We left Batad that morning to catch our Van going back to Banaue. With leg muscles still slightly sore from our hike to and fro the Tappia Falls, we took the easy route back to the saddle which is a moderate slope than the steep stairs we took going down. It was a good thing that the Korean group we shared the Van with waited for us. We reached Banaue before noon and found Stairway Lodge conveniently located near an internet station. Lunch and a bit rest revived our energies to explore the Banaue Rice Terraces.
I raved about the Rice Terraces in Cordilleras in my Batad Post as one of the things I’m proud of in the Philippines. These 2000 years old stairways carved on the side of the mountains starting at the elevation of 1500meters and fed by an ancient irrigation system is a representation on how rich our Filipino culture is. How the knowledge of building these structures, the religious practices and social behaviours have been passed down generations and survived throughout the years. American Anthropoligist Otley Beyer also wrote how the Ifugaos are linked to the Chinese migrants from Tonkin China who brought along the knowledge of copper and rice.
The UNESCO World Heritage designation covers several clusters of Terraces in the Cordillera region of Ifugao. The Batad Amphitheatre Terraces is one of them. There’s also the 650AD stone-walled terraces in Hapao, Hugdungan. There’s also the Mayayao Rice Terraces which grows the ifugao Tinawon Rice. The Kiangan Terraces which grows the Nagcadan and Julungan rice is closer to the more accessible and vast terraces of Banaue proper.
We hired a couple of tricycles for Pesos 100 each person to take us to the Banaue Terraces Summit Viewpoint. There are two persons on each tricycle. If you want to ride in style, try going top-load on a tricycle like what the ever adventurous Dongho did. The 6km road up to the Viewpoint is well paved. Expect stunning views on your right side when riding up.
There are several viewpoints as our tricycle climb the road. There’s the lower view, mid view and the highest point. It’s really interesting to see this vast landscape on different angles. The lower view point makes it look like some Aztec Pyramids or a scene from Machu Picchu. The Middle view of the terraces has a nice panorama showing a view of a waterfall in the midst of the terraces. We also found the official UNESCO markers here.
The highest Viewpoint gave us a grand view of the expansive Banaue Rice Terraces. It was misty when we came there that afternoon but it cleared for a few moments to show us the view. Despite the eye-sore sights of some houses on the far end, the terraces are still amazing to look at. We would have wanted to stay longer and enjoy the view but the wind chill was already biting through our clothes.
The Rice Terraces is not the only interesting site to see while here. Make sure to look around for the local colors as the people in the Cordilleras has quite a distinct character with their light brown skin and almond eyes. If you’re lucky, you might get to see some teens riding their wooden scooters going down the road slopes.
Banaue Rice Terraces is definitely a sight Filipinos should see even once in their lifetime. Many Filipinos may be familiar with the site through the 1000 peso bill but its different seeing them the terraces with your own eyes.
If you are interested to learn the basics of photography on the Beautiful backdrop of Banaue Rice Terraces while immersing with the Ifugao Culture, there is a Backpack Photography Workshop on March 19-21, 2010. Click here for the details.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.