Ifugao is home to rice terraces often called the Eighth Wonder of the World. These terraces covered 400 square kilometers and probably more. These staggering architectural feat can be found in Northern Luzon some 7 hours from Manila. It is a landlocked mountainous region bordered by Benguet, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Mountain Province. Thus, the word Ifugao was said to have been derived from i-pugo meaning "i" (people) + "pugo" (hill) = people of the hill or people from the mountains. Also, we say Ifugao or ipugaw means mortal or person.
These terraces looked like steps made for giants. It is said that they were built 2000 years ago or later making it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage. There are different terraces scattered throughout the province. Batad and Bangaan Rice Terraces are located in Banaue. They also have Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Mayoyao, Hungduan Rice Terraces in Hungduan and Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan. These particularly four locations were collectively called as Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.
For now, let us take a quick tour to Batad Rice Terraces and Tappiya Waterfalls in Banaue, Ifugao.
Coming from the north, Ifugao is about a 2-hour travel by bus from Bontoc, Mountain Province's capital. There are early trips by van or bus. We took the bus (7:00 a.m. trip). Ordinary buses are only available and no VIP buses. Buses are located beside the Cathedral of All Saints.
There are only few passengers this early so you can sit anywhere you want and where you can get comfortable. It was a scenic route and a chilling trip as the road zigzags along the mountain side where sweet smell of pines and early morning fog blankets most of the way.
Here is a clip on our way out of Mountain Province.
You feel closer to heaven as clouds keep covering the tops of the mountains. The road to Ifugao cut through mossy forests. It is a biting cold during the month of January so bring something to keep you warm.
Streams of clear water can be seen along the way. While they are beautiful to watch, they also can be destructive without proper channel to follow because they can cause erosion.
This is the bus stop located at the border between Mountain Province and Ifugao. There are a handful of cafes/restaurants here. Our bus took at least 20 minutes stop here before moving on. Mostly highland vegetables are being sold here as well for those who wish to bring some home.
From here on, it is about an hour to Banaue. We get to pass by through mossy forests still. The road to Ifugao is paved. Construction and repair is constant brought about by land erosion. Of note, the highest highway system in the Philippines is now crowned to Ifugao, knocking it down from Atok, Benguet.
Below is a glimpse of Banaue Rice Terraces. This is not included in the UNESCO list due to how congested the area is.
A lot of structures and houses crowd the place, very noticeable along the highway where locals make the best of what is available to build a structure.
These terraces are still part of the National Cultural Treasure. In case you did not know, a scene from Avengers: Infinity Wars was shot here.
Upon arrival, we stopped at the ticketing booth of bus going to Baguio. Ohayami Trans has only one schedule and that is every 5:30 p.m. There are other buses/vans/jeepneys that you can choose to take but it will only take you to Nueva Vizcaya where you can then take a bus going to Baguio or Manila.
Included in the tour package is a tricycle ride or jeepney depending how many you are which will then bring you to and from Batad.
You can also opt to take public jeepneys plying Banaue-Batad. In Batad, there are lots of homestays and inns that you can check in if you decide to stay overnight. Along the way are signboards/posters of these inns advertising what they can offer. Mind you, there are even inns at the heart of the Batad Rice Terraces. How cool is that!
Batad Rice Terraces
Upon reaching this spot, you have to register yet again and pay the necessary fees. Some tourists who come here don't register at the tourism office in Banaue so it is understandable that you have to register here.
Souvenirs are sold here and also in stores along the way to the rice terraces and Tappia Falls.
These Ifugao terraces were built on steep slopes, following the contour of the land. These are built using mud and stones. Visiting this place amazes you how the Ifugaos build such an intricate farming and irrigation system.
The terraces walls serve as footpath as well but built in a way that it is a one-way path. Here you will find there is discipline, patience and consideration to others. You cannot overtake the person ahead of you for you might fall to the paddy beside you or down below. You have to give way to those who are already on the path before you.
These paths also serves as a social engagement as you exchange words and greetings to the people that you meet.
You can stop right here if you are not the hiking type and just enjoy the view. The best time to come here are the months of June or July onwards because it is the planting season but also the rainy season. Although there are just a handful of patches of greens on these terraces, it is still a wonder to behold.
Here are a few more clips of Batad Rice Terraces.
There are lots of hikers we met along the way. According to our guide, some of these have been hiking for days around Ifugao and also traveling nearby provinces. Our guide just had a three-day trek with a group of people and after this tour with us he will be preparing for another one.
An interesting news is circulating now where a publisher said that these terraces were made by the Chinese. Read here. There could be truth in that. According to the historical core at the Tourism Office, migrants from South China brought the culture of terrace building technique to the Philippines, Japan, Java, and other islands. Maybe the first settlers here have Chinese blood in them.
It's now time to go further down Batad to Tappiya Falls.
A couple of hours on foot down Batad Rice Terraces is a magnificent waterfalls. Depending on your speed, you can reach it sooner or later. There is a concrete foot path which is also a one-way path that leads you to this jewel.
The way down is the easy part. From the start of our tour, I have already been thinking how it would be going up.
It was worth the hike to Tappiya Falls. It is such a majestic one. You can see and feel the power. There are those who did not hesitate to take a swim or a dip int the water. Some of us just enjoyed the show. There were lots of photography enthusiasts also who were busy taking photos of the flora and fauna and whatever these shutterbugs want to picture.
I am in awe just by visiting these two places. These are just a tiny fraction of what Ifugao can offer. If you come visit Ifugao, it is a must to stay more than just a day.
We then had our late lunch in Batad in one of the homes cum restaurants overlooking the rice terraces. The meal was delicious! Perfect way to end our tour. If I am to come back here, I would want to experience checking in to one of the inns in Batad and wake up to the view of the terraces.
Going back to Banaue town center, there are lots of available inns that you can freshen up for just a minimal fee. Hot showers are available. We chose the one near the tourism office. We took a shower, had a meal and rested before heading to our bus to take us back home.
If you want a quick tour of Ifugao, you can take the Batad Rice Terraces and Tappiyah Falls. You can get in and get out in just a day. Remember, be a responsible tourist always.
Banaue, Ifugao d3scr