WARNING: Very loooong intro for this post 🙂
I have always been wanting to go and see the famous rice terraces of Banaue. I remember staring at the black and white picture of it on my Sibika at Kultura book when I was in primary school. I told myself that I will go and walk on those rice paddies some day. Years passed… I finished my secondary schooling, got my degree in tertiary education, acquired a job and somehow forgot about Banaue.
February 2010, the very first time I filled up my backpack with clothes good for 3 days as my friends and I were bound to Sagada. I wasn’t a fan of the internet back then, so I didn’t know what to expect in our travel. That’s why I felt I was in heaven when we were on that bus passing through the Halsema Highway. I got a little scared when I saw we were almost at the edge of the cliff but my fear turned into amusement when I peeked at the window and saw the mountains, clouds, green trees and the rice terraces all at the same time! One of my friends immediately texted her mother and said she saw the famous Banaue rice terraces. We all laughed at her, even the other passengers. We told her that we were in Mountain Province and not in Ifugao and those terraces were not the Banaue’s. Anyway, that event reminded me of my childhood dream — to see the 8th Wonder of the World. So I told myself that the next time I go back to Sagada, I will take the Banaue route.
That was 2010, and since then, I’ve been visiting Sagada every year, but not once was I able to take the Banaue route. That’s why I was so happy when the President declared April 28 as holiday due to ASEAN Summit. I was supposed to leave Manila on the night of the 29th to go back to Sagada and join my Cebu-based friend and her friends in the tour. But on the morning of the 28th, the spontaneous side of me told me to pack my clothes and go to my ultimate childhood dream destination – Banaue. I already have a Victory Liner ticket bound for Baguio, but it was dated 04/29. I can still use it on the 28th but I had to fall in the chance passengers’ line to get a seat, and that’s what I did. It took me almost 3 hours to get a seat. And then from Baguio, I took the 9PM Ohayami bus bound for Banaue. Reservation has to be made to secure a seat. Advance payment was also required. I called their Baguio contact number and asked for a reservation. The man who answered said I need to pay in advance to secure a ticket. I said that it won’t be possible as I was already on the bus going to Baguio, Good thing he still reserved the seat for me. He just reminded me to be at the terminal before 9PM or else, he will give the ticket to other passenger. Luckily, I arrived in Baguio 10 minutes before 9PM. If you are coming from Manila, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this route. It took me hours to get a seat in the bus terminal bound to Baguio, almost 8 hours to reach Baguio (due to traffic in Manila and by road widening in some provinces) and almost 10 hours to reach Banaue (caused by road widening). If only I don’t have that reservation in Victory Liner (which was already paid), I would have taken the direct trip from Manila to Banaue. But nonetheless, I enjoyed that looooong trip. I had my much needed sleep! 😀
Upon reaching Banaue Terminal, I was approached by some drivers offering tour to Batad but I politely declined their offer. My plan was to check in at a homestay in Banaue Poblacion first before I go to Batad. One van driver was persistent though, I forgot his name so let’s just call him Kuya. He offered to bring me to Batad for 1,000 pesos, that is the same price as renting a tricycle. That could have been a cheap deal, but since I was alone, I couldn’t afford his offer. And I was also thinking that I still have to pay for the guide in Batad. So again, I rejected his offer and with a heavy heart, I told myself I will skip Batad for now. But Kuya said he had other guests staying in a hostel in Poblacion and told me that he will talk to those guests and ask them if I can squeeze in to share the cost. I agreed this time. He even helped me find an inn where I could stay for one night. He was such a big help! He told me he would call me once the group is ready. But after a few minutes, he called and told me the group he mentioned had a change of plan and won’t be going to Batad on that day. So, again, I just accepted the fact that I have to skip Batad tour. I just went out of my room and ordered breakfast in the inn’s kitchen.
While I was eating, I heard an announcement in the street. I didn’t understand it as it was broadcasted in their local dialect. Tita Mildred, the landlady, was kind enough to interpret it. She said that the owners of the cars parked outside were asked to move their vehicle in another area, specially those that were parked in the area where the program will be held. Coincidentally, the town was celebrating their Imbayah Festival and a parade and program was scheduled on that day. Wow! My emotion went from being low (as I have to skip Batad) to a little higher (cause I will be able to experience and witness a part of their culture).
At 12:00 PM, while I was still watching the program, I recieved a call from Kuya telling me he had another group going to Batad and they’ll be staying there for a night. They let me join their group, yehey! I don’t need to skip Batad!
The next day, together with the same group I was with in Batad, we rented Kuya’s van to bring us to Sagada. We stopped by the viewing deck and took photos, lots of photos… There were at least three viewing points where tourists can take pictures with the terraces as their background.
That weekend, I was able to check one of the three top items on my list. Indeed, you have to do something to turn your dreams into reality.
PS. I hope I didn’t bore you with my super long introduction. I just felt like I have to tell that story. 🙂