In our little apartment in Sta. Mesa we worked on our itinerary and agreed to initially go to Banaue and then Sagada. That time, we learned that the bus seats from Auto Bus Liner that would take you 10 hours from Manila to Banaue were already reserved until Maundy Thursday. So we had no choice but to break our sojourn into three.
Before midnight whilst Jan and Gil went to Cubao to reserve seats in Baliuag Transit, yours truly surfed the net and printed some travel literature about the places we were about to conquest.
Around 5.30p when we left the Baliuag bus depot and headed northbound. The lazy bus took us 7 long hours to Solano and from there we transferred to a jeep and took an hour ride to the town of Lagawe. From Ifugao’s capital we bravely ride on the top of the PUJ as it slithered on the zigzag, upward road to Banaue.
We reached the mountainous town of Banaue around 4pm and thanks to Congressmen Sol Chungalao we nestled on a modernized version of Ifugao native house for free. After asking the locals on the best tourists spot of the town, the group hired a PUJ for P1700 to take us in Banaue viewpoint and Batad saddle point.
Just before sunset, we find ourselves in awe beholding the world infamous rice terraces. In my mind I let out phrases like “Putang ina ang ganda!” to appreciate the postcard perfect view aesthetics of the Ifugao mountainscape.
With sprouting souvenir shops nearby, Banaue viewpoint reminded me of Baguio’s Mines View minus architectural viewing platform and crowded spaces. The remakable agricultural scenery was immensely a refreshing worth to see.
The next day we were up for an early start. The group left the town proper and sailed to Batad, one of Banaue's far flang barangays. After a hour long, rough ride on our hired ever reliable jeepney, we safely landed all smiling on Saddle point. Yes, from afar, it looks lie an outline of a horse saddle curved out on the mountain. We met Rolly our mountain guide and advised us that our lady companion Daye to take a walking stick beacause the winding trail in some part are sharp and steep. Indeed it wasThe trek to the interior villages of Batad challenged our physical prowess.
As we hiked down the sides of the mountains, we were greeted by picturesque highland landscape and its village nestle against a verdant backdrop and warm smiles from locals we met along the way. A hundred strides more and there it was---the amphitheater like Batad rice terraces. Seeing this panorama one would think the greatness of the Ifugao people creating such engineering marvels and preserving its cultural antiquity at its best. The village sits at the center of the terraces and everything seemed undoubtedly magical and perfect!
The high noon heat failed to cease anyone of us from walking downhill that eventually led us to the quite village surrounded by rice paddies. Our feet were happy walking on stones steps and the ancient “pilapil” of the rice paddies.
When we reached the village, the time seemed to move back as if were stranded during medieval times. Although some villagers are now using modern construction method, the presence of numerous native houses called the “faye” in the area mirrors the unique craftsmanship of the Ifugao in architecture. Whilst we were resting, one could smell the rural scent of this village sitting on an almost fable landscape.
Our last stop was at a 5 storey high Tappia waterfalls. Hidden on the range of mountains, it’s situated more than hour away from Batad viewpoint. Getting to this towering waterfall demands a lot of effort but the scenery is breathtaking and refreshing. We took a dip in its cool, deep and round pool and our bodies were revive to survive another journey.
We were back in saddle point before dusk. We were tired but very proud on our conquest.