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Climbing Mt. Kofafey | Maligcong, Bontoc, Mt. Province

Set to do anything crazy and stupid, me and my buddy Kurt, the Wind Trekker, hit the road with zero-itinerary on hand and decided to visit Mt. Province and scout the area except the famous Sagada and Banaue.

This little jaunt paved the way to our discovery of the indigenous community of Maligcong, hidden behind the mountainous side of Bontoc, Mountain Province in the Philippines.

The first day of our stopover at the only Home Stay in Maligcong already gave us the satisfaction of witnessing the grand view of Favarey Rice Terraces. But it never occurred to me that this view has a better angle at a certain point in Maligcong and that is at the top of Mt. Kofafey (not Kupapey) situated in Ang Tong Faw, Maligcong.

As suggested by Ezra, a local from Favuyan, we left the Home Stay at 4 in the morning after sipping a hot 'barako' coffee to waken us up. We crossed the pitch dark terraces with only a single flash light on hand, keeping ourselves on balance not to fall from the steep and clayey rice paddies.

The view in the morning in Mt. Kofafey
The darkness of the environment was quite tolerable but it was the freezing temperature that was so unbearable. As we ascend, we were perspiring like pigs and we can literally see the heavy air of our breaths coming out from our mouth and the sweat falling from my face were almost turning into icicles before it hit the ground, brrrrrrrr….

With a little moonlight shining over and guiding our path, the freezing environment revealed its majestic pine tree canopy covering the mountain side of Ang Tong Faw. The view in Kofafey was almost the same in Mt. Ampacao in Sagada, only the former was fresher and better.

With little time left before the sun rises fully,  we took our chances to take the "short cut", crossing and dodging the fierce guard dogs of Lolo Foanta (Adaan), the only native in Maligcong that wears the traditional clothes, 'bahag' day in and day out. Even if you call yourself a dog whisperer, I wouldn't suggest for you to have an encounter with Lolo Fuanta's dog as it was trained to kill at any point! So watch out!

The Grand at its PEAK!

Reaching the peak of Mt. Kofafey, we were astonished with its drop dead gorgeous landscape. At first, the whole area was covered with thick fog and we couldn't see anything other than the sea of clouds similar to the view at the peak of Mt. Pulag. When the fog slowly dissipated, we were startled to see the enormous rice terraces of Maligcong, covering all the rice fields within its boundary. I could only describe it as GRAND and simply a WOWWWER!

The rice terraces of Maligcong, view from Mt. Kofafey, Ang Tong Faw, Maligcong, Bontoc
Photo credit: Wind Trekker

I have never seen such beauty! It was like a picture or a painting perfectly crafted on a canvass by a grand master of art. This jaw-dropping view made my heart stop beating for a moment and I still couldn't believe with the awesome creation that I have just witnessed.

Feasting my eyes on the grand rice terraces in front put me in wandering why this place is not known to many. It is just a loss for someone who visits Bontoc and not seeing Maligcong and the wonder hidden beyond its mountains. I think the Local Tourism Department in Bontoc isn't really a fan of their own resources. WAKE UP PIPS AND DO YOUR JOB !!!

The sun rays reveal the golden grains of Maligcong. (Photo credit: Wind Trekker)

Waiting for the sun to fully shine, we took the chance to have our little snack (oatbar) and some chitchat as nothing else can be done other than camping and taking a nap under the century old pine tress. If we only brought  hot water with us, the peak of Mt. Kofafey was a perfect venue to sip our hot coffee while watching the sun rays reveal the greenish and golden grains of Maligcong. Well, we are saving it for the next time. After getting our desired images captured and saturating our mind with the grand view of Maligcong, we traced our trail back to our accommodation for our lunch and a little rest, energizing ourselves for our next destination, FAVAREY

The camping site at the view site of Mt. Kofafey, Ang Tong Faw, Maligcong, Bontoc, Mt. Province
The top of Mt. Kofafey is a perfect camping site for a group activity. Trekking the easy trail will take you an hour or two to reach the view point of the whole Maligcong Rice Terraces. The surrounding is covered with pine trees (Pinus insularis ) just like in Sagada, the temperature can drop up to 10-12 degree Celsius.

Salasalamat unay Maligcong !
(Thank you)

Accommodation in Maligcong?

If you are worry where to stay comfortably in Maligcong, the Home Stay and Coffee Shop of the Chess Family will comfort your chilly night. It is just along the road of the turning site of Sitio Favuyan. The place is quite popular as it is the only commercialized Home Stay in Maligcong. 

Just inform the driver to drop you at the Home Stay. You will be welcomed by they hospitable host Ate Suzette and her loving cute cuddly children Zhen, Roshin, Rinzai and Jounin. 

The stay will cost you Php 300.00 per head/ night. They can also serve food of your choice as long as the ingredients are available. Just request your preferred meal ahead of time and they will do the leg work to cook it for you. Their authentic Pinikpikan and Etag is a must try.

Maligcong Home Stay
Suzzette Chess
CP nos.(+63) 915.546.3557

Best Buy:

Tapuy and Basi are the local wines in Bontoc. But we suggest that you buy it from the Home Stay as they prepare the authentic wine made by the Igorot husband of Ate Suzzette. 

Oat Bar baked at Home Stay  is a must try and a good pocket food as you trek the terraces going to Favarey. It is sold for Php 20.00 each. I bought a box as pasalubong (gifts) for my friends and they loved it.

The mountain coffee of Maligcong is something you shouldn't taken granted as well . It is best suited with a oatbars especially in the morning while watching the thick clouds unfold the terraces of Maligcong.

Additional Tip:

Wind Trekker on 'selfie'  at Mt. Kofafey, Ang Tong Faw
Rice planting in Maligcong is done only once  a year as the community still performs the traditional rice planting and that is sowing the seeds by hand. We recommend that you visit this place on the months of January to early August. But as of now, rice planting is no longer done simultaneously due to decline in numbers of farmers.

Also, bring extra jacket as the temperature at night in Maligcong is as cold as Sagada. Prepare yourself for not taking a bath if you can't take the freezing water in the morning.

Cellphone signal for Smart Communications is very weak or almost none in Maligcong so better bring your Globe sim if you wish to have a connection to the outside world.

How to get to Maligcong,Bontoc?

Coming from Manila take a bus bound for Banaue. In our case we took the night trip with the schedule of 10pm from Ohayami Bus Terminal in Lacson/ Fajardo St. Sampaloc, Manila with the fare of Php 450.00 each.

Or better take the Coda Line Bus situated in Cubao as direct transportation to Bontoc.

The sea of clouds, Mt. Kofafey
From Banaue, we suggest for you to take the jeepney bound for Bontoc. It is just patiently waiting across the tourism office near the People's Lodge, fare was Php 150.00 each. You may also take the van bound for Sagada and just inform the driver to drop you in Bontoc near the Municipal Hall.

Beside the Municipal Hall of Bontoc you will find a  jumbo jeepney on queue bound for Maligcong. It has a specific schedule of departure until 4pm only, see below. Fare was Php 25.00 each. Just never mind the chicken and other  agricultural stuff you will be sitting beside or simply take the top load for fresher air and to enjoy also the grand view of Bontoc. Just be cautioned with the low lying electrical wires if you don't want to get strangled and hanged or electrocuted.

Jeepney Schedule:

Bontoc to Maligcong

Monday -Sunday 
Morning :
8:00am/ 12:00nn/ 

2:30pm/4:30pm/ 5:30pm

Maligcong to Bontoc

6:30am/ 8:00am/ 9:00am
2:00pm/ 4:00pm 

Recommended Tour Guide:

Agustine Carlos : (+63) 905.716.4698
Esra Carlos : (+63) 907.314.2912

Updates on my recent visit to Maligcong (2016):

The Rise of Maligcong Rice Terraces
Mt. Kupapey | Maligcong's Finest Viewing Point

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