A low rainbow splashed across the verdant rice terraces of Maligcong. It was drizzling on and off the whole day, but as the sun peeked across the thick blanket of clouds capping the mountains for a brief moment, a hue of colors suddenly brightened the view right in front of us. And no, we weren’t tramping on the muddy trails leading to Mount Kupapey. Nor we were traversing Maligcong’s rice terraces. We weren’t even on the track leading to Mount Fato. We were simply at the wide open-aired veranda of ate Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay, chilling it out with Misty the dog and litros of very cold Red Horse beer.
|BONTOC’S POBLACION, STILL ONE MORE JEEP AWAY FROM MALIGCONG|
It took six hours worth of bus ride from Manila to Baguio, one quick breakfast at our favorite lugaw place in the city of Pines, Goto BP, then a taxi ride to Slaughterhouse bus terminal, another six hours on a non-aircon bus ride across the cliffs of Benguet and Mountain Province, and finally an uphill jeep ride from the town of Bontoc to Maligcong before we reached Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay.
|WHEN YOU SEE THE MALIGCONG VIEWPOINT, THAT MEAN’S YOU’RE ALREADY AT SUZETTE’S|
A pack of dogs wagging their tails greeted us upon arrival, and so did a spread of the rice terraces from the inn’s veranda. It was beautiful. And it was just right where we were staying! We could definitely coop up here for days on end. And that, eventually, is just what we did during most of our hours in Maligcong.
|THE MALIGCONG RICE TERRACES|
|SIXTEEN-DEGREE WEATHER AT MALIGCONG|
Maligcong is still part of Bontoc, Mountain Province. To be more precise, it is one of the sixteen barangay of Bontoc. The place has recently started gaining popularity as an alternative destination to Sagada and Banaue since it also has its share of rice terraces and hiking trails, sans the throngs of tourists.
|ONE OF THE FRIENDLY DOGS AT THE HOMESTAY|
There are currently no hotels in the area, what it has are homestays, exactly three of them, with another one currently under construction and opening later this year. During our four-day Christmas vacation trip, we decided on Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay since most of our friends has already stayed there and has vouched on how gracious a host ate Suzette is, and her friendly dogs—Misty, Kunig, Maku and Tiny—of course, who usually tags along with guests during their hikes.
|OUR FAVORITE PLACE, THE VERANDA OVERLOOKING THE RICE TERRACES|
Suzette’s homestay has a total of four rooms which can house a maximum of 25 persons. One of these has its own toilet and bath, while the rest shares a common outdoor one located a few steps away from the rooms. Bring your own toiletries, by the way, as like most homestays, they don’t provide them. They’re currently constructing additional rooms.
|ROOM FOR THREE NIGHTS, QUITE COZY|
Since the one with CR has already been booked in advanced, we were given the four-bed room. It actually has two, double-deck beds, but ate Suzette was kind enough to provide it entirely for us (we were just two people) without additional charge. The room is spartan, but quite cozy with its unpainted wooden floors and walls, one of which has a window that opens directly over the balcony and onto the rice terraces beyond. The beds are very comfortable and they provide thick blankets for Maligcong’s cold nights.
|DANGIT AND CHAMPORADO FOR BREAKFAST|
|ANOTHER FAVORITE, BONTOC LONGANISA PLUS FRIED EGGS, RICE AND POTATOES|
Food is provided for by the homestay at PHP120.00 per meal per person. During our stay, we ate our way through plates of crispy dangit, garlicky Bontoc longanisa, boneless bangus, pork stew and steaming hot champorado. These are usually set with steamed white rice and soup, fries or fresh veggies.
|CRAVING FOR A CAN OF SARDINES|
Guests can also cook their own meal, if one so prefers, or you could also ask ate Suzette to cook for you for a minimal fee. We did once. After our Maligcong rice terraces traverse, I was craving for a spicy bowl of sardines in tomato sauce. I bought one from what seems to be the only sari-sari store in the area, then picked a few pieces of chili from the garden, and let ate Suzette do the cooking. Paired with steaming mountain rice, it was perfect for Maligcong’s chilly weather.
|VIEW FROM THE VERANDA|
Besides spending our time staring at Maligcong’s rice terraces from the veranda whilst downing glass after glass of beer and chit-chatting with the guests coming and going at the inn, we also walked around the area. Well, we would’ve gone to Mount to Kupapey for the sunrise and Mount Fato for the sunset, but it was just too darn wet and muddy.
|LET’S SEE WHERE THIS TRAIL LEADS TO|
|IT OPENED UP TO THIS VIEW|
During one of our mini jaunts, I found a small pathway just a few steps away from the guesthouse. Curious, we followed it and found a set of narrow concrete stairs leading ever downwards. After some steps, the view opened into mountains filled with pines with what looked like twin lakes at the bottom.
|FOLLOWING THIS SET OF CONCRETE STAIRS LED US TO THIS PANORAMA|
|LAYERS OF MALIGCONG|
We pursued the path until finally, it led us back to the road. Since we went down, it was only logical to go up the winding road. It proved to be correct and we were back at the Maligcong homestay’s veranda, sipping on their unlimited brewed mountain coffee after some minutes of slow uphill walk.
|WE LOVE THIS PLACE!|
We do love our homestay’s veranda. More than anywhere else, this is where we mostly spent our time in Maligcong. This is where we have breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is where we shared stories with ate Suzette and her guests. This is where we hang out with Misty and her pack. This is where we drink our coffee, staring at the view for hours on end. And this is where, as the clock strikes four, have our beer sessions. It’s the perfect place to visit Maligcong without actually straining your leg muscles.
Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay
Address: Maligcong Road, Barangay Maligcong,
Bontoc, Mountain Province
Contact Number: (0915) 546-3557
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Rental Rates: PHP350.00 per person
Meal Rates: PHP120.00 per meal
GPS Coordinates Map: 17.123127, 120.975260