us, mooing to be fed with some salt. At the house, we asked permission to see the house-with-abullet-embedded-in-it, found that the old man who knew where the bullet was wasn’t home yet, but his daughter decided to show us the place. We went to their clan home, still occupied by their mother, looked around but didn’t find the bullet. While we were discussing where to go next, back at the daughter’s home, the man to show us the house came home. We trekked back and looked around, only to give up when even after cleaning the posts with his bolo, he couldn’t find where the bullet was. We went back to his home and were served the having the sweetest black coffee I’ve ever tasted before embarking on our way.


After passing by the Pongayan Elementary School, which Randy pointed out to me was in need of more classrooms and walking on an almost muddy road, we came upon a cluster of old wooden homes. It was dark by then (about 7pm) and checking out who among them was old enough to tell us stories, we found Gibson Bacuso and his wife in one of the quiet houses. In this village, people sleep early, I observed, as they didn’t have television sets to watch and they were still a farming community. With Randy interpreting some Ibaloi and Kankana-ey and me understanding and translating into English the Ilocano I heard from the couple, we got their stories, then continued on our way to SB Manny Fermin’s home where we would spend the night. /marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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Thankfully, Sir Manny and his mother had waited up for us (we arrived at 9pm) after trekking through rice fields with bullfrogs croaking their night songs. He served us some deliciously cooked squid and fish (not native food to Kapangan) and I had to beg off from night time stories as I was very tired from my trek which started at Baguio and went to sleep. The room I was given was very comfortable, and I had a fitful sleep. At 3am, I heard the dogs barking and thought it was almost time to be up and start walking. I took a refreshing shower with cold water (it was not as cold as Baguio City would be at that time) and while I waited if Randy was going to come by and tell me to prepare (I wasn’t sure what time he told me to be up and ready to go—I thought I must have dozed off during dinner while the conversation touched on that), I decided to take a nap. By 7am, I heard sounds from the main house and got up when breakfast was called. I realized that no mosquitoes bothered me during the night, so I asked Sir Manny’s secret. He related that with his involvement in environmental programs, he tried planting many of the trees told to them and suggested that the tree with red leaves was responsible for repelling mosquitoes. I went out and looked for the tree and took a photo of it, to show other friends for identification. At 7.45am, we were ready to leave for our day’s destinations. Mother Fermin was going to work in the Central Hospital, Sir Manny was going to the Municipal Hall for meetings, and Randy and I would trek up to Camp Shangrila then to Sagubo. Along the way, we passed by Mrs. Emiliana Bolayo’s house and reminded her to prepare her stories for the next time we see her – at the Central School.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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We hit the trail to Camp Shangrila after passing by the still empty-but-recently-built War Museum. I noticed that walking uphill quickly raised my body temperature, and since I’ve had heat intolerance from my thyroid problems since 2008, I had to put on a wet t-shirt to cool me down. Also, I noticed that every 30 minutes, I’d look back and see views such as the one pictured below and these sights happened to have historical significance, like the path Japanese took to go from one barangay/village to another.

As we walked up the now-concreted road to Camp Shangrila, Randy told me stories at the 30-minute brief stop-overs, identify the viewed areas then we’d continue our walk. We got off the road to pass through a trail to Camp Shangrila after 2 hours of walking. There, we passed through pine-covered trails, sayote plantations, and some grazing land until we got to a cluster of houses with their laundry out. I got reminded that Maccha was looking for flour sacks and so I took a photo to show her of the different brands available. /marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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About 5 meters from the cluster of houses, it was Camp Shangrila! Looking around Camp Shangrila, I saw how the area was the training camp for Filipino guerilla soldiers. In the east, a flat strip of land could be used for “military crawling activities�. On the west, one can look to Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union, making me realize that the Morse Code or another code could be used as light signals for communication. Further imagination would be that the code beamed would /marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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have had to be either deep Ibaloi or Kankanaey, not interpreted by an Ilocano. [Ilocanos served as interpreters during the WWII because they were the ones educated pre-war for government positions in the highlands, more than the native highlanders. The few that were educated were in the medical fields.]

From Camp Shangrila, we proceeded to look for some rock formations that were reputed to have Japanese characters on them. This story was heard from a scout master, but as we looked around, we couldn’t find any. We then proceeded to go to the Kibatay Cave from here, through a trail that links Camp Shangrila to the outskirts of Camp Utopia which we could see from where we were standing. The trail, which we followed, ended up in sayote plantations. Further going down, it dawned on us that the trail has not been used in a long time, in favor of road networks that were begun. Though the roads were still rough, we couldn’t see how they would have led to the Kibatay Caves, so Randy, as the guide, decided we go back up the road developed by a telecommunications company and follow that to Sagubo.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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On our way to Sagubo, we’d pass by the former Duntog House of Paper. Established by Michael Parsons for his partner, Nida Dumsang, who is from the place, we went to check it out. Since the couple had split up, the place has fallen into disrepair, but the paper pulps were still intact.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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The Duntog House of Paper used to have an outlet on Brent Road. There, I saw handmade paper from different plants and different treatments of it. I encountered Nida’s artwork at National Artist Bencab’s place in Quezon Hill in 1990, and her mask would inspire me to do my International Baccaulaureate art work using recycled paper. As I gazed at the luxurious empty space around me and the paintings around, I felt a plea to restore the place to back to its organized beauty. From the caretaker, I learned that he had bought a grass cutter and I imagined the garden to once more be lush with short grasses and decorative plants.


After much story-telling with the caretaker, Wilson Lee, we ended up having lunch with him at his caretaker’s residence before moving on to “Landing.”

Road to Sagubo

Landmark to Kibatay Cave


A jeepney came by and since it was getting foggy, Randy led me to ride on the jeepney to cut our trek time short. Some fellow passengers in the jeepney asked when the exploration group will be coming, and I explained that I’m assessing the place so we know where we’d trek, where we’d stay, and what we would eat. On my list was to try out the products of Farmers’ Bakery in Landing. The passengers trusted that all will come in the due course of events. /marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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Finding the Kibatay Cave, we encountered some difficulty. Not only was the path slippery, the grasses were quite high and we had no ropes. We put its exploration of it for another time, with Puga Cave as an alternative. However, on our way back to the roadside, we met up with some women from the Womens’ Empowerment 2010 group and they told us that even they didn’t know of the places we were going to and that they wanted to be counted in the Exploration tour come October. Back at the Landing, we saw Councilor Canuto meeting with some members of the community for a livelihood and cooperative project. He was there to check up on their progress and ended up feeding us some merienda, giving us “baon” for our trek up to Camp Utopia (which looked possible at that time), and arranging for a vehicle for us to take us to Sagubo Elementary School, our jump-off point for Camp Utopia. At the Sagubo Elementary School, I made sure I dropped in on the principal, Mrs. Evangeline Pinong, to give her the message from MOOG Philippines’ manager, Steven Leece, on the project of Richard with some school children of SES. Assuring her that the school children’s work was for an exchange of stories for Richard’s children on WWII, we agreed that the project had a satisfactory ending. We also asked her of their schedule for the semestral break, because the Exploration Tour prioritizes the local teachers. We learned that they were set to do echoes of the seminars different teachers attended, so it seemed that the weekend schedule asked by the Sangguniang Bayan members and the employees of the Municipality would then be the one followed. Those dates are October 20-21, 2012. By the 22nd, the teachers could start their seminar echoes. Note to self: Start official communications with the DepEd-CAR for the teachers, start official communications with different schools for their invitations to the planned activity. After our courtesy call, we started trekking up to Camp Utopia. The way to Camp Utopia is mainly footpaths. Marked with roadwide areas (we later found out that a bulldozer had been up to Camp Utopia in the 1980s), the growth of the underbush has taken over, with one area having a landslide during Typhoon Pepeng in 2010. There are also 2 viewpoints marked by waiting sheds. This is the path that is reputed to have bloodsucking limatics, and I had liberally sprayed citronella on my legs to prevent the “matics” from clinging to me.

/marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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Along the way, we encountered four (4) schoolchildren sitting on a fallen tree trunk resting because someone had been bitten by a matic. I applied some of my citronella spray on her to lessen the itch and together, we climbed up the mountain to their homes. The 1.5 hour climb turned into 2 hours (perhaps because of my pace), so night had fallen. At a fork in the path, Randy started conversing with one of the kids to figure out where we were going to spend the night. I stood by waiting. When I glanced at my legs, I found that the standing about had allowed the limatics to start climbing up my sandals to my forefoot! I quickly flicked some off with my fingers and then applied some citronella. I also realized that perhaps, being immobile allowed the limatics to attach to me, so I resolved to keep moving. Unfortunately, we still had some distance to go, and the darkness was a deterrent to our progress. I wanted to run, but there were muddy areas where a herd of cows may have just passed through, I was trying to keep myself calm with the thought that we were near our destination. When we got there, our host was not around and Randy was once again conversing with a villager, trying to figure out where to stay. I was frantic by then because more limatics were on my forefoot, the citronella had no effect on them, so I exclaimed, “Don’t take too long to decide, and if you don’t decide soon, I’m going to follow the kid and leave you here!” The kid had gone back to hunt for us because upon reaching home, he found out that our host had gone down the mountain. I ran after him as he started to go back home – without any lights, mind you. By the time I got to our new host’s place, where we had to rouse the occupants to accept us, all I wanted to do was sit on a bench and put my feet up and inspect the “damages”. Randy and I had early on began a bet (with no prize in mind) to see whether having shoes and socks would be better than being in sandals. When Randy’s aunt opened the door to her home, my first question was, “Do you vinegar, please?!!!” I quickly took off my sandals and ran into their kitchen/hearth, sat and put my legs up on their bench, and began to check for any more matics. One I had flicked off at their door. Randy’s aunt began lighting candles so we could see better. I had on my headlight, but I felt I needed more light to check on my legs. On two areas, my feet were starting to itch like mad. Randy was laughing, reminding me of my foolish decision of footwear but I didn’t mind – I had once used these sandals climbing up Mt. Ugo in Itogon and no limatics got to me. What was different from the Mt Ugo trek to Camp Utopia trek was that I didn’t eat of drink any vinegar before the climb. Lesson learned with dire consequences. Randy’s aunt was so hospitable. She warmed some water for us, shared their dinner of pork and rice, and in return, we gave what I had bought – noodles and gin. A note: I had wanted to eat native fare. I had my moringa capsules with me so I wasn’t feeling hungry, and felt that noodles would be the easiest food to “cook”, given that we didn’t know what we’d find once up the mountain. We could even chew the stuff uncooked, if need be. The gin – it was going to be our present for the old folks, to warm bloods and loosen tongues for stories of “those days.” I don’t speak Ibaloi nor Kankana-ey, not having been taught in the Kitma neighborhood (Ibaloi) nor the residents of Bontoc Village (Kankana-ey), so I couldn’t follow the conversation and was so sleepy, I asked to be excused and go to sleep. Aunty led me to her daughter’s room, but upon learning that she slept in another one while her husband slept downstairs, I opted to sleep with her so Randy can have her daughter’s room. And then proceeded to sleep like a log! /marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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I slept fitfully and woke up late (blaming the limatics biting me). The sun had already started its rise, so the planned sunrise at Camp Utopia was not going to be possible. I followed Randy as he looked for the path to Camp Utopia and we ended up learning we were in Camp Liteng, the entrance to Camp Utopia.

Looking around Camp Liteng, once again, there were flat areas for possible training and we could view far mountains and villages. There was one rock jutting out of the ground that marks a path to Camp Utopia. At this point, Randy was disoriented because his last trip here was six (6) years ago. The path he remembered had been overgrown with grass, the path he remembered no longer traverses the settlement we were at. He continued to question about stories of the war and one man, Bonnie Palacsa, ended up telling us of his find of a gun.

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Bonnie Pacalsa is a farmer. He was going about his uma (garden) with his pet pig freely roaming on Camp Utopia. One day, he discovered his pig digging around a metal object. He continued the dig and found a metal object. He asked a neighbor for advice and was told that it would make very durable farm equipment, specifically a scythe and a bolo. He asked the village blacksmith to check it out, but the blacksmith found the metal too hard to work with. So Bonnie left the metal alone, putting it in a corner of his house for future use. Randy explained its significance. It proves that there was a Camp Utopia, and that Luis Tagtag’s story of machine guns, 50mm caliber, is true. I texted 3 friends of the find: Marita Manzanillo, from whom I heard of the Old Spanish trails and who referred me quickly to who could check and clean the gun; Gladys Alumit (who had texted me the night before and I just saw her text at this particular area of Camp Liteng); and Sir Manny Fermin, who texted back to remark that we had grounds for our historical studies. Then I turned to Manong Bonnie to discuss the worth of the find. I honestly told him that I didn’t know how much WWII artifacts cost because I didn’t imagine we’d find any, having heard on an earlier date that most WWII artifacts found by Kapangan residents were sold to antiques dealers in the 1980’s. Perhaps PhP500 from me and PhP500 from Randy would suffice for now. Randy quickly took out PhP1,000 so we could bring the remnant down the mountain. We agreed that if the price would be higher, we were to give back to Bonnie his share. Aunty came by to tell us breakfast was ready, and having fulfilled one unexpected mission (finding WWII artifacts), we got back to our hosts’ place. I couldn’t finish my share of the breakfast of sweet potatoes, pising and pork, and rice. I asked Aunty if I could pack it for when I got hungry during the day. She kindly packed the food for me, and I stuffed it in my pasiking (native knapsack). Having finished her duty for the morning (feed the animals), Aunty decided to accompany us to Camp Utopia.

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Before starting out, I took Aunty’s advice to use her other pair of boots for the trek. Not only did I not want any more limatic bites, I also wanted to put her mind at ease as our host and not give her trouble for being bitten. Aunty brought a plastic of salt with her and as we trekked, she observed that I walked slowly and that I wouldn’t see the limatics climbing up behind me, so she decided to walk behind me, making sure no limatics would climb up to my waist. Earlier, Randy had told her the story of Dr. Ryan Guinaran thinking that he wasn’t bitten by any limatics until he was wondering why he felt an itch on his waist and found a limatic had got that far up and bit him, in comparison to his friends who were bitten on the legs. And despite Randy’s shoes and socks, he also had limatic bites because some buried themselves in the cloth. From behind, Aunty would tell me where to go. Thirty minutes later, we reached Camp Utopia. There, we found cows grazing! They sniffed the salt we had, and I attempted to give some cow some salt, only to have my hand almost bitten off!!! Once again, there were many areas of flat land, where structures could have been erected. There was also a foxhole which now was filled with water and where a carabao or pig could wallow. As for the view, from a higher portion of Camp Utopia, one can see Baguio City, La Trinidad, Poro Point, and all the way possibly up to Darigayos, La Union on a clear day. In my mind, the 66th Infantry’s leader, Volckmann’s account was being validated. From Camp Utopia, Randy wanted to show me the rock where a mail plane would swoop down and hang the bag onto a pole protruding from a rock. The path was covered with a lot of spiny bamboo, I was very thankful for the bolos Aunty and Randy carried, as they hacked a path through for us to walk. I also found that the rock was a huge boulder, as huge as a 2-storey building (about 20 feet high and across). Interestingly, the local folklore of this boulder was that a resident from Gaddang saw a rock moving up the mountain and asked it where it was going and then the rock stopped. Another version relates that two spirits were fighting and the rock came up to take back its place. Whichever story is considered “truer” than the other, I found that the ground the rock settled on was quite unstable, and going to its ledge required a very courageous or foolish spirit – to cross a drop all the way down to the village below. I didn’t see where the pole could have been erected, as I asked Randy to find a path to the top of the rock and found none. What I saw were plants that couldn’t have possibly been from the Philippines (huge begonias which are “imported” according to vendors at the Baguio Orchidarium and a plant that looked like mistletoe). Also, there was a space between the rock and the mountain, and it felt sacred. Looking up on the sides of the boulder, we saw a plant that Randy and Aunty tell me, Igorots can climb with their bare feet. This put to rest our discussion on why pick a dangerous spot to drop mail and messages. From the “mail boulder”, we went to visit Aunty’s mother. At 96 years of age (at least), she could relate to us her experiences of the war. We passed a stream on the way to her home, and when I put my bootladen feet into the cool waters, I felt as if the stream was singing to me. Upon reaching Lola’s home, I felt sleepy. Even the eating my baon didn’t give me energy, I looked around and asked if I could sleep on a sack near the hearth. Lola, Aunty, and Randy told me to follow my instincts, especially since we were in no hurry. While I was asleep, Lola recounted a cave nearby where guerilla soldiers lived. She told Aunty that she knew the place, as she had shown it to Aunty when she was younger, so Aunty led us to it. There, in Ambasing Cave, I saw a place where the soldiers could have had their kitchen. Walking a bit further, we /marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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found their possible sleeping quarters. However, I felt a presence, and said, “Bari-bari” out loud, a memory from when my mother would tell my sister and I to excuse ourselves from walking into a different realm of spirits. After a few seconds, the heaviness on my shoulders eased, and I was able to approach the area with nary a thought in the world.

From the Ambasing Cave, we took our bags and moved to the Powerfalls. To get there, we passed through a river and some abandoned gardens, now grassy. We also passed by trees that had their sap harvested during the 1980’s, when the pine sap was an ingredient used for plastic manufacturing. It was quite exhilarating to surmise the age of the pine trees because of the difference in branches, girth, and markings, without having to cut the tree. This was a brain exercise that integrated knowing economic trends and weather patterns, specifically La Nina or El Nino phenomenon, referring to much rain or little rain. To get to the Powerfalls, we hiked beside a fence. It was situated next to a cliff, that I was awed at the bravery and care that would have been exercised to make it. Then it was a steep descent to the falls. When we got to the top of it, I was disappointed to see I couldn’t see it in its entirety. The drop was so far down and we didn’t have ropes to rappel down the mountain. We took a look at the surrounding plants and trees and amazed that 2 pine trees were planted right across each other at the top of the Powerfalls, then about 3 trees had pine mushrooms growing on them. Perhaps, these trees were hit by /marie balangue (S.E.E.D.S Inc for 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial)

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lightning, a fact we had to consider as we decided to go back, for safety reasons. Our next attempt to check out the Powerfalls would have to be an ascent from the village below.

We didn’t have anything else to check out, as I could see the Liang Cave from the trail. It was carved into a limestone boulder for goats to walk or sleep in, a shelter from the rain, so I didn’t relish the thought of climbing up to check it out. Following it was the Old Spanish Trail to a province of La Union, but we didn’t have time to go that far. As it was 2.15pm only, we decided to go back to Sagubo. The trek back to Aunty’s house took us an hour, and then I rested briefly before hitting the trail again. I had given back the boots I borrowed and put on my sandals praying that no more limatics would cling and bite me. I joked silently that they’ve tasted my blood and it was time to try others or just stick back to their grassy surroundings.

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The trek down Sagubo was much easier. I had a lighter pasiking (native knapsack) and the thought of going home was exciting. Randy though, had to carry the gun we bought. Along the way, we met the man who has another gun he put in his fence and he promised to give it to us for the War Museum of Kapangan. Then before hitting Sagubo Elementary School, we rested at a sari-sari store and Randy chatted with the men there about the project. Randy went to check on Ambo Rosendo, one of the referred interviewees. As I went and listened to Mr. Ambo, his three sons and a neighbor came to listen. I was falling asleep on the table as I was taking notes, then one of the sons, Rezie, admitted to have some artifacts. He told us stories of his adventures to find war artifacts and insisted I take his number for Japanese nationals interested in finding some of the bones of their compatriots on Camp Tuyeng.

As more stories came out, we ended up having our dinner and sleeping over at the Rosendos. Mrs. Rosendo arranged for me to use her daughter’s bed (across from their bed) while Randy had the other room. This arrangement shows how their family looks out for their unmarried daughters. The married sons and daughters had their own homes close to their parents’.

The next day, we paid a courtesy call to the Barangay Captain. Unfortunately, we didn’t find him at his home, having gone to the Municipal Hall for a meeting. His daughter told us that he came home from Baguio and waited for us until 9.30pm, but since there was no cellphone signal, we could not communicate with him. We then proceeded to the Municipal Hall to prepare for my going home.

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There, DILG man, Pablo, assisted us by also letting us meet with the Kapangan Ibaloi-Kankana-ey Indigenous People’s Organization and made arrangements as to how I could take the gun back to Baguio for cleaning and preservation. We also saw Sagubo’s Barangay Captain, Danny Eke, and showed him our find. Camp Dangwa, the regional headquarters of the Philippine National Police was notified and the message was that I could transport the gun as long as it is well wrapped. PNP Kapangan wrapped it for me, with Randy accompanying me because no government rides were available and I had to take public transport. It so happened that the Regional Director of the DILG (CAR) was checking up on her zone, so Sir Manny Fermin was able to ask if they could give us a ride, even just to Tublay. From Tublay, we could take a jeepney then a taxi to get to my friend who was waiting for us to clean the gun and make his assessment. When we got to Robin’s home, he wasn’t around yet, so we left the war artifacts with his sister and went to my home to rest awhile. Randy napped while I downloaded photos from his phone and arranged my photos as well. Then we went off to check with Robin. There, we would learn more about war artifacts.

To date, Robin continues on cleaning the gun, which turns out to be a Japanese anti-aircraft gun, the dynamo, and the antenna holder. I am set to find a metal detector so when we go back, we could check out some other sites and collect the other artifacts lying around. We would document how it was found, where, by whom, and what date – then acknowledge the artifact to the family or founder. We hope that there will be more stories collected, as well as artifacts. History, when seen with its artifacts, and the path traced, take on new significance when experienced in a historic tour. Note: ** Please note that RA would be photos by Randy Arandia, and MO for Masako Okada. Other photos unmarked are mine.

For more information on Kapangan Historical Tours, contact: Randy Arandia Kapangan Environmental Guides Association +63 912 641 3760 Manny Fermin SB Councilor, Municipality of Kapanga, Benguet +63918 942 0527

For more information on the 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial, contact: Marie Balangue Founder & Executive Director, S.E.E.D.S Inc +63 916 478 9199 / +63 939 669 8410 Koji Imaizumi +63 90 812 4185 Betty Listino Deputy Director, ResearchMate +63 915 654 4743

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Walkthrough to Camp Utopia  
Walkthrough to Camp Utopia  

This is in line with the 3rd Asia-Pacific International Peace Memorial activities for 2012. It is our community outreach with the Municipal...