The Banaue Rice Terraces

My first 2010 travel : Banaue  Rice Terraces, Ifugao.

Stunning view of the Rice Terraces.

Dubbed as the eight wonder of the world, Banaue is proud to have the Banaue Rice Terraces.  My usual travel to Banaue is always with my family during New Year’s day, but it is different this year, my siblings and my mum decided to postpone it to some future time.  Quite disappointed  but I am determined to go even if I’ll be going there all by myself. My mum would not allow me being alone ,  she is very particular of  my safety citing two reasons :  steep roads and Julia Campbell. In order to push through with my plans in  going there, I have to be accompanied by someone. So I asked Rowena to come around.

It took us one hour and forty five minutes to reach Banaue proper from Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya.  It’s sunday time, only few people were at the viewpoint, taking pictures. I noticed that most of the tourists came from different countries. Some Canadians, some Koreans, and some Europeans. It  is cold and the sun’s barely up, and I am hoping so hard that it shines the whole day. The sight of  green and brown, backdroped by supreme mountains of cordilleras are  marvel to the eyes.  Many times over, I am awed by Ifugao ingenuity, they, the ancient Ifugaos who were behind the idea of building these gigantic staircase to the sky. I could only imagine, how difficult it must have been to build this wonder, that we enjoy these days.

Some facts from Banaue Museum: The Ifugao rice terraces cover an area of nearly 40 square kilometers, and if the walls were placed end to end  they would reach more than halfway around the earth. Those of Banaue, Hapao, and Hungduan are among the oldest in Luzon. Archeological and historical studies indicate that it took the Ifugaos more that 2,000 years to build them. The stonewalled terraces of Ifugao are the highest best built and most extensive in the world.

I took my time to explore Banaue. My ways of  getting to know more about the town and its people are to visit their museums, market, and talking to locals too.

Ifugao Elder, she was kind enough to instruct me with directions in getting to Banaue Museum.  She also showed to me where to locate the actual spot of  the Banaue Terraces printed on the 1000 philippine peso bill.

Sunday is market day in Banaue, so locals flock the place to sell their products.  Inns and lodges are abundant in Poblacion proper where the market is located. Souvenir shops are numerous too. Traveling from one place to another is easy, as there are tricycles around the area which make one’s destination more accessible.  The transportation in getting around is inexpensive.  The tourist information center is also located at Poblacion proper; the services of local guides are for hire at reasonable amount.

Even Ifugao kids are cordial.  Bradley (left) and his brother are very hospitable. Trekking up and down from viewpoint is tiresome.  Thanks to these kids for welcoming me to their abode and to make use of their comfort room. While their parents are not around, Bradley takes care of their house and sells soda to tourists and locals.

Probably, these elders are second to Rice Terraces, as the most photographed in Banaue.  They are in their colorful native costumes, spotted at the viewpoint to entertain the visitors.  The Banaue people represents the oldest native folks in Ifugao. Did you know that Ifugao literally means ” People of the Earth” ?

Travelling is not complete without visiting Banaue museum. In order to have a better understanding of distinct Ifugao culture and traditions, I managed to pay visit to the museum. It is a two-storey building that houses a collection of old photos of  Banaue and its people, artifacts, jars, heirloom necklaces, spears, and native costumes.  It is a privately owned and entrance fee is 50 pesos per person. Note that taking photos are prohibited inside the museum, but the curator was kind enough to allow me to take some photos. Further, it is prohibited to touch the pieces displayed inside.  I wanted to take more shots inside but I do not want to abuse the graciousness extended to me. Banaue Museum

Banaue in Red. Red is the dominant color in this place not only in their costumes but in some walls, streets, and to some lips.  Betel nut chew is part of the everyday lives of Ifugaos , It has an indelible significance in their culture. Betel nut chew is a conglomeration of betel nut locally known as moma, lime powder, and  leaf locally known as gawed. When chewed, the mouth produces red saliva, due to chemical reaction. Spitting of moma everywhere is not allowed, there is an ordinance in the province which designates areas where to spit moma.Betel Nut Chew has a strong and spicy odor.

We headed to Banaue Hotel after some scenic viewing. The hotel has been in operation since 1974,  under the operation of Philippine Tourism Authority. Amazingly, the hotel is well maintained. We had our snacks and tastes of bold coffee at  Imbayah Restaurant. The hotel and restaurant exudes a log cabin ambiance. Staffs are very gracious.

Imbayah Restaurant, Banaue Hotel

I want more from my Banaue experiences. Next time, I will make a mandatory visit to Batad, Banaue to experience its grandeur too.

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