Town seeks ‘weather protection’ for mummies
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—A village in the vegetable town of Buguias has asked for funds to improve a flood-control program that will prevent creeks cascading down Benguet mountains from crossing into a natural mountain cave where celebrated mummy Apo Anno is interred.
Stronger rains may lead overflowing mountain waterways right to the mouth of the cave, said Camotiao Alinso Jr., head of Barangay Natubleng.
Apo Anno was a Kankanaey hunter who was credited as a demigod. His father was Tugtugaka, a chieftain and hunter of Nabalicong (now a sitio in Buguias town), and the forest goddess Cuyapon, a guardian of forest animals. His mummified remains were stolen in 1918 but were returned to Natubleng in 1999.
Alinso said Apo Anno’s return brought back bountiful harvest and progress to their village. “When Apo Anno was stolen, strong rains and typhoons brought disaster to our community. But all these ended when he was returned,” he said.
Using a P500,000 allotment from the Benguet provincial government, the village last year built a 45-meter long dike in a waterway above the Apo Anno cave where the Pakpakitan and Natubleng creeks converge, Alinso said.
But he said strong rain might require them to build a 600-meter long dike after they observed that Benguet has been struck by much stronger rains and typhoons.
“We fear that the creeks will overflow and cause landslides or flooding, and wash away Apo Anno’s burial site,” he said. “We really have to preserve Apo Anno and his burial site. But we have to help each other out.”
He said the Natubleng village council had drawn up a development plan for the Apo Anno burial site to ensure its protection and preservation, which includes provisions against stronger storms.
He said the burial site also needed to be fenced off against pasture animals and trekkers who may try to visit the cave on their own without seeking the community’s permission.
“The fence will protect Apo Anno from people. We believe that our ancestors do not want to be disturbed in their resting place,” he said.
Part of the cave’s protection plan is to process the titling of the 5,000-square-meter property where the mountain cave is located, he said.
He said the preservation of the forest reservation was also part of the village’s development plan.
Natubleng will not build a road leading to the cave, Alinso said, to help control the number of visitors going to the mummy site. Only a rough pathway is available for people who want to pay their respects to Apo Anno.
“Tourists are still welcome to visit Apo Anno but they must pass through the village office so that they will be briefed on the rules and regulations in visiting the burial site based on our customs and traditions,” he said.
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