TREK Kibungan: Love for Polis

August 31, 2010 Voluntourism

The journey to our outreach sites demands a great deal of strength and determination, but it's an integral part of our mission. Our group, known as TREK or TRails to Empower Kids, embarked on its 7th project, reaching out to Sitio Polis in Barangay Poblacion, Kibungan, Benguet.

Sitio Polis is home to the third-largest cultural community in the mountain provinces of Northern Luzon, the Kankanais. The schools, Sitio Polis Elementary School and Sitio Polis Day Care Center, serve five communities - Polis, Pakda, Ginawang, Liwan, and Dacdacan.

Some students trek as much as two hours to get to school, sometimes using makeshift bags made of sacks. With this reality in mind, we were determined to provide them with the donations gathered from friends, relatives, and even those who learned about the project through social networking sites.

The site was recommended to us by our friends Mimis and Ranger.

The Reconnaissance (Recon)

Although we hoped Mimis and Ranger could guide us during our recon, they already had an expedition planned that weekend on the same mountain range, taking a much longer route. They would enter from Nueva Vizcaya and exit at Kibungan, Benguet, an estimated three to four days of walking.

They couldn't remember the name of the village but provided directions on how to get there. We were instructed to follow the trail on the left side of Kibungan's municipal hall. We would walk for four hours and see a long hanging bridge. Fortunately, Charo, a mountain guide and current employee of the local government office, joined us.

The first two hours involved descending the mountains. After navigating what seemed like an endless staircase, we reached the long hanging bridge. From there, we took a short ascent, skirted the side of the opposite mountain, and reached another hanging bridge, albeit shorter. In total, we passed by four hanging bridges.

At 2:00 PM, rain began to pour, prompting us to regroup and rest in the next waiting shed. By this time, we had covered more than 3/4 of the trail.

We passed four hanging bridges

Stairs to and from Sitio Polis

We thought it was never ending.  It felt like it.

When the rain subsided a bit, I proceeded with Charo and reached the community by 3:00 PM. I was almost winded, and the rain provided a refreshing touch. The community members gathered in a hut beside the school, where the teachers live. A thermos was ready, and I was offered a drink. While I thought it was coffee, it turned out to be just hot water, but it warmed me enough.

Despite attempts to converse, there was a language barrier. From the few words they could understand from me and my wet clothes, they gathered part of my story. When the rest of the team arrived, we headed to one of the classrooms, where we would sleep that night, and changed into dry clothes. Dinner preparations began afterward.

We bought chilies at the store near the municipal hall. The store owner had warned us about these small, plump chilies that looked almost like bell peppers. Taking a bite of the chili, or "sapuke," felt like my head exploded, and my ears numbed.

After settling in, we invited the Alternative Learning Systems teacher, Cleran Dayso, for a discussion. After several attempts at pronouncing his name correctly, we decided to call him Claire. During the discussion, we discovered that some students trek as much as two hours to get to school, sometimes using makeshift bags made of sacks.

The school caters to five communities - Polis, Pakda, Ginawang, Liwan, and Dacdacan. Dacdacan, the farthest community, is a two-hour walk away. The school accommodates 60 students, while its daycare has 21 students.

Right then and there, we decided that Kibungan would be the next TREK project.

The Outreach

Months after our recon, we returned to Polis for the outreach.

We arrived at our jump-off point a bit behind schedule. Worries lingered about the usual 2:00 PM rainstorms in Barangay Poblacion, making our trek more challenging and risking damage to the donations.

However, our prayers for good weather were answered, and the sun shone until about 5:00 PM.

Members of the community helping us carry the donation

Volunteer Pao with some books

It was almost dark when the last members of our team arrived. After securing our sleeping sites and taking off our shoes, we began preparing for the next day's activities, not minding the body aches caused by the long walk.

The following day, we all woke up early, thanking God for another beautiful day of weather.

The school

We had books, backpacks filled with school supplies, educational toys, storybooks, raincoats, boots, and loot bags.

Some volunteers manned the kitchen, and the locals appreciated it so much that the meals we cooked were all served to them. During the program, I gave a short welcome remark, and after that, we proceeded with games for the children and some of the parents. We distributed the gifts after the games.

Preparing the feast

Thank You note from the kids

The volunteers


Loot bags

Members of the community returned the gesture by singing a beautiful thank-you song for us. It was another beautiful TREK.

After the outreach, we trekked back to the municipal hall, where we decided to spend the night. Some of our volunteers had difficulty on the trek back, and we had to send a rescue team. But, thank God, before 8:00 PM, everyone was already at the municipal hall to rest. Well, most chose to spend the night celebrating. I joined them.

Other Good Travels


  1. Hello! I was in Kibungan last Nov 5-7, I hope I can join this event in the future. :)

    1. Please join us. We have six more schools to go to this year. Check