More info about the cordillera

BANAUE VIEWPOINTS- As of today, more and more farmers are abandoning their rice fields and seek a better life in the city or outside the country. This is the reason why Batad is the main highlights of Banaue trip. I can imagine that the Banaue main rice terraces (Bocos village) are more spectacular before (70′s?).

BATAD- Road improvement is going as of today and it felt like around 50% is cemented. The Batad saddle point (jump off point for trekking) is about 14kms away from Banaue center. It will take more than 1 hour by jeep to get there.
Note that none of the travel agencies in Manila allow their vehicle to go to the Batad saddle point. Expect to hire a high-clearance Jeepney to go there. You can share with someone or you can try the public jeepney that ply once or twice a day which leave around 2pm only.

BONTOC & TINGLAYAN- Bontoc is a base for going to Tinglayan, a 4th class municipality in the province of Kalinga which is a base for trekking to the villages especially to Buscalan.

If you are visiting Buscalan only, the starting point of the trek is in Bugnay village proper and it took us 3.5 hours to get to Buscalan. You can hire a motor bike to bring you more than half way on a rocky road to shorten the trek. With proper planning, Bontoc straight to Buscalan is doable.

Some of the villages in Kalinga are far more authentic compared to Batad or other area in banaue. Some of tourist visit Buscalan, Butbut, Tulgao, Dananao and back to Tinglayan proper. The scenery was not that impressive for me… or maybe I have seen too much mountains and terraces!

If you are staying in Tinglayan, River Side Inn in Luplupa village is better than Sleeping Beauty Inn but you need to drag your luggage, cross a bridge and will take you 20 minutes to get there from the main road. Sleeping Beauty Inn is along the main road.

When you mention Buscalan to those people who know about the place, first thing that come to their mind is the marijuana plantation and secondly, the “last Kalinga tatoo artist”!

I’ve seen some local & foreign tourist staying there for weeks because of the later.

SAGADA- It was majestic 5 years ago when i first visited the place. As of today with the 90% completion of the road, it can be very crowded and annoying during peak season ( December 24 to Decmber 30 & Lenten season ). Most of the lodging in Sagada are Basic. Only one room has the set up of a 3 star hotel. Sorry, I can’t share that info. I need it badly for my visitors who’s more on amenities than basic.

BAGUIO CITY- This is more for local tourist. There are 3 sites that can be good for foreign…

Mt. Sto Thomas, this is Baguio’s highest peak, the one that offers a 360˚ degree view of Baguio City, La Union Province below and the South China Sea on the horizon. Most of the time you won’t see much but if the sky is clear, you’re in luck.

St. Louis Universitty Museum. What is unique about this place is you will actually play the bamboo musical instuments.

Bencab museum- he is a national artist and it is a good to go if you love painting, arts,etc.

PINATUBO TREK (part of north Luzon tour)- The 4×4 can now bring you to a jump off point were it only need 20 minutes hike to the crater (i’ll see you soon my love)!

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Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue center (Poblacion) is the transportation hub and a good base for exploring other rice terraces in the region. The town is basically a stretch of road along a mountain trail, within which there are other little networks of streets that go up and down the mountain that the town sits on. There is an assortment of budget guesthouse on the main strip perched over the ravine where a river runs through town and it is just brilliant eating lunch on the balcony.  The Banaue rice terraces ( Bocos village ) are within view of restaurant balconies in town.

Ohayami Trans is now the only bus service going directly from Manila to Banaue (as of June 2012). They have two buses leaving daily at night only. Day time is not recommended. It would only be so much trouble if you try to seek an alternative. For more details… http://www.ohayamitrans.com/

The best time to go is in between May and April, when it is least likely that the views will be obscured by low level clouds and the terraces are lush green. The peak season is the Christmas/New year period and the Easter week (holy week) and some guest houses may charge more over those two weeks – ask when you book.

Hotel Banaue is the only hotel type accommodation that you are going to find. The rooms are quite spacious but definitely not modern. The carpets show stains and wear but not enough to put you off. I find Sanafe lodging to be a better choice. The rooms are smaller but better than the hotel.

Stay away from People’s lodge and Greenview lodge… lots of annoying touts in and outside of their premises. 

I usually stay at Banaue Homestay… Quite cheap for my budget and the owner is a friend of mine. Spotless clean! Downside is sometime you can hear vehicles passing by. Not for foreign tourist…

All the restaurants in the town center are basically the same for me but most tourists find Greenview’s a better choice. Be aware that foods can sometime take an hour to be prepared. Order as soon as you enter.


SIGHT SEEING:

Tour guide
Finding your way to Batad is really a no-brainer, so you don’t need a guide, regardless of what you may have been told. If you are getting transport right up to the Saddle, then just follow the only path to the Village. If you are only touring Batad, there is no need to bring a guide all the way from Banaue. Use a Batad guide from the village… it cost  much cheaper.

Museaum
The Banaue Museum, within Banaue View Inn, has a range of artifacts including beads, pottery, baskets, woven materials and woodcraft, all of which depict various aspects of Ifugao history and material culture. It also has a fine collection of rare photographs.

Banaue Rice Terraces
Also called Pfanawor Rice Terraces can be seen from 5 Viewpoint with different angle, a popular photo spot which affords a perfect view of the terraces and the valley to the Poblacion. Ifugaos come here in full tribal regalia to pose for tourists (for a fee).

Tam-an Weaving Village
located 240 steps behind the Banaue Hotel swimming pool, is a “new” showcase village created especially for tourists. Weavers, blacksmiths and carvers work alongside stalls selling beads and wood carvings at reasonable prices. Ethnic dances and ritual music are performed for guests in the grounds outside the hotel. Several meters away is the original village.

Poitan Village
Boasts of several magnificent Ifugao huts on mountain slopes surrounded with protective stone walls (dating from tribal wars). There is a stone-lined pit where tonak (tribal elders) meet to discuss village affairs. A lot of Ifugao weaving, woodcarving and blacksmithing is done here and there is also an interesting, sacred and legendary 5-ft. high tuud (stone post) fenced by a cairn. Bulols (rice god images) can be seen and photographed for a fee. Nearby is a waterfall respected as a holy place because one of the fall’s rocks looks like a bul-ol. Ritual dances are also done here in their natural setting with prior arrangements at Banaue Hotel.

Guihob Spring Pools
Located 3 kms. from Banaue town, along the Mayoyao road, has a shaded natural pool backed by a small, cascading waterfall (a natural waterslide) and is a 5-min. hike from the bridge on the road. It is ideal for picnics and swimming.

Batad Rice Terraces
Located 16 kms. From the town, it is a stupendous amphitheater of stone and earth terraces sculpted out of twin coalescing spurs of a steep, wooded mountain from riverbed to summit with a tiny village at its base. They are said to be the highest of its kind in the world and the largest single agricultural project in the history of mankind. You can traverse 15 kms. of the distance by jeepney, alighting at the Saddle point, the start of the trail for Batad. Make arrangements with the driver for a return trip on that same day or the following day (if you are staying overnight).  The Batad can be visited as a day trip from Banaue, but it’s definitely worth staying overnight.  There are some 11 different guest houses and homestays to choose from. Accommodation is very basic backpacker type. Note that Batad is a tiny mountain village. There are no cars, minimal electricity, the shower is a big barrel of cold water with a scoop, and the toilets flush by you pouring water into them manually. If any of that bothers you, skip Batad.

Tappiya Waterfalls
A 30-min. to 1-hr. hike from Batad, across a river and upstream along the far bank is Tappiya Waterfalls, a beautiful and impressive 25-m. high cascading waterfall with an enormous natural pool for swimming. I suggest you get a local guide for touring the village and going to the waterfall. You don’t have to have one, but you will learn so much more about the village and the history of the place if you have a local guide.  It can be an arduous walk from the waterfall back up to the saddle, so don’t do it if you are not used to long uphill walking.

Banga-an Rice Terraces
Located 2 kms. further down the Mayoyao Rd. at the Km. 12 junction leading to Batad Rice Terraces. During the months of May and June, you may see a spectacle of a double rainbow in the sunset over the terraces from the Banga-an Viewpoint. For those who don’t want to trek to Batad, this is a good alternative place to stay overnight, and much nicer than staying in Banaue. The Guest house on the main road can be accessed by regular jeepneys. It is only a couple of kms past the Batad Junction.  The village is pretty, and the walk down to it is relatively easy.

Ducligan Warm Springs
About 6 kms. further on to Mayoyao, a 1.5-hr. hike and walking distance from Bangaan Rice Terraces is Ducligan Warm Springs, in Brgy. Ducligan. This sulfur hot spring is found on the Banaue-Ducligan riverbank adjacent to a deep pool, not far from the footbridge. It is a 30-min. tricycle ride from the town proper.


Out of this “Sight seeing/ things to do”… Banaue viewpoint, Batad and Tapiya falls is the only one worth it. Better save your energy for other interest such as Hapao terraces, Mayoyao terraces or visit Sagada town in Mountain Province.

If you want to contact me, here is my email address:

arnoldvsanchez@yahoo.com

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