Excerpt from Green Heritage: The Fight to Save the Terraces by Mari-an Santos, InFlight June-July 2011
“Sitting atop the Batad rice terraces near Banaue, about 3,700 feet above sea level, time seems to stand still. I sit and enjoy a steaming mug of local coffee. There is no phone signal, so mobiles are neither seen nor heard. For once, everything is quiet.
These so-called “stairways to heaven”, a Unesco world heritage site, were fashioned by hand by Ifugaos — mountain farmers and woodcarvers — at about the same time the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China were being constructed. They packed down the earth then built a wall around each paddy — or terrace — with rock and mud. And all this with the aid of nothing more than bare hands and wooden tools.
Batad is a remote village with no telephones and little electricity, where life has hardly changed since the Ifugao migrated here from Indonesia, bringing their prodigious engineering skills with them.”
“Authentic places to stay: In barangay Bangaan, located an hour’s jeepney ride from the Batad Saddle, is another set of beautiful, functional rice terraces. An old trail that took the same men and women who fashioned the rice terraces from Batad to Bangaan, is still accessible today. There is just one inn and restaurant, the Bangaan Family Inn (PhP300 per room). At an Ifugao house, we meet the rest of Manong Michael’s family, including his wife, Jocelyn.
Their two children help with the farming chores, including threshing and pounding the rice that they will eat the next day.
It takes less than an hour to trek to Bangaan’s Bubley, where there are makeshift stores that sell various native souvenir items including woven recycled bags made from potato chip wrappers. Bato Biyo has an ancient Ifugao house (PhP250 per night) where you can stay for the authentic tribal experience.”
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