Monday, December 18, 2017

The Ifugaos in Cordillera and the world renowned Rice Terraces

An exciting finale of my training in Clark, Pampanga on Tourism Marketing and Regional Branding was provided by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) with a trip to Northern Luzon featuring the world class rice terraces in Batad, municipality of Banaue. I was with my fellow tourism officers in that long 8-hour travel that started in the evening of December 13 and we arrived in our transient hotel in Banaue at around 7:00 in the morning on December 14.

Our itinerary was focused of an immersion tour in Batad, which is considered as an excellent introduction to the colourful culture and tradition of the Ifugaos in this part of the Philippine archipelago. A warm Ifugaonon welcome awaits, and the scenery of Batad Rice Terraces communicated us to an ultimately different setting made up of heritage, adrenalin and cultural diversity.

From Banaue Hotel we travelled to Batad for 1 hour. The TPB has made all the arrangement for us onward to making the tour very favourable to us. After a short hike we arrived in Batad and from there we were oriented on the significant lifestyles of the Ifugaos. The briefing area happens to be a vantage point to the rice terraces which struck us all with its grandeur. Although our visit was not the best of time because the multi-layered terraces were all empty and no rice as of yet as they just ended the harvesting season last November. I was informed by a resident in Batad that the palays harvested from the terraces are purely for home consumption only and not for selling purposes. They hardly earned enough from it especially since the farm partitions are owned individually by the locals which they acquired from their descendants.  

To some interesting context I was able to realize the hardships of the Ifugaos when they built the rice terraces some 2,000 years ago. By just merely looking at the structures you will learn that the ifugaos have exhibited the highest degree of initiatives and hard work given with barely nothing in terms of logistics and other resources.

After communing with the locals we trekked down to another fascinating Tapia Waterfalls located more or less 3 kilometers west of Batad. The waterfalls formed part of the adrenalin loop tour of Banaue. The vertical drop of the waterfalls is tall, with a fertile and green backdrop which reminded me of our very own Tudaya Falls. The waters coming from Tapia river is very cool, complimenting the already-cold weather of Batad all year round.

Batad is arguably one of the best destinations in the country. With the romantic cultural features of the Ifugao, the richness of its architectural heritage and the warmth of its community, it is easy to end up spending more than a day in Batad. The place might have adopted modern amenities due to the needs of the times but somehow it has not lost its charisma. The rice terraces, which is the central feature of Batad, serves as a living link to the adverse past of the Ifugaos to the contemporary period of hashtags and millennialism.

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