The Dumagat tribe is an indigenous group in Luzon. With physical features similar to the Aetas, they trace their origins from the Negritos, one of the first inhabitants in the Philippines.
Early Dumagats tend to move from one place to another in search for a better land to live. But due to modernization, their semi-nomadic nature has almost been gone. Consequently, they were pushed further into the mountains and remote places. Today, they were dispersed into different parts of Luzon.
There are a few Dumagat community settled in the highlands of Rizal Province. Living on the far countryside, majority of the them still live way behind the present day lifestyle. Many still don’t have access to electricity, medicines and even good educational system.
Our bicycle team, headed by Sir Allan and Dra. Faye Cagayan, in spirit of early Christmas planned to make a little more meaning to our usual weekend ride. This time, our destination was the the remote barangay of Sta. Ines in Tanay, Rizal where an unspoiled beauty called Kinabuan Falls can be found. Incidentally, this high forest in Rizal is also home to a small community of Dumagats.
Team Bisikleteros organized a simple gift giving ride to these humble locals.
Since we had a lot of things to carry, we skipped the long Marcos highway and started in Brgy. San Andres, Tanay, the entry point going to Brgy. Sta. Ines and Kinabuan Falls. From there we still had to bike around 25 kilometes including more than twenty river crossings and tough rocky terrain.
Take note that the ride data below is just one way.
Total Distance : 25.5 kms*
Max Elevation : 473 m
Elevation Gain : 436 m
MovingTime : 4:23:52
*Marcos Highway to Sta. Ines (one way)
**map and data by Strava
Sta. Ines (Dumagat Community) Sights and Scenes
Our team gathered early morning at the Cagayan Residence in Quezon City to pack some used clothes and other giveaways. With each of us carrying an average of 6 kilograms on our back, we knew we’re in for a challenging day. We rode out at around 6 am and took the Marcos Highway route going east.
We had a few stops to buy some more gifts for the Dumagat kids until we reached Sitio Boso Boso in Antipolo where we had a quick breakfast.To save time and energy, we hired a jeepney that took us to Brgy. San Andres, skipping the remaining 18 kilometers off Marcos Highway.
The Dumagat community of Sta. Ines lives twenty five kilometers away from the main road, in the mountains of Sierra Madre. Reaching them by regular motorized vehicle is next to impossible because of the very tough terrain and multiple river crossings. There are a few heavy duty jeepneys that has trips to the first few barangays of this area but they have very limited schedules.
The terrain to Sta. Ines reminded me a lot of our Laiban-Daraitan ride, long fire roads: segments of big boulders and tough river crossings. Progress was very slow because oftentimes we were either carrying or pushing our bikes.
As difficult as this route may be, the beautiful view of the Sierra Madre forest made things more bearable. The luscious green vegetation epitomizes what mountain biking is all about.
Reaching Sta Ines could take about 4 to 5 hours depending on your pace. Sari sari stores are very limited, so for anyone who wants to try this destination, make sure to bring enough supplies. Cellular coverage is also zero so bringing a complete repair kit and first aid is highly advised.
We reached the Dumagat neighborhood a little past 1 pm. While some of them were on the mountains to get some harvest, many were on their wooden houses busy with their everyday activities.
We prepared our gifts and handed them to each Dumagat family we ran into. Minute after minute, our bags were getting lighter but the relief on our back was nothing compared to the joy of being able to share some smiles with these simple-living community.
The Dumagats were indeed happy to receive the clothes and toys from us. But given the lack of access to health care, we realized that medicines for colds, headaches, body pains and other normal illnesses are what they needed more. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring enough.for everyone.
Chatting with the Dumagats was very humbling. We were just blessed to hear their stories.
Before we could finally say goodbye to the Dumagats, there’s one more stop we had to go. Amidst the forest of Sta. Ines is a treasure of the community, the Kinabuan Falls.
Only five to ten minutes away from the neighborhood by foot, perhaps this is one of the purest waterfalls in Rizal. Raw and unspoiled, Kinabuan falls is the pride of the Dumagats.
It was a long tiring day, and we knew we still had to muscle our way back home. But then, it was one of those rides where we didn’t mind the body pains we had the next day.
Sooner or later the clothes will eventually wear out. The toys, they will get broken. And the medicines, they will all run out. Though giving supplies is just a short term remedy, we hope that it becomes a reminder of a very basic purpose why we are here : to be a blessing to each other.
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