Yay! I was only in Banaue for a record 32 hours, which does not explain the ludicrously long 16-hour trip overland, both ways. But I did enjoy it in the shortest time possible. It made me appreciate once more one facet of our country’s cultural heritage and the greatness of our ancestors.
After being in the beaches the past few months, I was glad to be up in the mountains enjoying all the greenery and the cool air , which turned chilly sometimes. We stayed in the Banaue Hotel & Youth Hostel , a government-run hotel dating back to the Marcos era which is considered the best in the area.Even though the “dark” central lighting needs changing, our group enjoyed the priceless view of the mounains from the glass-encased resto. But I thought the best thing about the hotel was the hot shower.One really needs it as the climate in Banaue proved to be colder than Baguio.
For the traveler on a budget, Banaue has a number of lodges and inns, some of which boast of the resplendent view of the rice terraces. I am not sure about the hot shower though.
As expected, the Rice Terraces were amazing, especially if you consider that they are 2,000 years old and date back to prehistoric times.One wonders how the ancient Ifugaos mustered the will and the strength to build them. The glorious terraces carved out of the mountains seemed to be present everywhere we went on our vehicle and going up them to take a closer view requires ultra-strong knees. I hear the ones in Batad are really beautiful and requires a few hours of strenuous hiking. Definitely deserves a second visit.
On trips like these, observing village life can be as exciting as seeing the tourist spots. The people of Ifugao were infinitely warm and friendly. There are a number of old people dressed in their native costumes and it is expected that you give them a few pesos after taking their pictures. Nothing wrong really, that is how they earn their livelihood.
It is also customary for Ifugaos to chew betel nut (nga-nga or moma ) which turns orange-y in one’s mouth. Our guide said the nga-nga is their toothpaste, it also drives away tiredness and sleepiness. The streets were filled with red spots though because of all the spitting of the nga-nga – ewwww!
Ifugao wood carvings were simply exquisite! I can’t help but be impressed with the creativity and artisticity of this people. Saw a lot of wooden furnitures, fixtures and figurines that cost quite a lot in Manila but were a few times cheaper in the Banaue shops – if only I had the huge vehicle to transport them!