The Ifugao Province is blessed with a culturally rich landscape, boasting five clusters of rice terraces inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1995 as Living Cultural Landscapes. These include the Batad and Baangaan Terraces in Banaue, the Mayoyao Rice Terraces, the Hungduan Rice Terraces, and the Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan. Among these, the Mayoyao Rice Terraces stand out for their exceptional preservation, owing to their remote location, resulting in minimal tourist activity and thus, reduced environmental impact. My long-awaited journey to Mayoyao was made possible thanks to the Tourism Promotions Board, as we joined their Community-Based Tourism workshops in Mayoyao.
Maligcong has become one of my favorite destinations in the Mountain Province in the recent years. I’ve cited five reasons on a previous post why one should go to Maligcong. Lately, I did notice that there’s already an influx of tourist discovering its quiet charm and natural wonder. Most of them were doing the short climb at Mt Kupapey to see the breathtaking landscape and the rice terraces at the slope of the mountains from the summit. Mt Kupapey is just one of the interesting places in Maligcong. My recent visits there were to do some exploration treks and hike, particularly the far flung village of Favarey and its surrounding area. This village amidst the vast field of rice terraces is called the “Old Town” by the locals as this is the original settlement of Maligcong.
The Cordilleras have many charming towns and villages nestled along hilly slopes high up the mountains amidst verdant forests. I simply enjoy just riding a public bus in the north, the ordinary non-airconditioned ones as the air passing through the window is fresh and cool enough for comfort. Often than not, country music blares through the speakers. As some Dolly Parton or Garth Brooks belt out some narrative tunes, I marvel at the passing scenery on the winding mountain road. Houses by the ridges, rice terraces, mountain gradients, and the thin mist or passing clouds lingering until they dissipate early in the morning. I am heading back to Maligcong, a village in Bontoc that’s slowly getting some curious look from Sagada and Banaue-bound travellers. Aside from being a side-trip, they are beginning to be a destination of their own. Here’s a few good reason why you should visit Maligcong now.
I remember spending my first sunrise of the year 2014 on top of Mt Kofafey. Basking in the view of a sea of clouds unraveling before my eyes to reveal the Maligcong Rice Terraces below was just a magical moment that opened up the year. I knew someday I promise to be back. A few months later I kept my promise. This time I brought along my friends with me see this destination in Cordilleras I have been raving about. And also to see the Maligcong Rice Terraces in its evergreen state.
It was the turn of the year and I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to be in a place where people don’t know me. I wanted to greet the first sunrise of the year in a new landscape. The past year was filled with mixed emotions, I was hoping that being away would bring things in a positive light and hopefully bring me back to the right direction. The first morning of 2014, I found myself already climbing the mountain slopes of Maligcong for Mt Kofafey under a starry night with my two companions who used to be just strangers a few days ago and now I’m entrusting my life to them.
This is where I bid goodbye to my friends Erick and Rocel. Coming from Kalinga. We headed back to Bontoc since the couple would be travelling back to Manila via Baguio. I, on the other hand would be staying in Bontoc to do further exploration. I got used to Bontoc mostly as a transit point to either Sagada, Kalinga or Banaue, but there’s this little upland town called Maligcong that’s only 30 minutes away from Bontoc that captured my curiosity. I heard of equally impressive rice terraces, scenic mountain hikes and cool clime.
Much has been written about Sagada already so I won’t go repeating much than to update some of the old photos I took of the place. For those who have endured the hours of travel to get to this fascinating mountain town, I found it rare that people won’t be enamored with its old-world feel, lush surroundings, cool clime, great food and especially interesting people. I’m actually grateful Karl Grobl decided to include Sagada in their itinerary since the Cordilleras really shows how rich and unique our culture is beyond the beaches we are known for.