MOUNTAIN PROVINCE | Bonfire Dinner at Sagada’s Lake Danum

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dusk at Sagada's Lake Danum

Following the tiring hike up and down the Bangaan Rice Terraces, Lake Danum was the last stop for the day.

It was already past five when we started for our last rendezvous. We were chasing the sunset at the brown placid waters of Lake Danum as our van tackled the uneven clay road up the lake. 

We arrived around six in the evening.  There were already patches of campers surrounding the shoreline setting up their bonfires for the coming evening.
The Chicken Going Through the Fire at Sagada's Lake Danum
The sky was heavily overcast and the sun was unfortunately unable to break through the the thick flat clouds that covered the heavens.  Dusk was slowly settling over the silty lake.

I had to make do with the light available, which by the time my camera and tripod was set-up, was dwindling quite fast. After three long exposures, I gave up and decided to just enjoy the bonfire.

The temperature was dropping down and I forgot to bring my jacket with me. This was my first time to experience a bonfire and I was unfortunately ill-prepared for it.

Our group had to content ourselves at looking on as one of the other groups roasted their hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire. Our corresponding guides joined us for the bonfire banquet to cap off the day’s events; we were told that it was going to be Pinikpikan for dinner.

Pinikpikan is a ceremonial dish from the Cordilleras. It is prepared by beating a live chicken using a stick before cooking, the bruises from the beatings, supposedly enhancing its flavor. Animal rights people may cry foul over this practice but this custom has been around since time immemorial in this part of the Philippines. It is said that after the chicken dies, it is then sliced open to unveil a divination in its blood. 

The chicken is then turned over a few times on the bonfire to cook its skin and completely remove its feathers. Afterwards, it is left to stew on a veggie broth until fully cooked.

The preparation for our supper took some time and while waiting we introduced ourselves to Ben, Preparing the Pinikpikan at Sagada's Lake Danumeach other. Our guides then hosted a game of Pinoy Henyo, with Sagada locales as the subjects. Our group lost hehe.

After a while, our Pinikpikan was finally served with steamed white rice. The chicken meat was a bit hard and I was a bit uncomfortable eating without a table;  my legs were still sore from the cramps I suffered during the trek at Bomod-Ok Falls. But when you’re hungry, I guess those things really do not matter anymore, it’s just you and the food.

As the clock struck ten, everyone had their fill and a few cans of beers were passed around. The bonfire was about to go and the air was getting colder and colder. The night was about to engulf us; it was finally time to go back.
Even though I was unable to fully explore Lake Danum, it was still a fun experience; the late afternoon ride to the lake, the cool mountain air, the warmth of the bonfire, the laughter and stories passed in betweens and the Pinikpikan dinner finale. This is, as our guide Ben puts it, Sagada’s version of a night out.

Hugging the Bonfire at Sagada's Lake Danum
Roasting Hotdogs at Sagada's Lake Danum Bonfire at Sagada's Lake Danum

       Recommended SAGGAS Guide: Ben Calpi – (0929) 591-5212 
       SAGGAS website:


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