A Day of Adventure in Apao & Piwek Rock Formations

Guest Post by Nyssa of Nys Discoveries

I had been wanting to go to the Piwek Rock Formations for a long time now and when Nyssa invited me to join her and her sister on a day trip to Tineg I jumped at the chance. During the ride there Nyssa told me how excited she was to be exploring Abra’s Wild and Beautiful Places and how amazed she is at the hidden beauty of the Province that only a few travellers have been lucky to see, me being among them.
I suggested to Nyssa that she write a blog post about her Piwek Rock Formations experience and I would upload it to Silverbackpacker.
Happily she agreed and this is her first attempt at writing. So sit back, scroll through, enjoy and please leave a comment below.

A special thankyou to George Lalin for finding the time from his busy schedule to arrange and accompany us on this trip to Apao and the Piwek Rock Formations.

A Day of Adventure in Apao & Piwek Rock Formations by @NysDiscoveries

My adventure in the upland municipality of Tineg in Abra started at nine in the morning of December 27, 2017. My sister Marion and I met with my friends Dave, Kat, George, Chlouie and Maita in Calaba, Bangued. Dave joined me and my sister in a Toyota Fortuner and the rest of the group took the Ford Ranger for a convoy-ride.

The trip went smoothly as we passed the towns of Tayum and Dolores. We were stalled at bit as we approached Poblacion, San Juan. Apparently, the people of San Juan were celebrating their town fiesta. We waited for the parade to end, causing our drive to a slow- moving pace as we tail-ended the performers.

After some time, we got into bumpy ride after the paved road ended. At approximately five kilometers, the rough road was devoid of any people nor houses on both sides. We were anxiously waiting for the bumpy ride to come to an end. It was my sister’s first time to navigate in this place; We were both eagerly waiting to see a cemented road again.

As we slowly approached Tineg, a welcome sign and majestic mountain views greeted us. It was my second time to visit the Apao Rolling Hills. It is still a wonder to see even if the grasslands’ colors have changed from green to brown. I still got giddy and excited upon seeing that right side of the road. As for my sister, it’s her first time to travel around our hometown.

Sisters at Apao Rolling Hills, Tineg

It took us roughly three hours to arrive at Sitio Vira, Barangay Alaoa where the new Tineg municipal hall is located. There was a signage ‘Baley ti Itineg’ displayed across the front side of the building, which according to the locals, means “House of the People of Tineg”. In front of the town hall is the newly built Rural Health Unit building and far north is the three-storey Municipal Police Station. A Cool and refreshing breeze greeted us as we alighted from our vehicles to register in the municipal hall. We also took a short time in and around the building. We stayed a little bit longer at the terrace as we took delight on the beautiful sceneries right before us while enjoying the cool weather.

We parked our car at the side of the building and hopped in on the Ranger. George drove us first to the viewpoint for the Apao Rolling Hills; and the vista before us were sceneries of brown mountain ranges. I felt ecstasy relishing all the wonders of nature that surrounds us. Then we were to go downhill to Alaoa proper where a rougher and more difficult dirt road lies. The road going to the jump-off point to Piwek is a three-kilometer dirt road and a kilometer of another concrete. That was a fifteen-minute downhill ride.

Being familiar with the locals, George approached one man who seemed to be in charge for our tour and the simple gift-giving we planned.  Alaoa proper is a very laid-back Adasen community, a Tingguian sub-tribe . It has only a few houses, mostly made of wood with some “agaman” or rice granaries in the backyards. I can imagine the simple life these locals are living and with all the bare necessities at their backyard.

We then started creating packs of biscuits, snacks and juices we brought purposely for the kids and distributed them one by one. We also had a few giveaways for the elders or parents consisting of instant noodles, juices and biscuits. It was such a nice feeling sharing to an impoverished community this Christmas season. My heart was touched as the recipients were filled with joy receiving their simple gifts. We likewise fed their grazing chickens and stray dogs with some bread.

gift giving in Alaoa, Tineg, Abra

After lunch at around two in the afternoon, we started our trek to the Piwek Rock Formations accompanied by four locals as our guides. On our way to the river, we met two fishermen who had caught a big eel. We took pictures of their catch and George even offered to buy it from them, but to no avail. Seems they needed it for their dinner.

The first adventure we had was riding a bamboo raft to cross the river. The guides recommended for us to squat but we stubbornly stood up as it is much more fun and easier to take pictures and videos around. The next activity we did was trekking along the peculiar and jagged boulders.  I found the trek fun and feeling adventurous as we went up and down through the rocks. We got ourselves wet below the waist line as we must cross another portion of the river while stepping on huge rocks below the water. The current was a bit strong but manageable for a person to stand and move. Care, of course, was taken so as not to slip and fall off. We continued our rock climbing adventure until we saw those beautiful and colorful rock formations that formed part of God and nature’s gift to the Tingguians.

I took pictures of myself and my sister to capture the moment, then continued with our rock climbing and trekking. As we reached one of the high rocks that also served as platform for cliff jumps, we marveled at the awesome white-bronze rock formations all around us. Water surrounding the rocks are of a dark green hue, which complements the rock formations. Pictures were taken on our own or by the guides. We also saw some goats along the rocks at the far side of our trekking location.

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Raft across the river on way to Piwek Rock Formations, Tineg

Two reasons we went here were to experience cliff jumping and to also to measure the height of the rock for jump off. When I saw the height and depth, I figured I can overcome it as this isn’t my first time to do cliff jumping. The first one I had was in Boracay at Ariel’s point six years ago and thought that this is of shorter height than my first one. My second was in Kili Falls but that was really a short height to jump off with.

The photo taking for cliff jump begins but only one out of the four guides could jump at that height. George brought his measuring tape to determine the height of the jump off point down below the waters. It measured eleven meters or 36 feet. We weren’t able to measure the depths of the water though.

No one was preparing to jump nor swim, so I decided to do cliff jump internally with myself. I stripped off my outer clothes, leaving my swimsuit in place; put on my goggles as I had contact lenses at that time. The cool wind didn’t really help but I already expected the waters down to be cold. As I reached the near tip of the rock, I started to shake and got nervous. Air was building in my chest and my heart started to pump loudly. I started to shout to remove all the nervousness and let go of my fears. It really took a while before I jumped because of the fear and nervousness that I felt.

Then I finally did it. I finally cliff-JUMPED again.

I plunged swiftly into the water and went deep down; my body turned into a U-shape below the surface. I waited for my body to rise and felt a tinge of panic because of fear that I may not reach the surface of the water. I finally rose and looked for the help of the guides, as I am not that confident of my swimming skills. I felt sore with the lower part of my body and I couldn’t swim much due to pain. My landing was not smooth nor good because my butt hurts a lot and I started shouting, “It’s painful!!!” Haha.


The guides dragged me to the nearest rock on the side. I could barely carry my body as I struggled to get on the rocks. I was still feeling the hangover of my jump and its impact on my shaking body. The pain, my pounding heart and the cold wind kept me shaking but I also felt glad I was able to do it again and survived. I told the guides that I might as well enjoy swimming in the waters before I climbed back up. There was also another rock formation across the one I jumped where I decided to take my next small cliff jumps.

Piwek Rock Formations, Alaoa, Tineg, Abra cliff climbing
Piwek Rock Formations, Alaoa, Tineg, Abra Nyssa
River cross Piwek Rock Formations, Alaoa, Tineg, Abra

The people at the top told me to climb and do another jump again. I didn’t think I would be able to take another high cliff jump as I was still hurting and shaking. So, two mini cliff jumps I did, to get used to the waters and the jumping. I finally regained my energy and started to climb up the rocks with the help of the guides. The climb was difficult because there wasn’t a rope to hang on with and the steps where to place my feet and hands were not that easy to locate. With the helping hands of the guides, I finally managed to reach the top.

Once I reached my companions’ location, I told them that I am already satisfied and fulfilled with my jump. I still hurt though so I couldn’t manage to do another jump at that moment. It will take me a long while to regain the courage to jump again. But we could not afford the time for that so we decided to head back home as it was already late in the afternoon.

We trekked back and climbed rocks again. This time, we went on top of a huge white rock formation and took pictures once more. The rocks were white and smooth, cold and not slippery. Some have edges, so care must be taken when trekking along those rocks. It was an exhilarating experience being on those rocks and high above the green waters, enjoying the cool refreshing wind. Then we headed back to the community where we left the car.

We went back to the Municipal Hall to have our coffee and snacks. On our way up, we were stalled for just a few minutes due to the ongoing road construction where the backhoe was clearing the road. Aside from that, we let a 6x6 truck pass first before we did.

When we arrived at Vira, the people from the Municipal hall invited us for a coffee and merienda. Some locals volunteered to tour us around the new PNP station and we did some small interaction with the people there.

We then went back on our way to Bangued. The trip was unremarkable as we were tired and hungry. We ate chips along the way while conversing with Dave about his adventures. We had hoped to have Miki Pancit in Dolores but unfortunately it was already closed when we arrived. We settled for a dinner in Chowking Bangued instead. We were all hungry and merrily ate our food, then went home afterwards.

The snacks and grocery items were kindly donated by New Commercial Trading, a well known grocery store in Bangued, Abra. It is located along Partelo Street in front of the Bangued Central Market. Serving the local public for more than a decade, it offers a wide range of both food and non-food products, as well as household items. Definitely a place where you buy more!

Nyssa gift giving in Alaoa, Tineg, Abra

About the Author

Nyssa Kho

Nyssa Kho

Nyssa is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Computer Science at De La Salle University. In her spare time, she loves to read and play puzzle games, word games and logic games. She also likes to spend quality time with her family and friends. She fancies travelling to places to see the wonderful creation of God or discover new places and food for experience.

Follow her on FB: facebook.com/xumeilian

And IG: @nysdicoveries @xumeilian

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Essential Travel Guides Piwek Rock Formations Tineg Abra Philippines

How to travel to Abra from Manila Read Here

How to get to Apaoa and Piwek Rock Formations

Jeepney from Bangued to Tineg

Once you arrive in Bangued, take a tricycle to the jeepney terminal in the petrol station near the DPWH Compound.
Jeepneys leave for Tineg once a day at 08.00. 

The trip takes around 3 hours to Vira where you alight.

Return trip to Bangued – The Jeepney departs once a day in late afternoon. It’s best to check times with the driver on outward trip

 By Car or Motorbike

Leave Bangued on the road to Tayum. Drive through Tayum and across the Don Mariano Bridge. Keep going until you come to a large Blue waiting shed in the middle of the junction.
Follow the road to the left and continue until you reach Dolores.
Continue to San Juan. Drive through San Juan until you come to the turning for Tineg.
This road is not concreted all the way and can get rough at times.
Continue until you reach the new LGU building in Vira where you need to register.
After registering ask directions to Apao Rolling Hills and /or Barangay Apaoa where Piwek Rock Formations are to be found

How to Book Your Piwek Rock Formations trip

The best way to book your Piwek Rock Formations and other tours around Abra is with the Abramazing Group. They are a local group of enthusiasts and experts on Everything Abra.
There is an Office at the Pasalubong Centre just before the Tangadan Tunnel where you can stopover as you enter the Province or you can 
Contact Dykath Molina on 092 777 258 56  or on Facebook 

Piwek Rock Formations, Alaoa, Tineg, Abra Pin

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