See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskoGABid
Our hostel or the only place to stay in Kabayan organized a tour of the caves and mummies for us. Ryan, our tour guide, met us at 8:00am just as we were finishing breakfast. He lived across the street and had been giving tours for several years. He was very knowledgeable of the history and culture associated with the surrounding area.
Ranah, Franki, and I opted for the tour with a car so that the hikes would only take two hours instead of 3-4 hours. So Mario, our driver, took us to several locations in an old Toyota SUV throughout the day.
The first site, Mt. Pungasan, took about an hour to hike to and on the way we picked up the key to the crypt from the caretakers next to the trailhead. The forest was surprisingly made up of pine trees! It felt like home hiking in the mountains. Ryan unlocked the gate of the cave and carefully opened the two wooden coffins. He mentioned that many anthropologists and even National Geographic had come to the site. The two mummies were in good condition and still had parts of their internal organs still intact. One was in a fetal position while the other in a sitting position. Ryan articulated several stories about people being possessed by the spirits of the mummies which were really interesting. In one case, a person was hiking in a group of 10 on the mountain had been possessed by the spirits. The individual though he had been walking with his group but had been alone for 7 days lost. When he was found he said that he had survived off of pineapples and fruit however, none of those grew in the forest.
Tinungshol Burial Rock was the next site we visited. It is located by a raging river shouldered by gigantic ferns that looked like they were from the Jurassic period. The man-made caves were in one large limestone rock with several entrances on either side that connected in the middle. The Ibaloi people built fires underneath the rock to heat up ginger and then poured it onto the limestone to create the cave openings. In total, 5 openings were made about 10 feet of the ground. No one knows exactly how many mummies are inside because every time one is removed something terrible happens. About 25 years ago, one was removed and it rained for two months straight until it was returned to the site.
Next we visited the National Museum to learn more about the culture and heritage of Kabayan. It was located in a small house.
After lunch, we went to a third crypt on someone’s private property. Originally, there had been 1000s of bodies. However, now the site only contains the remains of a few hundred as the site has been raided several times. These bones date from 500-1000 years old according to the Japanese.
In total, the guide costed 800 P and the driver costed 600P which was extremely cheap! In the evening, we met Kevin again and became friends with a German doctor named Wiebke or B.B. for short who joined us for cards.