Finally, I decided to conquer my fear and joined a Buscalan tour last year. It has always been a goal for me to have a tattoo and I want no one but Whang Od to ink me. It was seemingly impossible at first as I know how far and challenging it is to reach the small village of Buscalan in Kalinga. However, when I was invited by a group to join them in their Buscalan Tour which is also an outreach program, I did not hesitate at all and grab that opportunity.
My anticipation to visit the village of Buscalan and meeting Whang Od, the oldest tattoo artist in the country (and possibly in the world) was pretty much overwhelming but still undecided whether I’ll get inked or not. Well, not that I am afraid of the needles or the pain but I am diabetic so having a tattoo would be a big risk.
Anyway, it was really a long travel! If there is one word to describe our travel experience, it is nothing but “exhausting”. I think it took us almost 14 hours just to get to Buscalan from Manila. Not just long but rough and dizzying journey. I can’t remember hw many curves we had to pass through and how many nerve-wracking creeks and how many narrow roads we had to surpass just to reach the Buscalan drop off point.
The weather was also not really cooperating with us that time. We had quick stopovers in different provinces. We had our breakfast in Ifugao, then we had our lunch in Bontoc, Mountain Province before finally heading to Kalinga. The Ifugao stopover, however, was quite special as we had the chance to get a glimpse of the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. It was just a quick glimpse and a quick stop along the highway (and we didn’t even get it to the view point) but the view is absolutely mesmerizing.
Banaue Welcome Arch
I just can’t imagine seeing the actual rice terraces that I only used to see from our history textbooks in school. The Banaue Rice Terraces or the “hagdan-hagdan palayan” of Banaue is possibly one of the most fascinating manmade structure I have ever seen and I bet you guys will feel the same way. These terraces have been there for over 2,000 years. Situated 5000 feet above the sea level and covers over 4,000 square miles. What makes it even more fascinating is the fact that these stairway-like terraces were mostly built by hand (with probably the help of minimal equipment). They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. With such an impressive structure made by our ancestors and with such an amazing beauty, it is not really surprising why Banaue Rice Terraces is often dubbed as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
It would have been great if we got the chance to explore the terraces and witness them upclose but the nearest and the only possible thing we can do at that time is to appreciate the beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces from afar. We stopped by along the highway (just few meters away from the actual view point) and had some quick photo opportunities.
We were all greeted by those luscious green stairways. They said that if these steps were put end to end, it would encircle half the globe! Interestingly, I also learned that Banaue Rice Terraces are actually not under UNESCO Heritage Site contrary to what most people believed. The Banaue Rice Terraces are not part of the Rice Terraces of Philippine Cordilleras that are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is mainly because of the presence of many modern structures in the area (the clusters that are included in UNESCO Heritage list include those in Batad, Bangaan, Hungduan, Mayoyao Central and Nagacadan.
Despite failing to be part of the UNESCO Heritage Site , Banaue Rice Terraces were declared by the Philippine government as a National Cultural Treasure! Not to mention the site’s appearance in Philippine Twenty Peso banknote!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to explore Banaue but I will definitely explore and embrace these rice terraces in the future!
After taking as many photos as we can, we went back to the van and just when I thought that we are almost there, I found out that we are just half way done and we still have hours to spend before reaching Kalinga
I thought I was already immune with long travel after than exhausting 13 hours of travel to Ilocos (Check Exploring Ilocos series) but this journey was truly a physical and mental challenge haha. Those crazy curves and bumpy roads made me sick and nauseous. Not to mention that I had a toothache and I forgot to bring some pain relievers with me. So yeah, imagine all the pain I am feeling that day!
After long hours of travel, we headed to our next stop over! We stopped by at Bontoc, Mountain Province to have our lunch! I am going to post more of it in my next entry.
Things You Should Know About Banaue Rice Terraces
►Banaue Rice Terraces is situated 5000 ft above sea level encompassing 4,000 Square meters
►It is said that Banaue Rice Terraces was built by the ancestors of Indigenous people 2000 years ago
►It was declared as Philippine National Treasure under Ifugao Rice Terraces by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260 in 1973.
►Dubbed as the Eighth Wonder of the World
►NOT part of UNESCO World Heritage list
Where To Stay in Banaue, Ifugao
►There are many cheap homestays, lodges and transient houses in Banaue that you can stay comfortably. Here are some of the recommended place to check in:
► Batad Transient House for an instance offers an amazing atmosphere as it is situated at the center of Batad (with minor hiking required). They currently offer a total of 5 rooms complete with basic amenities. You are most likely to spend less than a thousand in any of their rooms (Check the rates here)
►Banaue Hotel – If you are looking for a cozy atmosphere with wondrous panorama from the balcony, the Banaue Hotel might suit you well. The hotel is complete with all living amenities including a swimming fool, a coffee shop and Most of all, FREE WIFI! (Check their rates here)
►Uyami’s Greenview Lodge – Uyami’s Greenview Lodge is located in Poblacion, Banaue, Ifugao. It offers a stunning rustic atmosphere with scenic breathtaking views to feast your eyes on. They offer spacious rooms including a Family room that can accommodate up to 6 members. (Check their rates here)
►Batad Top Viewpoint Homestay – Located at the Upper Village area of Batad, the homestay will surely offer you a visually striking view of the rice terraces. They offer modest yet comfy accommodations in very affordable rates (Check their rates here)
►You can check the list of hotels (transient house, inns, lodge and homestay) HERE. Don’t worry most of these accommodations do not require credit cards.
Check out my Journey To Buscalan Video below