Growing up my parents spoke English to me, but when they spoke with other Hinungangnons/Pilipino folks I think they blended English, Tagalog, Visaya, Cebuana, and Waray-waray into a really unique language only a few probably understand.  But when my dad told stories, I remember him talking about some place called “Sambuhan” (I’m not sure how to spell it). This is what led me to take my journey to Calag-itan.

I’m not even sure if that’s a real word or place or if anyone would recognize this word or if Sambuhan is a place/word my parents made up, but the story goes when my dad was young he went to the “mountains” of Hinunangan to live and farm.  If your dad is anything like my dad there are usually huge gaps in his stories and/or logic, but my aunt did confirm that my dad and their younger brother went up to the mountains and that a lot of Hinunangnons had to journey up the mountain when the Japanese came.  Of course these are stories from my relatives that I have not yet researched or validated on my own, but when I last visited in Hinunangan I wanted to go to this “Sambuhan” place.

My cousin was relucant because he said it might be dangerous to go there, but he did take me to a place that the locals refer to as “Bukid Talines” or I’m told the “highest point” in Hinunangan.   To get there I hopped on the back of my cousins motorbike and he drove from Poblacion and headed North past the barangays Bancas A, Talisay, Canipaan, and Pondol, until we reached Calag-itan.  The ride was really nice because it was on a very nicely paved road that followed Hinunangan Bay.  I believe this road is called Tabjon.

Calag-itan road Calag-itan tabjon

On the map of barangays, Calag-itan is pretty far North; after Calag-itan is Ingan and after Ingan you are already in another municipality and out of Hinunangan.  I want to say the next municipality is the town of Silago, but I’m not certain about that.  I’m also not entirely certain that Bukid Talines is in Calag-itan, but it makes sense because we were riding on the main road for a while and the road started to wind up a mountain.  But this is just the beginning to get to Bukid Talines.

On the main road, my cousin hired someone with a sturdy motorbike and considerable off-road motorbiking skills to go with us.  It would be too difficult for both me and my cousin to be on his bike AND make the steep incline up the mountain.  So the hired driver had to be much lighter so I could hop behind him and the weight wouldn’t be too difficult for the bike to handle.  From the main road we turned left onto a dirt road and started going up the mountain.  For the first 10 minutes we were able to make a pretty good pace because the path was pretty clear and and wide.

Road to Bukid Talines (Calag-itan) Motorcycle traveling to Bukid Talines (Calag-itan)

But as we climbed up the mountain the path became narrower and was no longer as smooth as the beginning portion.  In fact, we had to stop on numerous occassions because I kept on leaning back, making it hard for the driver to maneuver around the rocks.  I guess I’m not used to riding a motorbike up a mountain, but my cousin told me I had to lean forward and wrap my arms around the driver so my weight is more centered and to the front.   This definitely helped out and the driver was able to make it through the middle portion of the trip up.  But so many times there were obstacles like a series of bumpy rocks protruding from the ground or a really narrow path that didn’t look very sturdy or just really rugged, awkward terrain that I just hopped off the bike and walked so the driver can safely get across.  This happened frequently enough that when something came up I already knew when it was something he could handle or if it was walking situation.  But I really give kudos to the driver because it really took some serious skill to get me up that mountain.  The pictures I took don’t really capture how difficult it is to ride up Bukid Talines.  The pictures below show me and the driver on the bike that took us to the top and the second picture shows how close I had to be behind the driver.

Road bike with driver Difficult path to Bukid Talines

In total I estimate that it took almost 30 minutes trying to get the motorbike up the mountain from the bottom entrance at Calag-itan to the top.  The problem is when most Americans make their way to the top of a mountain, they usually want some sort of payoff – a breath-taking panoramic view for instance – but when we reached the top, or at least what my cousin said was the top, there was so much trees and jungle that there really isn’t something to see “at the top.”  This picture is the point where we turned around and started heading down. Calag-itan SummitBut they payoff for me came not at the turnaround point, but just before, as we were steadily riding up the steep incline of the mountain.  My cousin thankfully had the cognizance to pull over to the side of the dirt path and he told me to take a picture and I’m glad he did.  This was the single best picture from my trip because the view from up here was spectacular, and incredibly unique, which is why this picture from Bukid Talines is on the home page .  Not only did it take a while to get to this point (riding past 4 or 5 barangays), but we had to carefully climb up the mountain.  And from this vantage point you could really see how far we’ve come just to get to this point.  And I think my parents and all my relatives somehow managed to walk all this way from Panalaron , without any motorbike to help them?  That  is tough, and I think that is why my parents’ generation is tough because they had to do things the hard way.  But for me, this single moment gave me a greater appreciation for the beauty that is Hinunangan and made me feel somewhat connected to the history that my family holds with this place (even if this isn’t Sambuhan – I like to imagine this is what they saw walking up the mountain all those years ago).