Natubleng Burial Caves
Natubleng Burial Caves are natural burial caves in Natubleng, Buguias, Benguet. However, at present people refer it to the most popular burial cave in the area, known as the Apo Anno Cave, the final resting place of the most famous mummy in Benguet, Apo Anno. Another natural burial cave in Natubleng is the Shogen Burial Cave, which is in need of further studies and exploration.
History of Apo Anno
Apo Anno is believed to be the first leader to be mummified in Benguet due to his reign marked with peace and prosperity during the 12th Century. Further, the Agno River was named after him.
Genealogy of Anno
From the oral tradition of Benguet, Apo Anno is believed to be a demigod. His father is a human being, a hunter named Togtogaka, while his biological mother is Kuyapon, a Tomongao (mountain spirit) in human form at the time when she & Togtogaka conceived Anno. Because of his human scent, Kuyapon’s father did not want him; hence, Kuyapon gave the child to Togtogaka. Togtogaka then took home the child to his wife, whom he cannot bear a child with. As such, Anno is said to be a gift of the goddess to the couple.
No clear accounts state whether or not Anno got married and had children.
Disappearance of Apo Anno Mummy
From the oral memories of the community of Nabalicong, as well as, documents pertaining to disappearance of the preserved body, Apo Anno’s mummy disappeared around 1918 to 1920 when Americans were starting to erect structures in Benguet. Accordingly, Iloko cargo carriers transported the mummy from Benguet to Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Linda De Leon in her article “The Mummies of Benguet” published in the Philippine Panorama on August 8, 1976, stated that the Apo Anno mummy was also exhibited in a museum in Seattle, Washington sometime in the late 1940’s.
In 1984, Ms. Conception Cortes donated the mummy to the National Museum in Manila. She reported that she purchased the mummy in 1973 and that the mummy belonged to the late Don Antonio Jimenez of Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Recovery of Apo Anno Mummy
Sometime in the 1960’s a letter from a museum in the USA came to Benguet seeking the assistance of the municipal government of Buguias and Kabayan to help in locating the kin of Apo Anno so that his remains may be brought home. However, no action happened with regard to the letter since the expected descendants did not follow up the case due to fear and due to their inability to understand the paper works they had to accomplish.
In 1995, Mr. Sario Copas then councilor of Buguias passed a resolution in the municipal council for the recovery of the Apo Anno. However, the resolution was not heard. It was only in 1998 during a seminar-workshop on the conservation of Benguet mummies held in the Benguet Provincial Capitol that Mr. Copas who became a provincial board member reasserted the return of Apo Anno to Buguias. From there, the staff of National Museum in Manila gave the reassurance that the matter would be discussed with their Director. Mr. Copas filed the petition at the provincial board, and the Provincial Resolution No. 98-527 dated October 28, 1998 was passed and unanimously endorsed by the provincial board, and then approved by then Governor Raul Molintas.
Apo Anno was eventually returned to Benguet in the same year. In May 1999, the mummy was sealed from public view.
- Isikias Picpican. The Igorot Mummies. Rex Bookstore, Inc. 2003. Accessed November 1, 2011.
- Buguias. Province of Benguet. 2011. Accessed November 1, 2011.
Bridge Cosme. Photos: Apo Anno Cave & Apo Anno. Nabalicong, Buguias, Benguet. May 14-16, 1999. Permission obtained from photographer November 8, 2011.