“Did someone turn this wooden staff around?” I asked. There were only three of us in the museum. I can clearly remember when I first passed by this wooden staff with a carved bulul (wooden carved sculptures from Cordilleras) on top with a lock of hair that it was facing out towards the window. Going back to take a photos this time with my camera after going around, I was surprised it was looking towards the room this time. Ate Fe, our guide and care taker for the Museum of Cordillera Cultural Heritage said she did not as she was busy talking to my good friend Lagalog. I tried to move the base, it was heavy and not easy to budge. Reading the small description at the base, this wooden mahogany staff was carved by a tribal shaman in the 1970s. The bulul image inspired by the image of his wife and actual lock of hair used on the top. Gave me a little goosebumps. Was it watching over us?
I just realized it was almost three years when I last went to Banaue. This part of the Cordilleras has a special place in my travels being one of the first few places I visited in the Cordilleras. Ever since my first visit to Batad, I’ve gone back here more often than I could remember. But this time I was here to run my first 21k road-trail. Team Malaya organized a Banaue-Batad Marathon and I excitedly singed up. Since it was my first halfy I wanted to have a good rest before the race. When in Banaue, I often go straight to the towns of Batad or Bangaan but this time I have to stay in town. I looked through Agoda and glad to find Banaue Hotel listed there. A familiar sight for me since I’ve visited it before and explored the village behind it. I guess it was it’s about time I stay in this already an institution of an accommodation in the home of the 8th wonder of the world.
It was three days and 2 nights at the cool highlands of Ifugao. It was a mini Photo Adventure with the small number but we did give out what we promised which is adventure, immersion and tons of photographic opportunities. This was our first Backpack Photography for the year and we’re cooking something up for the last quarter of the year. In the meantime here’s our itinerary for the Banaue Photo Adventure last May and I’ve also added some Ifugao posts from previous weeks.
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.
It’s surprising that most of us were already awake by 5am in the morning without even having to call everyone up. We were worried the night before that the constant bamboo-like clacking sound from the mountain frogs outside Bangaan Family Inn would keep us awake but it seems the frogs drifted to sleep as well. Or was it the amusing ghost stories that challenged to sleep? But ghostly presence or not, we were shooting trees from a hill far away as the soothing calmness of the morning in Bangaan unfolds.
The Philippines is known for its numerous festivals and apparently, some towns even ‘created’ a Festival just to somehow draw in tourists to their place. Most of these popular festivities, which are usually posh, glamorous and heavily choreographed are in honor of the Sto Nino. But up in the highlands, there is another festival that is somehow underrated, yet after seeing it I think should also be one of the top festivals along the likes of Sinulog, Dinagyang or the Maskara Festival. The Imbayah Festival in Banaue, which happens every 3 years is a grand festivity highlighting the rich and colorful culture of the Ifugao and it’s 10th year was recently held last April 26-29, 2011.
Backpack Photography is back and this time we’re offering an exciting Photo Tour at the Ifugao Highlands. We’ll go beyond the usual Banaue – Batad route and go through the scenic backdoor route to Bangaan. Get ready to immerse into the Ifugao culture, walk the UNESCO World Heritage Rice Terraces paddies and most of all enjoy the magnificent views along the way. Backpack Photography will also be there to make sure you take home the most memorable photos during this trip. Join the Backpack Photography Banaue Photo Adventure on May 13-15, 2011.