The next day, we prepared to set off to Brgy. Eheb, where roads are being constructed, in the hopes of hiking its most notable peak, Mt. Mangingihi.
Below is an early morning view from Tinoc, with Luzon's highest peak, Mt. Pulag, in the horizon.
Some sections of the road were so bad- as I said above, stretches were still being constructed at that time- that on one occasion the van got mired in deep mud. Fortunately some motorists passed by and helped us get the van rolling again.
A view of the surrounding mountains:
Gunnera macrophylla (Family Gunneraceae) is commonly encountered on banks and road cuts.
Aster philippinensis (Family Asteraceae):
Verbena officinalis (Family Lamiaceae), a widespread weed from Europe that has naturalized in the Philippines. Pieter Pelser kindly provided me with the name of this and the previous plant.
A splendid fruiting plant of Medinilla cordata (Family Melastomataceae).
To pave the way for the construction of the roads, many trees were cut and/or uprooted and buried from bulldozed soils. Along with them are countless epiphytes, mostly ferns and orchids. A species of Oberonia (Family Orchidaceae) flowers high on a tree that has been spared by the bulldozers' wrath:
Mt. Mangingihi in Brgy. Eheb. We tried, in vain, to find a trail going up the mountain, whose summit is tantalizingly close from where we were. We weren't able to find a guide to take us to the mountain on the day we went there. We actually attempted to find and cut a trail, but the forest inside was so dense. Being the only person with mountaineering experience, I agreed on my companions' decision to abort the enterprise.
From the roadsides, the extent of clearing for agriculture is gruesomely apparent:
Our next stop is a cave situated above a sizable agricultural land, and we took a paved road to get there. Despite the altitude, heat was quite unbearable.
A species of Agalmyla (Family Gesneriaceae). This genus consists of climbing epiphytes that root at the substrates upon contact, and bear often brightly-colored blooms.
A subtly attractive Jewel Orchid. Due to lack of flowers, identification is futile.
Sarcopyramis napalensis (Family Melastomataceae) is a small creeping plant with disproportionately large flowers. Thanks to Pieter Pelser for providing me the name of this attractive little plant.
Plant below is probably a form of the widespread Melastoma malabathricum (Family Melastomataceae):
The flowers of Vaccinium indutum (Family Ericaceae) are like glowing lanterns. Derek Cabactulan provided me the identification of this pretty species.
Pendent berries of a Medinilla (Family Melastomataceae):
Rhomboda cristata is a member of the so-called Jewel Orchids. Black-leaved individuals are also known.
Alpinia paradoxa (Family Zingiberaceae), a tall and lanky species of ginger with very showy bracts. Duke Rudolph identified this species for me.
Arisaema polyphyllum (Family Araceae), a common, widespread, and variable species, but found only at higher elevations.
Regrettably, we failed to advance to the said cave, as our guide, who was proceeding ahead of us, inadvertently disturbed a hive of bees which swarmed and attacked with single-minded ferocity. I myself was stung on the hand, with a sharp and rapidly ascending pain that mostly vanished after about 20 minutes, although a weak, throbbing pain lingered for a number of days afterwards. We retreated, but waited for quite some time for the guide to return, who obviously had to stay still lest he wanted a mob attack from the furious bees. He received several bee stings, but otherwise unharmed and still in good spirits.
At the fringes and on the newly hacked forest grew these Crepidium (?) species (Family Orchidaceae). Many of these plants were already dead or dying and all grew epiphytically.
This curculionid beetle is probably from the genus Metapocyrtus:
A Huperzia (Family Lycopodiaceae) from the Huperzia phlegmaria complex, as suggested by Julie Barcelona.
Inside our guides makeshift hut is this spider with greenish-silvery abdomen:
This is one of the few orchids our guide cultivates within his farm, Dendrobium sanderae.
Behind his hut is this Medinilla growing on a tree:
Menzie, looking absolutely exhausted from all the hiking....
Despite the difference in coloration, these two beetles are from the same species, which I do not yet know at the time of writing.
A small portion of our guide's vegetable patch. The remaining forests behind may only be a memory in a very short time:
From where we were, the extent of deforestation can be clearly seen:
We had some rest upon our return and did not have to wander for some wildlife, as moths were quite in abundance. Here are some notable ones:
The following day, we were given an opportunity to taste some rice wine, called 'tapey'. This jar contains 'tapey' which undergoes not the process of distillation, but fermentation. The roots of a common weed called 'onuad' is used in its preparation. When I was shown the plant, I identified it as the very common and widespread Bidens pilosus (Family Asteraceae), of tropical and subtropical distribution. I find the name 'onuad' interesting because in the nearby province of Nueva Vizcaya, a similar name appears and is applied on a totally different plant Flagellaria indica (Family Flagellariaceae), as 'uenag ayang anuad', which is known for its medicinal properties
Inside the storage room with the jar is this very old colony of bees, the size of which is said to have declined in recent years:
On our way back to Nueva Vizcaya, I spotted several orchids growing on road sides, but most were too high up on the trees to be photographed, or otherwise sterile. Pinalia ovata is a common species, and were in bloom at that time.
A tree festooned with ant plants from the genus Myrmecodia (Family Rubiaceae).
Saurauia elegans (Family Actinidiaceae) is a very attractive treelet that is quite widespread in higher elevations in the Philippines.
Mumbungob Falls. The native epithet is translated to 'noisy', an allusion to the din the cataract produces as water falls down below.
Back in Kiangan, we stopped over for lunch, and saw this notice on a store wall:
Tobacco and Piper betle leaves are openly sold, however.
Irony of ironies, a young man was dozing off on the road just across the store where the notification was posted, absolutely wasted from too much alcohol. Then again, one can argue that he's no minor anymore. Anyway...
Despite the rapid environmental changes happening to Tinoc, which is currently experiencing a boom in vegetable production, zoning of areas to be left undisturbed for vegetable cultivation is being discussed, under the auspices of Cong. Baguilat. One only hopes that action and implementation be undertaken at the soonest time possible to preserve Tinoc's real wealth.