Nothing can beat the feeling of traveling into one’s own country. The more we explore the different regions of the Philippines, the more we will get to realize how blessed our country is. Situated in northern Philippines, the Ifugao Rice Terraces are rice paddies that were carved into the mountains by the ancestors of the Ifugao people some 2000 years ago. Located 332 km. north of Manila, I was quite lucky to have visited this faraway land four years ago (And I’m also lucky for still recovering the photos from my old pc ). We drove all the way from Laguna to Banaue which took almost 11 hours. It was a very long trip indeed but everything was worth it when we finally saw the sign that says, “Welcome to Banaue!” Yey!
Banaue is a municipality in Ifugao province. The place is well known for its legendary rice terraces. It is also home to the Ifugao people, one of the indigenous groups in northern Philippines. On our first day in Banaue we just took a rest to recharge our energy for the long trekking that’s awaiting for us the next day. We woke up early the next morning and met up with our tour guide. We rented a jeepney to bring us to Batad. One of things that surprised me when coming here was that there are actually several rice terraces sites. I thought before that there was only one rice terraces which is the well known Banaue Rice Terraces. However, upon coming here I found out that there are several rice terraces sites and the most beautiful among them is Batad Rice Terraces. Our tour guide told us that we needed to do some trekking to reach Batad. Little did I know, that it would be one of the most challenging treks I have ever tried in my life.
The trek down to the Batad rice terraces was exhausting but still manageable because it’s downhill. On the way to Batad village we stopped by a store to have some drinks and take a rest for a while. We also had a chitchat with the store owner and the manong was talking with us in English. It looked like he’s even more fluent in English than in Tagalog. The Ifugao people are know to be good English speakers.
We continued our trek down to the Ifugao village afterwards. While walking, I remember that it’s quite funny because when I was a child, I thought that the rice terraces or hagdan-hagdang palayan as we call it in Filipino, were literally similar to stairs that you need to climb to reach the top. Because whenever I see it in pictures, it looks like a stair that you can step on. It was not until my elementary school teacher clarified that it’s not really like a stair which you can step on, because it’s so huge. She explained that you could only walk on the edge of the rice paddies. Hence, I had been fascinated with the rice terraces ever since I was young. It was such a great fulfillment to finally walk on these rice paddies.
The Ifugao village in Batad is where you can have a closer view of the Batad rice terraces. You can also meet the Ifugao tribe who are the native inhabitants of this place. There are also accommodations in the village for travelers who wish to stay here overnight.
The Batad rice terraces is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thinking about all the effort the Ifugao people had put in to create this magnificent place, I knew this place deserves such a notable recognition. I was so stunned by the beauty of the rice terraces that I could almost imagine how wonderful it is to live here and wake up with this view every morning. Afterwards, our guide told us that there is a beautiful waterfall down the river known as Tappia Falls. I was hesitant to go because I was already tired but for the sake of making the most out of my stay here, I decided to join them.
The path to Tappia falls was a bit scary. The path was a little narrow so I got a little paranoid that I might fall off the cliff anytime. So I tried to hold on to the rocks firmly while going down the river. Fortunately, the trek down to the falls was all worth it, especially when you know that there’s a beautiful view waiting for you down there.
We took a dip in the water as we couldn’t resist it. We also saw our tour guide swimming in the falls. Pero sa totoo lang sobrang lamig nung tubig . We went back to the Ifugao village afterwards. We needed to start hiking back to the starting point because the driver of the jeepney that we rented would only wait for us until 5:00pm. We only stayed for one day in Batad which was a big mistake for us. We should have stayed overnight in Batad especially after knowing that we could get an accommodation in the village for as low as Php 200 (4.65 USD) per room. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that before when we went there. Moreover, we didn’t know that the hike back to the jump off point would be that hard. Trekking down to the Batad rice terraces was quite a breeze but making our trek back up was like a torture. I could feel that my knees were giving up at any moment. My dad was literally pushing my mom just to encourage her to continue hiking up.
Thankfully, we all made it back to the top by 6pm and we were really grateful because the jeepney driver still waited for us. I was very tired and exhausted. That’s why I advise anyone who’s going to Batad that if you are not used to hiking, it’ll be better if you will stay overnight in Batad village and just continue your trek back up the next day. We immediately dozed off after coming back to our guesthouse. The next day we visited the Banaue rice terraces.
Hailed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by most Filipinos, the Banaue rice terraces is the most well-known among the several rice terraces sites in the Philippines. However, contrary to what most people think, it’s not included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites (source from here). The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras that were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site only include the Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Rice Terraces, Mayoyao Rice Terraces, Hungduan Rice Terraces and Nagacadan Rice Terraces.
The Rice Terraces of the Philippines Cordilleras were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 but they were also declared as a World Heritage Site in Danger in 2001. This is due to deforestation and climate change that devastate the rice terraces. In addition, the younger generations of Ifugaos who now have more access to media and education already prefer working in big cities than doing traditional farming. In this light, I really encourage everyone to come and see the rice terraces while they are still well maintained. Because we are not certain what will happen to them in the years to come.
Batad Rice Terraces
All the pictures were taken during my trip to Banaue in 2007