“Why do you have to go back here? The trail is exhausting!”, a participant exclaimed while we were hiking from the Saddle to Batad proper learning that it would be my fifth time to come here. While I laughed it out as I carefully navigated through a rocky downhill part of the trail, I was thinking at the back of my mind that there are places really worth going back to. Places you have to work hard for and feel rewarded once you reach it. Batad is still one of those magnificent places and I never get tired looking at.
The adventure started when Peach and Divi dared to ride top-load of our jeep on our way to the Batad saddle. I could hear the incessant screams and laughter as we pass by bumpy roads. They did go back inside the jeep after we made a stop at the famous Hanging House by the road side where one could see the nice looking Dalican Terraces. It was also an impromptu photo shoot as the family and kids were willing photo subjects for us to enjoy.
Maybe it was our easy chit-chats or Divi’s sudden burst of a song that distracted us from the trail, the trek from the Saddle to Batad was quicker than I anticipated. And as we go closer to our Inn, the beauty of the terraces started showing itself. It was until the vista opened up at the Information booth that I could hear the many shutter clicks while I write our names on the registration list.
Hillside Inn would be our home for the night. I chose this place since it has one of the better unobstructed view of the Rice Terraces. I also noticed the improvements since the first time I stayed here like the additional bathroom and toilets on each floor. Lunch was already waiting for us when we came. Very efficient and thanks to advance orders prior the trip.
The trek to the Tappia Waterfalls was an open option but everyone took up the challenge despite our warning for a difficult trek along the terraces. There are guides to help us out and this time we would be taken on a different trail. The group was split into half, some went on to the safer trail which passes through the mid part of the terraces which I was also familiar. The rest went up to a higher vantage point ending to a junction where a flight of stairs leads to Cambulo and also the falls.
Like the other participants, it’s also a first for me to try this upper trail. And even if I have passed through this age-old terraces numerous times, there was a moment there where I almost panicked and vertigo struck as soon as I realized my position. From the height and also the soft narrow pathways ahead of me, I recomposed myself and took it a step at a time and finally reached our highest point.
This must have been the best I’ve seen of Batad Terraces. Beautiful lighting against the layers of green against the bright blue sky. It was so vibrant and alive that the recent perilous trek along the terraces just vanished all of a sudden. We regrouped at the hut which is the jump-off for the Tappia Falls.
I knew the arduous trek to the falls would really test everyone’s endurance. The rugged mountain peaks and the thin line of trail seen on the horizon is taunting but everyone’s spirit was alive and daring. Our participant braved more than a hundred steps along with the rising cost of soda and power drinks as we grew closer to the falls and its refreshing sight was enough to sooth our senses. Clicking away and some even enjoying the cool waters, I was relieved everyone made it this far.
We faced the same challenge on our way back with a splash of rain towards the end. There was no power in Batad but thank god the cool weather was enough to put as to slumber. But before that we took relieve from painkillers, liniments and a relaxing massage. It was a long day 1 of our Backpack Photography Photo Adventure but I’m sure the memory of this experience would last longer even after the muscle soreness has gone.
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.