Leech Mountains of Chinawat in Lias, Barlig

With its encompassing domains, Lias never runs out of beauty to choose from. From cascading waterfalls to high-rise peaks , Lias could truly bring one closer to the folds of nature and the Divine Creator.

Lias is a tribal community located in the eastern part of Mountain Province It is part of the municipality of Barlig.

One particular site in Lias thriving with natural wonders is sitio Chinawat. It is a triangular-shaped hamlet occupying the area along the face of Mt. Lamacan facing Sadanga.

Wonders of Chinawat

Surrounded with three of the highest peaks of Lias, Chinawat is drained by several creeks that serve as tributaries of the mighty Chinawat brook. These are thriving spots for numerous waterfalls.

One of the waterfalls that is usually frequented by some locals and hunters is a 30-meter wonder. A free-leaping waterfall, it descends to a naturally-built pool with its greenish waters mirroring the surrounding vegetation. It takes more than 5 hours from the community of Lias to get here. There are no established and permanent paths, except that one would have to use hunter’s trails to glimpse of its beauty. Along the way, one might be able to see deer’s tracks and diggings .

But one would also have to endure the denseness of the forest as there are dangling vines and plants with razor-sharp leaf blades and thorns. Leeches also abound especially during morning and wet season. Climbing along steep precipices and jumping across boulders are also added challenges one would have to hurdle with.

The difficulty in getting to this waterfall, however, is turned into elation as one gazes on its beauty and indulge on a refreshing bath.

Further down this waterfall is another cascade that is much higher but remains practically inaccesible. There is no safe route going down for those who are not used to jungle trek. But on top, one could see the multi-layered view of the waterfall.

According to local hunters, there is a very high waterfall adjacent to Chinawat named as Faat falls which is said to be hundreds of meters high. Its water source are Mt. Lamacan, Mt. Ludwag and Mt. Apengao. Even from afar, one would be able to see its drizzle-like waters cascading on a sinkhole especially just after the rainy season. However, its only hunters who are able to witness its wonder.

Apart from endearing falls, there is also a small cave at Chinawat which is said to be an abode of either a maraca (dragon) or pap-arantak (a flying creature resembling a snake). One hunter who got to the cave saw bones of deer, and other animals. Other hunters say that they would feel dizzy whenever they get near the cave even their dogs, thus, it is a dreaded site. However, it can be partially viewed from afar on a mountain ridge. This ridge before getting to Chinawat also offers spectacular and breathtaking view of Sadanga and the verdant mountains of Lias.

The jungles and forests of Chinawat have long been a hunting ground not only of the I-Lias but also hunters from neighboring tribes. This is due to the abundance of ugsa(deer), and namorok (wild pig). Other wildlife species such as birds and monkeys also abound.

However,modern ways of hunting such as the use of  guns led to the rapidly declining population of these wildlife species especially ugsa and namorok. According to Fangkot Masadao, a local hunter, another major reason behind such decline is the use of silo (rope trap) which are prevalent in throughout Chinawat. There is then the need to ban or at least minimize such practice. Overall, the minimization of hunting should be put into materialization should the natural wealth of Chinawat be preserved and sustained. In addition, the “Close and Open Hunting Season” strategy should be enforced.

Eco-tourism is also one measure of conserving Chinawat. Given its potential for such industry, it can be an alternative to imbue in exchange of hunting as a source of income. For that, there has to be established trekking routes or viewing points including necessary amenities that would cater to the needs of tourists or travellers.

Indeed, so much that we revere and admire the natural gifts bestowed to us by the Creator, we should also consider sustaining these for the future. There is no point promoting these spots if in the end, the coming generations are left with nothing but testaments of our negligence and mismanagement of our inherited environment. Chinawat is truly a beauty we admire, and so, we should protect and preserve!

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Getting to Know More about Lias

Lias a tribal community occupying the northern portion of the municipality of Barlig in Mountain Province. With an ancestral domain covering more than 14, 000 hectares, its the largest in terms of land area in the said municipality. More than 80% of these are covered in mossy, pine, and dipterocarp forests which are home to a wide array of wildlife species such as monkeys, deer, monitor lizards, and the critically-endangered Philippine Monkey-Eating Eagle.

Lias compose of two barangays namely Lias Silangan and Lias Kanluran with a combined population of more or less a thousand. They are officially identified as Balangao Tribe, however, they prefer to be called Lias Tribe because of their distinct culture and historical roots.

Getting to Lias:

Bontoc to Lias>>> Departure from Bontoc going to Lias is 2:00 pm. The jeepney heading to Lias is stationed along the All Saints Cathedral.

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