Luzon, Mountains, Philippines

Kunig: The Dog Mountaineer of Maligcong, Bontoc, Mountain Province

If you’ve been following my blog, you know how adventure has taught me a LOT of things. It even allowed me to meet amazing people – crazy, creative and unique people whom you don’t usually encounter in your routinary life.

But during my travel to the beautiful Maligcong, Bontoc, Mountain Province another worthy experience has happened. And it was not because of a particular activity, not even a person – it was because of a dog.

Yes, you read it right.

A dog named Kunig.

We were marvelling at the beauty of Maligcong Rice Terraces at the balcony of Suzette’s Homestay, when we noticed this bulky brown dog. Some of my buddies were grilling some eggplant and fish at that time and he seemed tempted to move closer to the aroma of the food.

But the owner of the place, Suzette reprimanded him, “Kunig!”

And once Kunig heard that he would pretend as if he was just stretching his legs looking somewhere as if he didn’t actually mean to eat the food, that he was just stretchin’. LOL!

What an adorable dog. In the middle of our laughter, Suzette’s proudly told us that Kunig joins mountaineers during climb.

Of course, I didn’t pay attention to that at first. How could that possible? A dog instead of sleeping or eating would rather join a hike?

Maligcong Mountain Province
Marshmallow time! with Mike, Madam Diego, Sandy and Sir Fung.

During dinner time, the group decided to prepare a boodle fight. Oh so many food. Exciting! Fiesta! LOL!

We helped one another to cook grilled pork, fish, soup, vegetables, then the mangoes (hilaw na manga). Sarap! I was at the kitchen assisting, helping to prepare food. During that time, I had a chance to interact with Suzette’s cutie little kids and even became an audience of her while she cooked the delicious vegetables.

Maligcong, Bontoc, Mountain province
Interview portion with Ate Suzette while cooking. LOL!

Staying at Suzette’s was like home. It was like you were in your tita’s kitchen that you can just go in and out without hesitation. So while she was cooking I had a chat with her, and a few moments later Suzette was already sharing me her story. At the end of our conversation, I asked her about Kunig. She nonchalantly said in Tagalog, “yeah, Kunig will join you tomorrow morning.”


Food was finally served and it was one of the best and most satisfying dinners (during travel) of my life. I mean it was delicious! Not to mention the great company .

Boodle Fight Maligcong
Tara! Kain na!
boodle fight maligcong
Ready? Attack!!! Credit: Madam Diego

While we were savoring, enjoying the food, Kunig was just there patiently waiting for our time to finish. Kunig was a smart dog. He was waiting there, because he knew he was also about experience a feast!

Maligcong Mountain province
Chilin’ at night. Sandy is playing with Kunig.

At about 3:30AM, we all sipped our morning coffee and prepared everything as we climbed Mt. Kupapey. When Tina, our guide, told us that it was time to go, we walked along this long dark road until we reached the rice paddies.

Passing through the rice terraces, we were welcomed by this dark wilderness in a steep slippery slope. As what I already shared to you in my previous post, that climb was difficult for me mainly because I was not that fit (until now LOL).

Little by little the gap between me and my mountaineer friends has become wider and wider. Until I realized, I was all alone. I couldn’t see them anymore, their lights, couldn’t even hear their voices. I would want to call them in my loud big voice, but I was in the middle of the jungle. You wouldn’t know what’s gonna happen if you make some noise there, disturbing the trees and animals, waking up the aswang and enkantos. LOL! Yes I have a very imaginative mind.

And then in the stillness of the dark wilderness, I heard a bark behind me. “Oh my goodness!” It scared the hell out of me! I thought it was a manananggal, or aswang masquerading in the form of a wolf or something.

It was the biggest relief of my life, when I learned it was Kunig. He was pushing his nose on me, as if telling me to hurry up. Kunig’s bark must have helped Tina,our guide, to find me easily when she went back.

Then after that, it has become a relaxed and enjoyable hike, while talking to Ate Tina. Kunig was nowhere to be found, but I could hear his bark somewhere. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a real sound of his bark or something that only me could hear, like something that kept on playing in my head.

Finally, we’ve reached the summit. It was so nice to see my travel buddies there waiting. The peak of Mt. Kupapey was just beautiful – all the sweat and hardwork of the hike was worth it.

Climbing mountains will make you realize that there are things in this world that are worthy of sacrifice and hardwork. #hugot LOL!

Maligcong Bontoc Mountain Province
Maligcong Bontoc Mountain Province

Then after a few minutes, I finally saw Kunig. He was roaming around the bushes, running and playing. I am not sure if you agree, but one of the best things to see on top of a mountain is a dog running around, enjoying the beauty of nature like you do.

When I finally get a hold of him, I was able to take a picture of us. It was like he understood that he needed to look at the camera. Smart dog. 🙂

Maligcong Bontoc Mountain province
Kunig is chillin’  Photo Credit: Madam Diego Ong 🙂
Kunig Maligcong Bontoc Mountain Province
Pogi… ni Kunig! LOL!

When we’ve finally descended back to the village, Suzette served us some mushroom soup. It has no ingredients in it but mushroom, and it was really good. It was a nice way for us to chill and relax after a tiring climb.

And when I was sipping my soup, I saw Kunig under the table, soundly sleeping.

I remember myself whispering, “good boy.”

Kunig Maligcong
Pagod si Kunig.

It’s an amazing experience of how mountains, and even a dog can put so much meaning to a person’s travel and adventure.

It puts your mind on the right perspective, that sometimes living in a world of more than 7 billion people makes you feel unimportant and detached…but one thing I know for sure, being close to nature makes you feel connected – to nature, to yourself, to the universe.

Thank you Kunig for making this climb an awesome experience!



For Travel Guide to Maligcong and Mt Kupapey, Please check this post – The Climb to Mt Kupapey


  1. Hehe! Nice dog! Dogs are great adventuring buddies. We experienced a similar thing to yours when we had a day trek up Pico de Loro. We gave our guide dog plenty of treats after we finished our trek. 🙂

    Hope to meet Kunig one day.

  2. The food on the table looks so delicious!!!!

    Kuning is amazing. I love dogs and it toke me back to India where I did an 11 days hike, in the last 4 days we found a homeless dog and he walked every time with us, so friendly, so cute, all the time playing with me, the worst thing it was on the last day when the hike finished and we took a car back to the village. He was seat and looking at the car leaving… just broke my heart 🙁 Happy do know that Kuning is not a homeless dog.

    1. Jon Espina Author

      Hi Fabio,

      It’s just truly amazing that aside from the people and new friends we meet duting travel, our paths are also crossed with these lovely animals especially dogs that in a way affect us. Thanks fro dropping by! Yes, Kunig is awesome.


  3. Aww… I would have been quite entertained too if I ever see a dog who likes to hike. Kunig is so cute and I think we can both agree that he sorta saved you from getting lost haha…

    I loved the view in the summit, that sea of clouds, just wow!


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