Peñablanca River, northern Sierra Madres, Cagayan Valley
In 1995, I approached the UP (University of the Philippines) IPEG, a research initiative in studying Philippine entholinguistic groups, and I offered my services as an anthropological researcher. They were initially hesitant in taking me in, because they had already competent teachers and students, who are ready to do field research. However, I convinced them that my training in mountaineering and first aid, as well as documentation would beneficial to the team. So Dr. Zayas and Dean Paz took me under their tutelage, with Eloisa C. Verdolaga helping me along the way.
1996: My first assignment was with a team to do research among the Itawes people up the Peñablanca River, northern Sierra Madres, Cagayan Valley.
The main area of our study was in this village called Lapi, which was supposed to a site of an ancient battle between the Itawes and the Agta people.
The Itawes have already let go of any customs that predated the Spanish colonial era, but they have developed their own fold variation of Christianity, which includes interventions of a dwarf named “Kulit”. I wish I could find my other photographs of this trip, but most of them are just documentations of their material culture.
Here we are with our host family, on the day we were to return to Aparri City.
The upper Peñablanca region is no tourist spot, and all rugged country. Much of the mountains are bald due to framing, some cattle, and logging. However a notable site is the Callao caves, which is where our journey began. It is known for the chapel built into the cave. I have no picture of the place, so I am sharing someone else picture from the net.