Banawe: Truly a Wonder
by Danny Tariman
This is the 6th and final leg of our 5-day North Luzon Adventure.
Going north and passing by the western side, we had been to the beaches of La Union, seen the turn-of-the-century Vigan, visited the old churches of Laoag, then headed to the pristine beach of Pagudpod. Driving back to south via the eastern side of Luzon, we toured Tuguegarao and the Callao Cave then drove down to Iligan City in Isabela province for our overnight rest.
We woke up early at the roomiest hotel family room we had for this tour. After breakfast, we hit the road again and headed to Ifugao Province, the home of the world-famous Banawe Rice Terraces.
It was an all uphill drive from the plains of Isabela. Thanks to our very reliable beast – our Isuzu Crosswind. As we climb the mountains, I can hear the “ohs” and the “ahs” of my family in amazement of the beautiful scenery along the way. Indeed, looking from the sides of my eyes, the view is simply awesome!
We reached the terraces after about two-and-a-half hour drive from Iligan City. Along the way, we hitched-ride two nuns who were waiting for a ride in the town’s sidewalk. We asked if it was possible for us to proceed to Sagada (oh, the beautiful Sagada! Another place to go!) but we were advised not to go due to some landslides at the time. We heeded them, and so we just toured the places of interest within the Banawe valley.
Our first stop was the viewing deck which is an uphill drive to about two-thirds of the mountain’s height. From this vantage point, you can see the terraces. Panning your sight from left to right, indeed the rice fields are a wonder-work of the ancient people who carved it out from the mountains.
There were a few stalls selling souvenir items. Some would even advise us to go to another ‘terraces’ where the rice fields are more verdant green. We didn’t opt to go because it is a bit of a distance from the roadside; we need to hike for about 30 minutes, we were told.
After some picture-taking, we drove up some more leading to a ‘village’ at the top of the mountain. Yes, it was a hair-raising drive for me, as I steer our vehicle along a narrow road with a very deep and steep ravine on one side. But it was worth the trip. We got much better view, saw so many Ifugao handicrafts, some of them vintage items that were handed from past generations. It was a ‘cultural’ visit in as much as it was a ‘viewing’ tour.
Lastly, we headed back to Banawe town proper to have our lunch in its only deluxe hotel – the Terraces View Hotel. We chose the sit next to the window to have a much better perspective of the rice terraces. A really nice place to rest and to eat meals – and perhaps for a night stay.
After our meals, we took our car seats again, and drove back to Manila. Wow, an experience of a lifetime. The scene that I can only see in postcards and in magazines, finally came to life right before my very eyes! Thank You LORD for this wonderful North Luzon Adventure. Genuinely amazing!