Trip with Doria to Ifugao to hunt on Colonel William E. Dosser’s ranch. Interesting, strenuous with terrific heat and a very long ride on ponies from Marasat, Isabela to the ranch house. Doria and I motored to Balete pass rest house the first afternoon–3000 ft altitude–cold at night. Last time I went thru here was on horseback in 1920, with Beth, Virginia, General McIntyre and Don Serafin Linsangan–hence arose the impulse to build this road; a difficult bit of engineering which has since tripled the population of Nueva Viscaya and Isabela through immigration. Even today, there are numerous families with all their household goods in bull or carabao carts moving in, chiefly over the high mountains from the Ilocos country. Some also enter via the old Villaverde trail from Tayug–which was almost impossible by horse in my day. The road leading up to Balete passes thru a wild and beautiful camping country with clear streams rather like northern California–now settling up. The equal of a train load of goods for or from the valley of the Cagayan passes over this mountain road every day by truck. The second range of mountains–between Nueva Viscaya and Isabela–has only a one way road, with terrific zig-zags and much delay. There are numerous tolls for the permanent or temporary bridges, which makes the passage quite expensive.
At noon, on the 16th we reached the army post at Echague, where Lt. Dionisio is in command. Echague is still in a backwater in spite of the thru road. It appears to be dull, stale, flat and weary, and is still in the grip of Chino store keepers. There, Dosser and Lieutenant Beulan met us, and at Marasat after ten miles of hellish rough and dusty barrio road we met Lt. Baccay with his four soldiers from Miayaoyao. Were told we could not make camp that afternoon, and had to spend a typical barrio night in Marasat, surrounded by dust, noises, smells and filth–pigs, dogs, chickens and carabao–garlic etc. This finally put Doria and me off eating for the trip, and the rest of the time I subsisted on tinned milk–being ill anyway. The barrio teniente brought in a wounded eagle which he carried peacefully under his arm–with a cord on its leg. This bird stood with superb disdain and pride while the barrio folk inspected it–Dosser let it go later.
Six hours on pony-back, over flat country and Magat river–which may be forded only at this time of year–then over low rolling country to a ranch leased from the Government by Dosser and Beulan; they have about one thousand head of cross-bred Hereford and Indian stock, which are the finest cattle I have seen in the Philippines. The altitude was only some one thousand feet; there is plenty of water and the whole country is ideal for grazing, resembling California in the old days. Hunting from the 17th-20th April 1936. We were posted on hills with “draws”–i.e., wooded valleys above streams which were beaten by Ifugao and Filipino hunters: very picturesque they were, with lots of their jackal-like dogs. The deer came out running at a distance of 150-200 yards–and were hard shots. We got 8 in all, and one sizeable boar was bayed by dogs and speared by the Ifugaos. We saw parrots, jungle fowl, monkeys and orioles, in the most beautiful imaginable scenery. The men caught a fifteen day old fawn (which we have brought down to Manila and are keeping in the yard). At the bathing creek near the ranch house, where the average depth of water is six inches, there is a hole about fifteen feet deep dug by the crocodiles which come thirty kilometers up in the mountains by the small streams discharging into the Magat River. They take occasional calves from the ranch. We saw no wild carabao, tho always expecting them. One crowd (!) (Batangas Transport) was near there the week before and had killed two cimarrones. The administration of the game laws by the Bureau of Science is ridiculous–it should be transferred to the Constabulary and have some teeth put in it.
There is a great scarcity of game since my day 20 years ago altho it is now supposed to be a closed season for 3 years, except for those who hold special licenses in the Mountain Province. We spent three golden days perched on hill tops watching the beaters and their dogs in the draws below–with the shouting, calling and fusillade from above when a deer appeared. Doria stood the “roughing it” and the physical strain magnificently–thirst was the worst feature of all–the temperature must have risen to 130° in the sun, and we had no effective method of keeping water cool in the canteens. The ponies did prodigies in carrying us up high hills over rough cattle trails–one of these little stallions does twice as much work as a stable-fed horse at home. I was ill with indigestion all the time, and made the grade with difficulty. Pleased by the abundance of song birds–(unusual in the Philippines) and by the hoarse shouts of the kalaw (hornbill).
Terrific heat, dust and hours of real thirst on the drive hack to Balete.