UNESCO called it part of world heritage in 1995. All over the world, it is known as the eight wonder of the world. I am referring to the Banaue Rice Terraces which I visited in the third week of April, 2008. The rice terraces are still in its moment of grandeur. They are more awesome and majestic when they are viewed in actuality. It is as if the Filipino forefathers who built this ancient engineering marvel were finding a way to be closer to their gods in heaven. But no, these terraces were actually fashioned from the side of the mountain using their bare hands and with the help of stone tools in their attempt to become self-sufficient in rice and other sources of food. The rice terraces that I visited are located in Batad, Banaue. Other rice terraces are located in nearby mountains in places with names such as Bangaan, Mayoyao and Hapao. I traveled to Banaue from Baguio by bus. I left Baguio early at night and arrived in Banaue around four in the morning. My travel to Banaue was made out of curiousity. While staying in Baguio and keeping myself busy by taking endless walks around its parks,
I kept seeing these Banaue-bound buses parked in their bus terminal near Burnham Park. I decided one day, while walking around Burnham Park, to visit Banaue rice terraces by riding in one of these buses. The bus travels at night. I was apprehensive at first about traveling at night, thinking the road to Banaue is fraught with danger. I found out the highway linking Benguet (where Baguio is located) and Ifugao (the province where Banaue is located) is well paved. When the bus reached Banaue, it was still dark and I had to find a place to stay. I was too tired from the eight-hour ride. It was plain luck that one of the passengers of the bus owns a lodge in Banaue and he suggested to me, as we took a tricycle ride, that I stay there. When we arrived at his lodge, he instructed the desk clerk to find a room for me. It was not free though. The clerk, who looked sleepy, told me the rate was 900 pesos for a room with a single bed. Anyway, the room was clean, had a huge bed, a toilet and a shower. It was difficult to sleep though, since
the rooosters in Banaue are notorious for their noisy cackles very early in the morning. But the thrill of being in Banaue, home of the eight wonder of the world, trivialized whatever discomfort or inconvenience would get in the way. After a hearty breakfast in the same lodge, I had to find a guide to take me to the rice terraces. A guide recommended by a lodge employee told me, while we were in front of a colorful map of Banaue and its rice terraces on the wall of the restaurant, that he could take me to the rice terraces in Batad and then hike to Tappia waterfalls which is located below the rice terraces. According to the guide, going to Batad rice terraces and its waterfalls would cost me 1,800 pesos. Well, I had no choice. I couldn't go to this tourist spot by myself. I had no idea where to go in the first place. So I agreed on the price. The guide was a young college student who worked part-time as a tourist guide in Banaue. He studies criminology in a college in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya. I rode in his tricycle, where, for more than an hour,
we negotiated the bumpy road on our way to Batad. The road was strewn with small rocks and uneven pavement. In short, it was a tortuous ride. But when we finally arrived at the vista point in Batad, I had a full view of the rice terraces. I considered it a crowning achievement of my trip to my own country. I felt a prouder Filipino upon seeing these majestic-looking rice terraces. It had a liberating influence on me. More than ever, I embrace the belief that any country in the world like the Philippines can produce a population that are ingenious, intelligent and bright out of necessity, out of need and out of self-preservation. Our Filipino forefathers who built these terraces 2,000 years ago can attest to that.
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