History of the Mt. Kalugong Eco-Park in La Trinidad, Benguet

[Note] The following story is a copy of an article printed in a brochure promoting the Mt. Kalugong Eco-Park in the town of La Trinidad in Benguet. The brochure was given to us when we visited the mountain one time. The brochure says that the story was by a certain Felipe Neis Gadgad and that it was compiled by Norma Pablo. Anyway, here’s the story.

Mt. Kalugong, the enthralling mountains overlooking the panoramic view of the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines” and the flower gardens of La Trinidad, Benguet is just another irrefutable wonder! It is derived from the hat-shaped rock sitting at the edge of the mountain furtively watching over the plains of La Trinidad, seemingly contented with its indubitable throne. Up there, the said hat-shaped rock looks shy, calm and elusive. “Kalugong” is the local term for hat or cap.

Mt. Kalugong was known to the first settlers of Tawang, La Trinidad as “tayawan”. “Tayawan” is the place where they dance “tayao”, the cultural dance of the Ibalois. The settlers then claimed that they often heard gongs being played at the mountain top. Along with the synchronized and captivating melody form the gongs and drums, they would see flames and smoke rising up high. These made them wonder who their neighbours were and why they feasted so often.

One day, when they heard the gongs again and saw the thick smoke swirling up high and the tall flames blazing brightly above the mountain, two old men went up to see for themselves. The two old men were surprised to see many enthusiastic men and women tirelessly playing gongs and buoyantly dancing “tayao”. Several jars of rice wine were lined up at one side and some men and women were everywhere giving out rice wine (tapey) in bowls made from coconut shells locally known as “kawil”. The two old men were instantly thunderstruck. What a splendid feast!

After watching from a distance, the two old men joined the people at the dancing ground. To their astonishment, none of the dancers and the people around took notice of them like they didn’t exist at all. The two old men began to feel scared. They held their breath for they realized that the men and the women who were all gathered there at “tayawan” were ghosts. Harmless ghosts to their relief!

The beautiful rhythm and the seemingly endless rejoicing had gone before World War II. The people missed the orchestrated music and the majestic feast they used to hear from the top of the mountain. Where have all those mysterious people gone? No one knew the answer.

As years passed by, “tayawan’ was forgotten. Perhaps it was because the ghosts had stopped dancing; or perhaps those ghosts had miraculously turned into rocks! Right on the mountains of Mt. Kalugong, aside from the hat-shaped rock, limestone rock formations of varying shapes and sizes appearing lofty and unyielding abound. These exceptional gyms are real and tangible. They are history themselves.

Don’t miss them! Come to Mt. Kalugong now!

[Other mountains in Benguet that you should climb and check out: Mt. PiginganMt. TabayocMt. YangbewBakun Trio.]