THE PROVINCE OF ABRA or the well-known “Natural Dye Capital of the Philippines”is an inland province in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon Philippines, bordered in the north side by the Ilocos Norte and Apayao, south side by Ilocos Sur and Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur on the west side, and in the east side is Kalinga and Apayao.
The place has an abundant natural dye-yielding plants extracted from the barks, leaves, fruits, and roots to color food, beverages, textiles, cosmetics, furniture, and other products. Loom weaving and embroidery is also famous in Abra.
The first settlers of Abra came from the Bontocs and Ifugaos ancestry; others were from Tingguians or Itnegs descendants.
In the 15th century during the Spanish regime, a barracks was built in Bangued to protect the settlers who converted to Christianity from Tingguian attacks. A few years later, one of the well-known revolutionist, Gabriela Silang and her army came to Abra from Ilocos and continued their revolt. Then in 1763, Gabriela Silang was captured and hanged by the Spaniards.
During the 18th century, Ilocos region was divided into Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, and Abra became a political-military province in 1846 until the arrival of the Americans in 1899.
In 1908, Abra was again placed under the governance of the Ilocos Sur region. However on March 9, 1917, Abra was re-established as a province. Conrado Balweg, the famous revolutionary priest of the Cordillera Tribes fought for the rights of his tribesmen. Then in 1987, the Philippine Government created the Cordillera Administrative Region that includes Abra as a peace pact.
The province of Abra is bordered by the towering mountain ranges from west to east sides with rugged terrain, mountains and hills, and plains. The total land area is approximately 397,555 hectares.
In terms of population, Abra has 195,964 inhabitants and the predominant languages are Ilocano and Itneg. Ilocano is spoken by 73.65% of the region's total population, 25.18% speak Itneg, .16% speak Tagalog, and the remaining .54% speak other dialects.
Abra also has two pronounced climate seasons which is dry season from November to April, and wet season during the rest of the year.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY IN ABRA
The province’ economy is primarily based in agriculture with major crops such as rice, corn, root crops; and commercial produce such as coffee, tobacco, and coconut. Other areas in Abra are also used for livestock production. However, cottage industries also adds in the province revenue with bamboo and rattan craft making, as well as the natural dye industry, loom weaving and embroidery.
ART AND CULTURAL HERITAGE IN ABRA
The people of Abra and tribes in the mountain areas generally continuous their customs and practices, as well as collection of antique porcelains, jars and gongs. Their cultural practices are also highlighted in their ethnic music and festivals:
Arya Abra – This is celebrated every March 9 annually in commemoration of the creation of Abra province and it showcases grand cultural parade.
Tingguian Festival – This Festival features rich and colorful dances, rituals and songs of the Tingguian tribe.
Abra townsfolk are largely engaged in bamboo and rattan craft making, natural dye, loom weaving and embroidery, garment craft, and needlecraft.
MUNICIPALITIES OF ABRA
The province has 27 municipalities and 304 barangays:
NO. OF BARANGAYS
This river is the biggest, longest, and most popular river in the valleys of the province. It is where all rivers and streams converge together and an extremely ideal place for swimming and fishing.
Abra River Irrigation Project
A project of the Abra Church and the National Irrigation Administration designed to irrigate approximately 3,900 hectares of farmland..
Boliney Hot Spring
This Spring can be reached by jeepney just 32 kilometers away and good for hot and cold baths.
This is situated in San Miguel, Bucay. Ideal place for picnic lovers.
Cave of Sibud-Sibud
This Cave can be reached after a 33 kilometer or 1 ½ hour travel. An ideal place for nature lovers.
Don Mariano Marcos Bridge
Located along the Abra Kalinga National Road, it is the third longest bridge in the country, with a total length of 886.812 linear meters.
Family Museum of Don Teodoro Brillantes
This houses the collections and mementos of the Brillantes family with a reflection of Spanish culture.
Footprints of Angalo
Angalo being the Adam or First Man in Abra mythology. Believed by the locals to be the set of footprints of a real giant in San Quintin measuring 15 meters long, five meters wide, and ten feet deep. On a clear day, it can be seen visibly even from a distance.
One of the several lakes of Taquib in Villaviciosa. A favorite place for town picnics, swimming, and fishing. According to legend, it was formerly a dwelling of several families.
Another lake located in Villaviciosa. An ideal place for campers and hikers.
Libtec Underground River
This is an enchanting underground river where appears, from a distance, a cave protruding at the surface of an empty field. Underneath the surface is a flowing underground river with stalagmites.
This is also an ideal place for fishing and swimming. Travel time is 1 ½ hours.
Malamsit Calm Spring
This offers a swimming pool with clear and calm water amidst ornamental plants and shady fruit trees.
This can be reached by mini bus along the Bangued - Dolores-San Juan Provincial Road. Travel time is 30 minutes to one hour.
Manabo Irrigation Project
This place is ideal for educational trips with Roman-inspired aqueducts, spacious swimming pool, and one-kilometer tunnel.
Mary Barbero Park
The park has a man-made lagoon, a playground for children, and century-old acacia trees surrounding the landscaped plaza.
Old Roman Catholic Churches
Palayan ng Bayan
The site covers a sprawling 56 hectares atop a hill.
Sacred Stones or “Pinaing”
This is situated in Dumayco, Penarrubia with a huge Balete Tree and has sacred stones called “pinpinaing” by the village people symbolizing the “anito” or spirits of the ancestors.
A 40-meter tunnel located along the Abra-Ilocos Sur National road. This is a popular landmark for prominent visitors.
Victoria National Park
This Park features a shrine of the Blessed Mother cradling the Infant Jesus built near the reservoir of the Bangued waterworks as well as a swimming pool.
Philippine local bus operators such as Partas Trans travel to Abra from Manila or Pangasinan and Philippine Rabbit takes the Baguio-Abra-Manila route. Viron Trans also has trips from Baguio to Abra.