IN TRANSIT | Bontoc by Cable [bus]

Can't kick the habit

There is no cable car from Manila to Bontoc.  It's the name of the bus to Bontoc, Mountain Province.

On our way to Bontoc, there was a stalled 16 wheeler truck ahead of us, thus the temporary "stop-over" and for me to take some shots of this scenic spot between Banaue and Bontoc.   Good thing, the stalled vehicle was almost done replacing its busted tire when we arrived at the place.  A good 15-minutes was enough for me to take some photos.

For those who are used to going to Bontoc and Sagada via Baguio City, I suggest this route instead, via Cable Bus (not an endorsement, though).   This bus takes the NLEX-Bulacan-Nueva Ecija-Nueva Vizcaya-Ifugao route.  It leaves at night so there is nothing to see along the road.  But going back to Manila from Bontoc through this route allows you to see the more scenic part of Halsema Highway from Bontoc to Banaue.  At the time we went there, there was an ongoing road construction but the roads were more or less okay.

The buses are a bit slower and smaller compared to other buses plying Baguio City.  So an advanced booking is advised so you can be accommodated, and have some finger-food with you to survive the long haul.  It can be a little cramped, too, especially when you are not the average-sized Filipino.   But you will get used to it.

There is also a positive side to it--you get a glimpse of Cordillera culture by watching or listening to the music videos and songs the bus conductor plays.  At the time, we were treated to songs of love and despair, of daily life in the mountains, and a variety of "Western" music--in Kankana-ey and Ibaloi dialects--uniquely Cordillera style.  We were totally alien of the dialects. Save for the videos that accompany the songs that permit me to understand their meaning.  When some local passengers would giggle at some songs, we get the cue that it is humorous.

I would caution travelers, though, that music is played loud even in the middle of the night till the wee hours of the morning. Understandably, the driver needs to be fully awake in the zig-zagging roads of Sta. Fe, the road leading to Banaue, and the dark and deserted Halsema highway from Banaue to Bontoc.  But don't worry, you will sleep on it in due time (smile!). It took us 12 hours to travel, from 7PM in Manila to 7AM in Bontoc.

Do you like this article?  Like us on Facebook, too!


Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.


ian said...

ohhhh so that is cable bus pala... been wanting to take a ride sa busnayan before pa... =)

Admin/Author said...

yes...btw, its terminal is infront of KFC near St. Lukes, E-Rod.

thepinaysolobackpacker said...

hoping to visit Bontoc soon. yan pala yung bus arang yungmga bus lang papuntang Sagada sa Baguio

Admin/Author said...

yes Gaile, But they are airconditioned.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...

How long has Cable Bus been operating?

Admin/Author said...

@Gay, we went to Bontoc via Banaue in 2009. So I think earlier pa sila operating.