The night before I visited the province of Kalinga, I was watching a documentary about the production of civet coffee in Indonesia.
Known as the most expensive coffee in the world, this exotic coffee, called locally in Indonesia as Kopi Luwa, is nothing like your ordinary brew. It is produced in the forests of Java where civet cats are fed with coffee berries. These coffee beans are not digested by the civet cats and are excreted. These civet "poops" are then processed to become one of the most aromatic and tasteful brews in the world.
There inside my small hotel room in Tugegarao, I fancied on having my own cup of civet coffee. I made a few research about the local production of civet coffee in the Philippines. I was elated to know that an hour away from where I was at, a civet coffee is being produced.
The following morning, I took the earliest van going to Tabuk City, the capital of Kalinga. As the van sped off the scenic and well-paved road connecting the province of Cagayan to the landlocked province of Kalinga, I couldn't help but think of my morning coffee -- a civet coffee.
The road going to Tabuk offers a nice view of rolling mountains that resemble those I've seen in Batanes. Although the van was cramped with regular workers, leaving me to squeeze into a tiny space inside the van to survive the one-hour trip, I didn't mind because the view outside was such a welcoming sight.
|Rolling and sloppy hills covered in grassland are a common sight going to Tabuk City. Photo courtesy of Noks Sosa of Tripapips.com|
It was chilly when I arrived in Tabuk. Instead of heading straight for breakfast, I decided to first explore the city as it waked up to another new day.
I asked a trike driver to take me to the capitol building. It was early Monday morning and there were still a few people out to work. But since the building is situated on an elevated spot, I spent some time enjoying the nice overlooking view of the city proper.
|The capitol building|
|Rivers, like the famous Chico River, run through the province of Kalinga|
I was on a solo trip, and some of the people I talked to in the capitol were concerned about me going to neiboring towns, which are the more popular tourist destinations like Tinglayan. I was told about the warrior culture still existing in some parts of the mountainous province and I should visit the other villages with companions, like the one in Buscalan where the famous traditional tatoo artist Wong-od is at. Though they assured me that I'm safe to explore the city proper alone.
|In many villages in Kalinga or in the Cordillera Region, the local people are still living in traditional huts|
I walked around the city and there were nothing much to do but observe the ebb of school children as they make their way to school, or some people taking the jeepney enroute to other municipalities.
|St. William's Cathedral|
After a short walk, I went to Davidson Hotel for breakfast. Much to my delight, I easily spotted the Kalinga civet coffee offered in the menu for only P80. I thought it was going to cost me an arm and a leg to try it. As a self-confessed coffee addict, I must say that my first sip of this Kalinga-produced civet coffee was smooth and delightful.
|The best way to start a good morning is a cup of civet/musang coffee, produced by the local farmers in the mountains of Kalinga. It is said to be one of the most expensive varieties of coffee, made from civet poop. I got mine for P80.|
The local villagers of Kalinga have vast coffee plantations and are known for their love for brewed coffee. Sipping a locally produced coffee blend is like a morning ritual to many people there. They have the view, the quiet morning, the coffee, and the cold weather -- the kind of morning that most people in the urban areas could only dream of.
Lately though, the products like Kalinga Blend and Kalinga Brew are already finding its way in some third-wave coffee shops in Manila. I'll not be surprised if the precious Kalinga civet coffee is already here, too.