By Carl Cariño Taawan
Deep gorges separating and isolating many sitios and barangays, rocky cliffs formed as human faces, and pine-covered mountains that are said to resemble those of Switzerland. A place named after a primate.
In the mountains of Kibungan dwelt monkeys that are believed to have vanished because of the degradation of the forests and hunted for food. These monkeys were bigger than their common families found in the area today. The Americans named this municipality after these primates. They were called by the locals “Kibengan”.
One of the people who saw the said monkeys was Bernabe Wance. “It was probably in 1932 that they still roamed these mountains, “he said. “As the population grows, the monkeys were hunted for food. The monkeys eventually run away or have been wiped out.”
The increase of population in Kibunga escalated when the logging and mining industry expanded in the area. Bigger communities like those from Sagpat and Lobo were formed during the gold mines that closed down sometime in the 80s.
Today Kibungan is subdivided into 7 Barangays. Badeo, Lubo, Madaymen, Palina, Poblacion, and Sagpat. The language in this municipality is mainly Kankanaey. It is located within a cool highland mountainous zone with elevations at more than 2500 meters above sea level. During its coolest months of December – January, Barangay Madaymen experiences a chilling temperature of 0 degrees Celsius causing the famous Frost of Madaymen.
The municipality has many sites to offer but many can be reached only through hiking. Here are some of them.
Les-eng Rice Terraces
These magnificent terraces can be reached after a 6-hour hike through lush pine forests in Barangay Tacadang.
Located in the northeastern part of Barangay Poblacion. It is approximately 2.5 kilometers in length and is about 3 kilometers away from Poblacion Proper. The river originates from ridges of nearby Barangays Madaymen, Palina, and Tacadang and supplies water to rice paddies and vegetable farms along the vicinity.
Palina Rice Terraces
In Barangay Palina at the foot of Mt. Kilkili believed to be a former volcano because of its conical shape. Constructed following a century-old system of rice terraces built with stone walls and neatly arranged one after the other. The rice terraces are at their best in December and June when the rice paddies turn golden yellow, near harvest time. The Palina rice terraces are known as the municipality’s rice granary.