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Banahaw Tugtugan at Bangkong Kahoy Valley




I was feeling stressed because my friend was questioning why we traveled so late in the night. She was already in the venue, at a music festival called, Banahaw Tugtugan in Quezon. She had company, but she was waiting for us, hoping to hang out. I told her that I wouldn’t leave my other friend; the only reason she was late was because she came from school and she traveled all the way from Quezon City.  It was a Saturday night, did I mention how horrendous the traffic was? I’m not sure how long the festival would be, but if I have to base it on the music gigs that I’d been in the past, 11pm is young. The best bands tend to perform in the latter part of the show.

We took a bus at Buendia and traveled for over 3 hours to San Pablo, Laguna. The traffic was a thing of nightmares. My friend, Lou, asked me if it was safe to ride on the bus. I turned my gaze to her and saw the worried look on her face.

“It’s your first time to ride a bus?!” I asked in disbelief.

She nodded in confirmation.

Lou comes from a well-off family and she looks the part, but she is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I assured her that it’s safe; her paranoia is perfectly understandable. Incidentally, it was also her first camping trip. In my mind,  I hoped I was being a good influence.

All in all, there were 6 of us. We met our 7th member at San Pablo. From there we hired a jeep. Bangkong Kahoy Valley can be found in Dolores, Quezon, about an hour away from San Pablo. As the name implies, it is a low area between the hills. Given how late it was, some jeepney drivers weren’t inclined to take the journey, but we managed to find one who was willing. We had to pay PHP 1,500 (USD 32.34); that’s about 214 pesos per head. I personally believe that it is overpriced, but we didn’t have much of a choice.

The driver, for some reason, took the wrong route because he didn’t know he was supposed to take us exactly to Bangkong Kahoy; apparently, he thought he was taking us somewhere in Dolores. That’s about 30 minutes wasted and he even had the audacity to ask us for more money when we finally reached the destination. I told him that that’s all the money we had and we agreed on 1,500 pesos (USD 30.14) so that’s all he would get. It was his fault we got lost anyway so why should we give him additional payment?

We had to cover the rest of the way on foot because the jeep could no longer fit itself on the narrow path. In the city, when it’s dark, it’s really dark, but in the province, the moon is enough to illuminate the surrounding. My friends were impressed, even Cathy who was born and raised in Pangasinan. I remember having the same sense of awe the first time I experienced it in Romblon years ago.

We heard the music and we were drawn to it like a moth to a fire. It’s been a long time since I watched a gig so I was dying in anticipation. If there was one beautiful thing that an old flame brought into my life, it’s the Filipino indie music. And once I discovered them I was hooked. These artists veer away from the mainstream. They write and produce their own music and play them in obscure bars. Their music is poignant, unconstrained, and rebellious and they speak to me. I was naturally excited.

Do you know those times when you can literally feel the vibe flows through you the moment you step into a room? That’s what I experienced when we entered Bangkong Kahoy. Even my friends were in high spirit, completely taken by the ambiance. I previously attended another music festival in Puerto Galera, the Malasimbo Lights and Dance Festival where most people are noticeably young and wealthy. The Banahaw Tugtugan crowd is more simple and artistic; just my kind of people, I thought to myself.

After we paid our PHP 350 (USD 7.55) entrance fee, we had our super late dinner in the in-house cafe. Next point of business was pitching our tents, Cathy’s new friend, a towering British guy named, James, helped us with the task.

Once we’re settled, we laid out our mat on the damp grass in front of the stage where the bands were playing.

We watched Talahib perform, an ethnic folk band with 9 members (yes, that many) and I was in a trance. They were dressed in clothing with ethnic elements and patterns, some members played traditional musical instruments like gangsa, djembe, and kubing, and the female vocalist has long wavy hair, which swayed ever so gently as she danced gracefully on the stage.

The sad thing is, I was exhausted and cold. It was in the middle of summer but Bangkong Kahoy seemed to be in a different place. It was as cold as Baguio in January. I retired to my tent ahead of my friends, the music lulled me into sleep.

The next day, we were up early and the beauty that was obscured at night greeted us in the morning light. We were enthralled.

We had our breakfast and soon after, took a walk to fully appreciate the place.

Pipay had been there before so she became our instant tour guide. We passed by a garden that grows raspberry. Nobody forbade us to pick some of them so that’s what we did. Pipay advised to pick those that are big and very red because those are the sweet ones, she was right.

The land that Bangkong Kahoy owns is huge and expansive, covered with plants and trees. We continued our way to a dirt road that led to this off-beaten path where we found an unfinished building that looks like a gazebo. We entered and there we spent almost two hours talking, taking pictures, and pretty much enjoying the beautiful view. It was one of my favorite moments at Bangkong Kahoy. The place offers a beautiful view of Mt. Banahaw and it could have been more had they finished its construction. On why they stopped building, I will never know, but even in its incomplete state, it was beautiful.

We returned to the cafe for lunch. Bangkong Kahoy offers mushroom burger and raspberry shake, both are made from the ingredients that they grow themselves. I was skeptical about buying the raspberry shake, I don’t really like sour drinks. But my friends were so impressed by it I just had to try it. And it was delicious! The sour taste I was dreading was minimal, it was sweet but not too much. It tastes more milky than anything else.

Leaving such a beautiful place is bittersweet and I think my friends and I shared the same feeling. We left Bangkong Kahoy sometime in the afternoon and had to walk the dirt path for over 20 minutes to ride a tricycle.

Next year I have two things to go back to, Banahaw Tugtugan and Bangkong Kahoy. If you too like great music set up in a lovely place, you might want to go there too.

 

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36 Comments

  • Reply
    Vyjay
    November 19, 2016 at 3:54 PM

    I can see that the ambience and the atmosphere of the place is rocking. This seems to be a great musical festival. Also the entire setting is enthralling.

  • Reply
    Christina
    November 5, 2016 at 5:09 PM

    What a great experience. I have never been to a musical festival where I also camped at the same time. The venue looked perfect for this sort of event. I can definitely see why you would go back next year.

  • Reply
    Carmen's Luxury Travel
    July 6, 2016 at 7:46 AM

    Yes, please! I’d love to visit. Thanks for posting and happy travels 🙂

  • Reply
    Samantha
    July 5, 2016 at 3:03 PM

    Sounds like a great night! I love music festivals..they’re my fave! So many artists at one spot 🙂

  • Reply
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
    July 5, 2016 at 3:01 AM

    What a fun outing! Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Tom
    July 4, 2016 at 9:52 PM

    This looks like a great place, I must have missed it when I visited the Philippines!

  • Reply
    elisa
    July 4, 2016 at 7:57 PM

    Too many cool activities for a single place! It must have been great.

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    July 4, 2016 at 12:05 AM

    What an adventure getting to the festival. But sounds like it was worth it. And what scenery the next morning. Beautiful!

  • Reply
    Jem
    July 3, 2016 at 7:13 PM

    Hi Marge, I wish I could join you next time. I worked and lived in Lucban in 1999 but the travel bug had not bitten me so I didn’t get to explore the province that much. I’d really love to go back there with fellow travel bloggers.

  • Reply
    Vicki Louise
    July 3, 2016 at 10:57 AM

    Sounds like a pretty epic trip – and worth it after the travel to get there! Camping, music and fun – sounds like the perfect trip!

  • Reply
    Tom
    July 3, 2016 at 2:54 AM

    When there are so many blogs today just posting the “best 7 things to do in ___ city”, I’m very happy to read more personal stories of travel, with charactes, thoughts, and purpose. Cheers, then.

  • Reply
    Nicole P
    July 1, 2016 at 10:10 AM

    I wish to come here sometime soon as well and pitch a tent with my kids and husband hahaha! Looks like an awesome place to unwind and get relief from the metro’s stress of traffic hehe.. Maybe we’ll see each other there next year? 🙂

  • Reply
    Denice
    June 27, 2016 at 2:48 PM

    This looks so fun! Sayang maybe when Bunny is a bit older we can leave her with her wawa and wowo for a night or two so we can sneak out to attend a music festival.

  • Reply
    Trisha Velarmino
    June 27, 2016 at 7:13 AM

    Why wasn’t I invited here?!

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 9:09 AM

      Because this happened in April haha…

  • Reply
    Leona
    June 27, 2016 at 2:23 AM

    this look amazingly fun! i love the outdoors, camping, music, trekking, all of which you did. great experience it must be. i just need to find a place to do that that is not crazy hot like here is.

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:45 AM

      Oh yes, those things you mentioned, they all make for a great adventure. 🙂

  • Reply
    Klaudia
    June 26, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    This really looks like a beutiful place ! I can literally feel the vibes you are talking about , I have been to some simlar open air concerts , it is a great experience you won’t forget . What a pity that it was a cold night , you would have enjoyed a lot more if the weather would have been nicer. Can’t beat a ‘hot’ summer night’s festival . Lovely post , your photos are brilliant ( as always 🙂 )

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 3:25 AM

      The cold is unbelievable! Thanks Klaudia. 🙂

  • Reply
    Stella the Travelerette
    June 25, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    That looks like so much fun! I’ve never been to a music festival, but I hope to go someday. Although I can’t believe your friend had never been on a bus! Your photos of the valley look very peaceful. I especially like the image of the strawberry!

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 3:25 AM

      Hi Stella, thanks so much. But it’s not a strawberry, it’s raspberry. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 25, 2016 at 1:05 PM

    It was quite stressful in the beginning as you head in the event but great that it ended as a wonderful experience of music and nature. 🙂

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:43 AM

      I agree 🙂

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    June 25, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    Wow, the scenery alone at that place is amazing. It sounds and looks like a fun event. I love the camping aspect of it. That’s crazy that your driver got you lost then demanded more money after his mistake. Stressful. Glad you guys made it and had a great time.

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:41 AM

      Yes! Good thing I got the mind not to give in to his wishes.

  • Reply
    Rowena Conde
    June 25, 2016 at 6:23 AM

    Haven’t been on this place and this is the first time I heard of it. The place feels your one with the nature and based on your description the raspberry drink is delicious, hope I can try it soon as well.

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:40 AM

      That’s it exactly, when you go there you would feel like you are one with the nature. 🙂

  • Reply
    Berlin
    June 25, 2016 at 1:59 AM

    First time I heard about the place and I would want to try it to with my family. My boys are good with long walks and appreciate any kind of music. Surely they would love to try this. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:37 AM

      I spot a few kids around so yeah, maybe your kids would love it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sriparna
    June 25, 2016 at 1:40 AM

    Re-writing for the spelling mistakes:
    Wow! I have never gone camping… but now I’m going to find out some place that offers great music and night camping… your experience was shared in so much details, I feel I was part of it too… great read!

  • Reply
    cathy
    June 24, 2016 at 2:25 AM

    Oh I so miss the place Marge! I think it’s the first time in my life that I got to appreciate the reggae kinda music. haha and sleeping in a tent like what I’ve mentioned, so cool! I want to do it more often, kahit sa harap na lang ng bahay namin. Malawak naman dun! haha
    I enjoyed this trip with you, second time we’re on a music fest together. I wonder where’s next? Xx

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:35 AM

      Well we’re going back there next year that’s for sure. 🙂

  • Reply
    Krista Bjorn
    June 23, 2016 at 4:26 PM

    What a fun and fantastic experience!! You must really love this place if you were willing to go through so much travel to get there. Wonderful! 🙂

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:34 AM

      It was worth the long trip. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kat
    June 23, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    Planned to come here sana after seeing the event that you made but was too tired. Maybe next time I’ll be able to attend Banahaw Tugtugan. 🙂

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      June 27, 2016 at 4:33 AM

      Aww… You missed a real great event. Hope to see you there next year!

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