“This story happened during the American invasion of the Philippine archipelago, when the American colonizers were finally able to explore the depths of the Cordilleras.

One day, when American soldiers were exploring the heart of the Cordilleran mountains, they came to a place where a civilization was already thriving. They were surprised with what they saw as they never expected that an organized society would exist in the dense hearts of the forest.

Just as surprised as the Americans were, the men of the tribe, in their traditional garb, gathered around the strangers who have trespassed on their domain. Trying to establish diplomacy, the soldiers tried to communicate with these primitive individuals but their efforts were for naught. The natives, on the other hand, keenly studied these tall and fair-skinned and seemingly amiable trespassers.

Undaunted, the trespassers tried asking what the name of this strange place is. But seeing that their questions are not getting through, they tried to settle themselves down on the shades of the trees bordering the place.

When they’ve finally settled themselves down, they noticed some human bones on the outlying areas. Out of sheer curiosity, they started striking these bones on each other. With each strike, a cacophony of sounds was produced. “Tok tok tok.” And with each strike of these bones, an idea struck the American soldiers.

Then they thought, why not call this place “Bone-Tok”. This is a portmanteau of the two of the most compelling things they’ve witnessed in the area. From then on, they started referring to this place “Bone-Tok”, which, with the passage of time, revolved into “Bontoc” which is how the place is currently called. The rest, they say, is history.”

The Bontoc Valley, composed of the four central barangays of Samoki, Bontoc Ili, Poblacion and Caluttit, as seen from the view deck on the way to Guina-ang and Mainit.

None of this of course is true. 🙂  This is purely a product of my mom’s creative mind in response to an assignment I had when I was in Grade Three. We were assigned to share a legend to our classmates. Innocent kid that I was, I asked my mom for any legend that she has heard of. I never honestly thought that she’d be able to come up with something like this though:)

I gamely conveyed this legend-cum-story to my classmates and got some encouraging nods from my homeroom teacher. Later on, I would realize that the “bones” my mom was referring to were actually found in the neighboring town of Sagada, and not in Bontoc.

(I eventually added my own touches to my mom’s spur-of-the-moment story to somehow add some credibility to it :)).



  1. hahahahaha…. yup, have heard this too before as the supposed origin of the name of our town!!!! Can you believe it? heard it from a elementary teacher named Saturnino Diwayan from Kalinga!!!!! hahahahahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. love the Bontoc DURING 1970’s WHEN THE unpolluted CHICO river IS CLEAN AND GIVE ITS ”WADING ” and” chalit” to all that seeks for it, the Chico River that has been a swimming and picnic place in summer time.laughter in the river banks, now the river is turning yellow and polluted because of the small scale miners in nearby villages that is now destroying the natural beauty of THE RIVER, Bontoc is also becoming a small Baguio,over populated and modernized,all I can cherish is the beautiful and peaceful Bontoc that people live in serenity , now is different story, ,,,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately it is true. The river is deteriorating, the once mighty Chico river is slowly dying away. The sins of modernization and progress are also creeping into the once sleepy town of Bontoc. It is way different today from it was 20 years ago.


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