Events Philippines Travel

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 at the venue of 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 and 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.

Booking.com

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 surroundings. 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 flame. 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 at 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 as 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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Comments (36)

  1. Vyjay
    Vyjay

    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
  2. Christina
    Christina

    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
  3. Samantha
    Samantha

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

    Reply
  4. Tom
    Tom

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

    Reply
  5. elisa
    elisa

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

    Reply
  6. Rebecca
    Rebecca

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

    Reply
  7. Jem
    Jem

    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
  8. Vicki Louise
    Vicki Louise

    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
  9. Tom
    Tom

    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
  10. Nicole P
    Nicole P

    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
  11. Denice
    Denice

    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
  12. Leona
    Leona

    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
      Marjorie Gavan

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

      Reply
  13. Klaudia
    Klaudia

    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
  14. Stella the Travelerette
    Stella the Travelerette

    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
      Marjorie Gavan

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

      Reply
  15. Jessica
    Jessica

    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
  16. Megan Indoe
    Megan Indoe

    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
      Marjorie Gavan

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

      Reply
  17. Rowena Conde
    Rowena Conde

    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
      Marjorie Gavan

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

      Reply
  18. Berlin
    Berlin

    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
      Marjorie Gavan

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

      Reply
  19. Sriparna
    Sriparna

    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
  20. cathy
    cathy

    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
      Marjorie Gavan

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

      Reply
  21. Krista Bjorn
    Krista Bjorn

    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
  22. Kat
    Kat

    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
      Marjorie Gavan

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

      Reply

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