THE PRIDE AND GLORY OF THE NORTH
Words and Photos by Nicole C. Batac
AS FAMOUS AS THE PHILIPPINES IS FOR SOME OF ITS PRISTINE AND BREATHTAKING BEACHES, up north our country has another astounding wonder known as the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras—a living cultural landscape worthy of being called a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Center back in 1995.
The Rice Terraces are divided into five clusters: the Nagacadan terrace cluster in the municipality of Kiangan, the Hungduan terrace cluster, the Mayoyao terrace cluster, and the Bangaan and Batad terrace clusters both under the municipality of Banaue.
Built over 2,000 years ago, the Ifugao Province rice fields have been created to follow the contours of the mountains. Its secrets have been passed on from generation to generation with its stone and mud walls paired with an intricate irrigation and farming system. Based on archaeological evidence, the methods used in the region remain virtually unchanged to this day.
Visiting at least one of the clusters is a must. I was blessed enough to get up close and personal (quite literally) with the Batad Rice Terraces last summer. The experience is something I’d talk about in the years to come and I encourage people to try it out for themselves.
There are buses around the metro that ply the Manila-Banaue route on a regular basis. Most of them leave at night. Make sure you’re prepared for the long 8 to 10-hour ride.
Once in Banaue, you’ll have to hire a jeepney or van (or have a tour guide coordinate this for you) to take you on an hour’s ride through rough roads that provide you a scenic view of the area.