Manabo: Exploring the Quaint Town in Abra
We have been visiting Abra several times before, but our trip to the province is not complete without reaching the town of Manabo, because of Raquel, one of the Tupang Gala, came from here (and proud Itneg). The town is located in the southern part of Abra and you have to travel more than 40 kilometers through the mountain ranges. Most of the residents here are the Ammutan of the Itneg tribe (Tingguan People) so the culture and tradition are very lively here.
It is fortunate that the Sto. Tomas Bridge is already completed, so the trip to the town is much easier. Before, taking a balsa or barge is required to cross the river, and during bad weather crossing the river is impossible. Now crossing the river is much more convenient because of the bridge’s completion (after 27 years and PhP423 million spent by the government). With the length of 690 meters, it connects the municipalities in southeastern Abra, including the town of Manabo.
We miss crossing by barge because this is one of the most exciting parts of our trip to Manabo. The fare costs PhP50 per barge, including its passengers. The barge is available only up to 7 pm because after this time water levels start to rise. But if you need to go back to the Kapitolyo, you can request to wait for you. While the trip lasts five minutes, waiting for the barge to fill up takes much longer. Within two decades, assisting motorists in crossing the river has been their source of living.
We reached the town after an hour of journey. Raquel showed us our next destination – the Irrigation Tunnel Picnic Grove. We took a tricycle and went through the rough roads in the hilly part of the town. It is the first time we will be going here so we are very excited. After fifteen minute trip we reached the site, unfortunately, it’s closed. Nevertheless, the driver told us we can enter, though we must be careful especially during swimming.
According to the locals, the site was built by the German missionaries to provide irrigation to the fields. (They also built some other structures in the town.) It is no surprise why the rice fields here are abundant. It is only here that the “Waray Rice” which is a high quality glutinous rice variety can be found. They made a tunnel through the mountain to provide a water way (which comes from one of the tributaries in Abra River). From the tunnel, the waterways were split into two to distribute the irrigation flow. A large pool was also constructed through the water way for bathing. The water is cool and is right for the place’s hot climate. The waters in some part of the pool are stagnant so it is a little bit unclean. We briefly wallowed in the water and afterwards we went back to the town to rest. We were told that there are several caves there that are being frequented by tourists, however we were unable to visit them because of lack of time. Perhaps on the next days (just not during the election season!)