Not many people really stay in Bangaan as it’s a place that’s either far or in between. The rice terraces of Batad usually overshadows that of Bangaan by coming in first geographically and If you are headed to Mayoayao, it’s a place you usually pass by on the road. But how did I came about it? Well you could say early in my traveling sojourns, I was with a bunch of crazy travelers with sadistic humor and chose to torture us then, newbie hikers, by going to a longer back trail route to Bangaan from Batad. But seriously, we were just yearning for more adventure then and took an off-the-beaten trail which promises a much rewarding experience.
I can clearly remember rain-showers that seemed to christen us new adventurers back in 2002. Being a first timer on the trail, It was an ordeal. Hiking through a slippery foot-wide trail alongside deep ravines wasn’t really comforting at first but when we got to the point where the panoramic view of the mountains under the mist of the rains, we just let our emotions take over and allow ourselves to be enraptured by the view. The second time I went back this trail was to accompany a friend in 2007. The trail, now familiar and the weather a lot more pleasant, I was able to appreciate the view in a good day.
During my recent ocular in Ifugao, I went back again on this trail for the third time, this time by my lonesome. Despite a local insisting to be my guide on the trail, I decided to go by myself since I’ve been there before. But lo, I got lost early on finding the right way. They introduced a new route behind Simon’s Inn which they said was easier but the trail was barred by a low fence so I was hesitant to cross at first for fear of trespassing until someone pointed that it was okay to go over.
The first part, which is the first hour of the hike in this back trail was really the most arduous part of the whole 3-4 hours trek. Crossing the initial terraces at the back of the Batad Trail also has the same vertigo inducing walk along paddies of high terraces on unbelievably narrow foot paths. I was able to breath a sigh of relief when I reached the bridge and got closer to the ground trail by the side of the mountains. But there were still yet the steep trails going up and down the forest trails passing by a stream until I reached the first rest stop.
This time around I was able to identify some of the not-usually-seen rice terraces scattered along the trail. After that first hour of the hike, the trail was more or less easy. An interchanging path by the side of mountains then the rice paddies with gradual up and down slope. Going by there in the morning, I thought the light would be a lot better in the afternoon. I took my time on the trail taking pictures knowing I’ll only capture a fraction of the true hiking experience here.
At the first stop, the Aghaw (not sure of the spelling, only how the kids pronounced it) Rice Terraces can be seen sandwiched between the mountains. Continuing on from the first rest stop, the Dotal (which means flower) Terraces will be a constant companion for a while. It is one of those good looking terraces I’m actually interested to visit up close. But maybe next time.
I think I was already halfway when I passed through a village they call Nagcor just beside a rice paddies. I saw a group of kids bathing on a stream. I wanted to take pictures of them but when they saw me, the first phrases they told me in English was “Give me candy! Give me money”, I just hid my camera, walked away and I didn’t give them any.
I remember this abandoned house with a rest stop very well which means I’m close to the road from Bangaan. In fact I could already see the road across and below is a beautiful elongated spread of terraces from Anaba. Shortly I finally reached the road. I started around 7:20am from Batad and arrived 10:50am on the main road of Bangaan where I emerged behind a waiting shed. It was a relief finally getting there. But it’s still a short walk up to Bangaan Family Inn. Jeeps coming from Mayaoyao do pass by here but I probably missed it so I walked again.
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.