Alab, A Barrio With an “Ancient” Past

1000 Steps; Ganga Cave, The Petroglyphs
The barrio of Alab features the 1000 steps, the ancient burial site, Ganga Cave, the Petroglyps, Mateyak Falls and a great view at the mountain top.
Alab is located along the Halsema Highway. If you are going to Baguio, the boundary is located at the Amlosong Jumbo bridge before Dantay and if you are going to Bontoc from Baguio, the Boundary is located after Malitep in Balili. Alab Oriente has a population of 358 and Alab Proper has population of 576.
How to Go to Alab
If you want to go to Alab, the jeep station is in front of the Aglipay General Merchandise or near the XiJEN Business Center. The ride to Alab is from 7:30am until 5:00pm. You can also ride on a bus to Baguio and stop at Alab. There are two bus companies that pass through Alab.  These are the GL Trans which parks at the Circle, near Land Bank-Bontoc Branch or the Rising Sun Trans which parks near the Bontoc Town Hall.  The buses leave for Baguio starting at 6:00 A.M. (Rising Sun) and every one an a half hour afterwards.  The last trip to Baguio City is 3:00 P.M. by the Rising Sun Trans.  You can also hire a tricycle (sets you back by one hundred twenty pesos).
In Alab, there is no hotel or restaurant. It is up to the barangay officials to accommodate you, they give you food and if you want an overnight stay they will provide a room for you to sleep. It is not a problem to them because the people there still practice hospitality. They will respect you because you are a visitor of the barangay.
What to See:
1000 Steps
The 1000 steps to the Ganga Caves of Alab is a cardio treat.  It tests your stamina but the hike is worth it.  A commemorative t shirt- “I Survived 1000 steps” can be had at the Barangay Hall of Alab.
The Petroglyphs
Ganga Cave of Alab.  Final resting place of the people of Alab in ancient times.

Ganga Cave of Alab. Final resting place of the people of Alab in ancient times.

A petroglyph is a carving on a rock. The Alab Petroglyphs is located across the Chico River, a short distance upstream from Bontoc. It was declared a national cultural treasure in 1975. Still undecipherable, it is a huge rock with bow and arrows and human figures etched on the surface of the mountain where the rock stands. Brgy. Alab is located 9 kms. south of Bontoc on the Halsema Highway. The petroglyphs are a three-hr. climb above the village and past burial caves. It is believed that the inscriptions portray fertility rites.  This is the reason why I say my barrio home has an ancient past.  If only further studies are to be made-as the inscriptions on the cave, tend to portray, a civilization ahead of their time.

The Ganga Cave

Ganga is a cave located above the rice fields of Alab Oriente Bontoc. It is a burials cave which they believe the people who are buried their teenagers who went to the mountains to get some firewood.

IMG_2826Long time ago,  the e-alab teenagers (babalos and babalasang) of Alab (Proper and Oriente) went to   mountain of Dongyowan to get some firewood. They rested on a big rock in Binut-buto looking down a rice field (Kebasan). As they are resting, one of them challenged the other to throw a pointed stick down to the rice field and who will throw the farthest is the winner. They did not know that a pregnant woman is planting rice and they did not intend to hit her. They still continue throwing pointed stick and all of a sudden  all of them feel sleepy, they went asleep and after hours later as they woke up, they saw a sticky rice (diket) in a basket and a bundle of tobacco that was offered to them. They did not notice who brought them that food for them but because they are all hungry, they  ate  the food that was brought to them. They also did not continue to get firewood because it is already dark. As they went home they all went to the ato (dap-ay) to give the bundle of tobacco to those older people who are taking in tobacco. That night, the people of the village heard that the teenagers suddenly became weak and some of them are dying.

The old people who took in the tobacco went dizzy. According to some of the old people, the cause of their death is the food that they ate  because it is the pregnant woman who brought them the food for them. In the morning, all of the teenagers who when to get firewood were all dead. The people of the village planned to make ah coffin for all the dead. The old people of the village planned to bury them in a cave above the rice fields and the name of the cave is GANGA.

Now a days some people say they are hearing some sound like playing a gong, or cutting firewood, and even some are crying. They are not already putting the dead on that cave because some say they are not comfortable.

Written by:

Christine Mocyat
Computer Secretarial
Xijen College of Mountain Province


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