Once upon a time, when the world was very young, there lived a mother and her two sons in the small valley of Cholya.
One day, the mother saw her two sons resting under a tree. She approached them and asked why they did not go to the mountains when they knew there was no meat in the house. Taking their dog and spears, they started for the mountains.
The whole day, the poor mother waited patiently for her sons. When she saw the sun set in the west, she went inside the house to cook the remaining rice and meat for their evening meal. Darkness soon settled upon the earth; yet, the boys did not arrive. Lighting a torch of saleng (pine wood wet with pitch), she sat at the pantew (front yard of the house) and gazed towards the direction where her sons had disappeared earlier in the morning.
At last, she heard approaching footsteps. Lifting the torch from the ground, she called out for her eldest son. The figure came nearer, but there was no answer. She finally recognized her son. Taking his spear and holding his arm, she helped him climb the last step that led up their house. Then, the younger brother arrived. Exhausted and hungry, the boys sadly related the things that had happened to them in the forest. They said that they ran as fast as they could, trying to kill a deer but since the world was flat, the animals were swifter. No longer did the forest have so many animals as before. But most of them had gone beyond, and had fallen into the great pit at the end of the earth.
Upon hearing the sad story, the mother invited her two sons to eat the meal she had prepared. Quietly, the three ate their food. After eating, the good woman told her sons to say a little prayer to the Great Spirit, Lumawig, for help.
That night, the mother and her two sons had a dream. Lumawig appeared to them and told the boys to pile up all the stones at the mouth of the river. That if they did this, the shape of the earth would change, and everything would be better in the world. The next morning, the boys went to the river to do what was bidden them by Lumawig. They worked hard from morning till night.
As the people slept, the water in the river rose higher and higher, until finally the whole village was flooded. The following day, nothing could be seen, except water, floating dead bodies, houses, and trees. All seemed to have perished in the flood. But the great Lumawig did not permit it to be so; for, on top of Mount Pokis, a man and woman survived. As an act of thanksgiving to the Great Spirit, the couple offered prayers.
One day, the man thought of exploring the nearby mountains. There he found a woman. When he approached her, she conceived a son. The man took her to Mount Pokis, and there the three waited for the water to recede and for the land to dry.
The day they descended to the valley, they noticed the great change. There was no land to be seen, but mountains all around and the former ili of Cholya were divided into four areas; later known as Afeu, Mag-yo, Chao-ey and Umpeg. In the middle of this beautiful valley flowed a great river, the Chico River, dividing the town into two, Cholya (later known as Bontoc) and Kidla (Samoki).
The man, with the help of the two women, built two little huts, one for him and the woman of Mount Pokis and the other for the woman from Mount Kalawitan. As months passed, the women bore two healthy babies, a boy and a girl. The two married later and bore many children, until at last the people grew in number.
The people of Cholya travelled into the land of Ilocanos. They bartered meat and rice for soalt and tobacco. These lowland people would ask about the land where they had come from. The Igorot, not knowing the dialect of the Ilocanos, would make gesture outlining big mountains, small houses, and a great flowing river. In their excitement, the Ilocanos said, “Bondok, bondok”, referring to the mountains. And the Igorots, not knowing what the Ilocanos meant, nodded and said happily, “yes, yes, Bontok, Bontok”.
And that is how Bontoc has got its name.