Day 6: A Change of Plans, Balbalan

  • Feb
  • 18

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Notes by producer Francisco Guerrero

Day 6 Anong kabalbalan ito?

We woke up with the sad news that Thumbie and Ruel had to leave. They had urgent business back in Manila. So our team was reduced, it was just now JP and Harry with us as well as Bless (Harry’s wife). It was sad to see them go because they were really fun to be with.


Day 6: Sagada to Balbalan.

Sagada was the big drive. We were concerned about Sagada to Balbalasang, the national park up North. We had estimated a six-hour drive so we ended up leaving Sagada at about 9:30, through probably the most amazing bit of road we’ve had in the whole trip. Spectacular. We passed by Tinglayan which is the road where Fang-Od lives. JP, as part of his National Geographic study, actually lived in one of the villages near Fang-Od for three or four months. I remember he came on the radio and said, “guys, through these villages, if a pig or a chicken or a dog crosses, you break. And if you kill the chicken, or the dog, or the pig, we will be in trouble.” We never fully got an explanation why, but he just said, “don’t kill anything on the road.”

That was a great day of driving. And because we kept on stopping and filming – we stopped for coffee, we bought some weaving from one of the villages – we weren’t going to make it to Balbalasang National Park. It was getting dark by 5, so we stopped at Balbalan, an hour and a half before our target location. Again, JP saved us. He knew of a government-run mountain lodge there. And again, Nayna did her magic. She served us pork and couscous.

When we missed our target and had to sleep in Balbalan, it really changed the rest of the trip. We figured out that because of the road conditions there was no way we were going to make it to Laoag. During the past two days it was raining quite heavily so the roads were really dark. That was the night we decided we could only make it to Vigan.

Shots From The Field


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The GRID Expedition I: SEA TO SUMMIT is a 9 day series of our team blazing a trail through northern Luzon, lead by Jp Alipio and his team of adventurers, mountain runners and conservation advocates.

Check back daily for updates to our online digital series featuring an upcoming short film by Carmen del Prado, photography by Miguel Nacianceno and Carmen del Prado, insightful words and notes by Nayna Katigbak and produced by Francisco Guerrero. Follow our adventure!