After the Pulag adventure, we went back to Kabayan to experience the “Bendian (bendiyan)Festival”. There were several programs and activities during the festival. But let me start by describing our experience with the people of Kabayan. First and foremost, we would like to say our big thank you and appreciation to the Municipal Officials led by Mayor Faustino Aquisan for accommodating our group. Kabayan is the “Ibaloi” center of Benguet and unlike the stories we’ve heard, Kabayan people are not shy. They are in fact jolly and friendly. The municipal officials were also walking around in their casual clothes, far from the fancy suits of city officials. We saw how the Sangunian officials serve their constituents and visitors by carrying cooking materials, wood and even serving them food themselves. Also, during our casual discussions throughout the four day festival, we did not feel that we were talking to the Mayor of the Municipality because he was down to earth. Mayor Aquisan made us feel at home. He was approachable and ate what we were eating. This was one thing we appreciated so much during the festival. The local leaders from the mayor down to the barangay officials were eating with their constituents. If that was Baguio city or other areas, the politicians would have scrammed and went to eat at the VIP tables with “special” food prepared for them.
The first activity we saw was the “cook – off”. It was a competition of cooking the best dishes with cauliflower as the main ingredient. The competition was participated by some of the best “cooks” of Kabayan.
After the cooking competition was the cultural performances by some of the elders of Kabayan. They performed the different Ibaloi dances and showed the audience how it is proper executed.
At around 4:30 in the afternoon, there was a circus and acrobatic show. It was an afternoon full of fun and laughter.
After dinner, some of us went to rest early, others had bonfire.
We woke up early because we wanted to see the sunrise, it was fascinating. We saw someone walking in his shorts and slippers. He was looking at the stage and the municipal grounds. It was the Mayor. He was also up early. By 7:30am, our group was already at the municipal ground for the much awaited Kabayan Eco-walk.
Our tour guide for the eco-walk was Ms. Irish Albon. We started our Kabayan tour by walking around the rice fields going to the Kabayan Museum. The water running in the fields were clear, at least it is still far from being polluted.
We reached the Museum and we were excited to see a real “Kabayan Mummy”. The museum is full ancient culture. There were traditional cooking wares, hunting weapons, animal clothes and at the center was a mummy believed to be a century year old. The Museum was full of history. Sadly, taking photos inside the museum is prohibited. Although no one was around to see if we were taking pictures, it was innate among us not to take pictures inside the museum, especially the lady mummy.
After the museum, we hiked for almost two hours down the mountain sides towards “tinungchol cave”. The man made cave is actually a big rock with big holes carved on it. Watch the video below to see what it looks like.
Kabayan is also home to another man made cave. It has hundreds of human skulls and remains. It was kind of creepy, but we survived. hahaha.