Having been able to visit Barangay Licungan in the municipality of Sugpon, Ilocos Sur is something to be proud of. Endurance and determination are needed though to get there. The narrow trail going up and down the high mountains is very steep. One needed to ride a bamboo raft (balsa) to cross the famous Amburayan river separating the provinces of La Union and Ilocos Sur.
On a sad note, it was reported that marijuana were planted in some areas of the barangay. So, Tanim Kalikasan committed to give coffee seedlings with the hope that this would become an alternative source of livelihood for the people. The organization together with some media people had the chance to hike to this far flung barangay to introduce coffee planting.
The people there are a true picture of hospitable Filipinos. Considering that the people there are not so fortunate economically, they still butchered a pig for our dinner and chicken for our breakfast. We really felt their warm welcome as they entertainedus. Being accommodated like this is more than a prize in exchange to the exhausting few hours of travel and long walk.
Our journey going there was really tough. We left the office about 4 o´clock in the morning and headed our way to the municipality of Sugpon only to learn later that the road going to the barangay is not passable. But the group was really determined to get there so we took another route. From Sugpon, we proceeded to the municipality of Santol, rode a jeepney for about two hours and then walked for almost five hours. During the first two hours of walking in a totally down hill path, our knees and leg muscles were shaking. We could not even take a short rest because the trail is so narrow that you would interrupt all those behind you if you stop. I could imagine how much sweat our bodies excreted. Some of us stumbled and slipped several times. After crossing the Amburayan river, we again hiked uphill. It was still very tiring but the breathtaking view eased our tiredness. It was not only the people there that a recommendable but the scenic and dramatic sight is equally captivating.
Now, as my mind raced back to this remarkable experience, I have realized that life is not unfair — and will never be. Although the people their live a very simple life, sometimes lacking necessities and far from any luxury, they are gifted with a completely pollution-free environment, available and fertile land to till, trees that makes the place cool and mountains that are delightfully picturesque. True enough, the place is very amazing but I hope in time, it will also progress and will be developed without sacrificing its natural beauty. And I wish the people there will constantly learn to get things done fairly no more marijuana but more to coffee!It should be like our journey, we first literally climb mountains and cross rivers before we could see and appreciate what is waiting for us on top.