Some friends and colleagues still could not believe that I was able to accomplish the rigorous hiking that the mountains of Batad in Ifugao Province entails. Some were actually not surprised when they heard the hardships and learned that I was the crankiest, most ill-tempered and was the number one complainer among our group. As If my complaining was the highlight of our Batad adventure! Hahaha!
But people don’t realize that aside from the breathtaking sites, I was able to appreciate how lucky I am based on how my life has been going on compared to the simple folks living in Batad. That is why seeing locals especially the farmers who keeps the bizarre and phenomenal rice terraces by their bare hands humbles me. I may have been blessed more than these folks yet I have so much respect for these people. Batad folks may not own the possession that a modern human being enjoys now, yet they are the people who chose to live simple, enjoy simple and chose to maintain a beautiful earth wonder by their very own hands.
Kudos to the people of Batad! You definitely are one of a kind! Galing nyo grabe!
*thanks to Aiko and JB’s cameras for these photos…
Batad in Ifugao Province is not just its beautiful and majestic rice terraces, another awesome attraction and must-visit destination found in Batad is its strong, massive and breathtaking waterfalls known as Tappiya Falls.
Hidden in the lush green rainforest, a one-hour hike in the mountains of Batad will take you to the beautiful Tappiya Falls. Without a doubt, the turquoise fresh water and the perfect natural surroundings will fascinate every living soul who can luckily be able to reach it.
It was a tiring hike from our hotel in the secluded town of Batad to Tappiya Falls and back, especially those long flight of stairs at the edge of the mountain. But being able to reach and marvel at the actual Tappiya Falls after a grueling hike was something so rewarding already. All body aches, lung-bursting tiredness and anxiety whether to be able to finish the hike or not simply went away as soon as I dipped into the fresh cool water of Ifugao! Being able to see, smell, feel and conquer Tappiya Falls make me the proudest!
Majestic, magnanimous and magnificent are not enough descriptions for me to illustrate the beauty and splendor of Batad Rice Terraces located in Ifugao Province here in the Philippines. I have been to quite a number of beautiful places and I can confidently say that Batad Rice Terraces ranks very high for being one of the most breathtaking places on earth.
Elementary school lectures about its location, its structure and how the rice terraces were created eons of years ago by my Filipino forefathers were my only personal encounter in the past. And most of what was lectured during my childhood days was about the Banaue Rice Terraces, which is a totally different place.
Let me clarify though that Batad Rice Terraces is different and is not the more famous Banaue Rice Terraces. The latter is near downtown Banaue with more modern buildings and structures. Actually, a couple of tourists from Banaue Rice Terraces who just side tripped to Batad (whom some of us got to talk to) has attested that Batad was indeed more beautiful!
So let me brag that I was actually at a more stunning version! I could not believe that I was no longer just seeing photos and hearing it from lectures. I have upgraded because my physical being stepped on it and my very own eyes got to see the beauty, brilliance and grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Getting to Batad actually is already half the adventure. I have been to quite a lot of places but Batad seem to be the most remote place that I have been to. After a 10-hour bus ride from Manila to Banaue, me and my colleagues then had to travel for another 1 and a half hour via rickety and un-air-conditioned jeepney. And after alighting the jeepney, we then hiked by foot for another forty minutes (some say it was only twenty minutes but since I walk so sluggishly, it took me 40) for us to reach the tiny and secluded village of Batad. But all intense exhaustion, buckets of sweat and excruciating body aches were all be gone once I sawthe massive splendor of the amphitheater-like rice terraces and remarkable landscape of the mountains.
Some world attractions would not allow tourists to enter or step into their renowned site. Others would charge for an entrance fee otherwise you would just have to satisfy yourself by seeing it from afar. But for Batad Rice Terraces, tourists are allowed to step in, can mingle with the farmers and get through the muddy catwalks of the terraces for free! This made Batad Rice Terraces even more admirable compared to other sites in the world.
For those planning to get to gorgeous 2,000-year old Batad Rice Terraces, here are seven tips to ponder before getting there:
Bring lots of cash. No ATM around and no credit card payments accepted
There is no such thing as five star accommodation in Batad. Actually, all accommodations seem to look like half a star or no star at all. But the view and the people more than compensates for it. It’s more than 10 stars!
If you are the type who sweat buckets (like me), bring lots of shirts. Or if you are the type who would not mind smelling like a pig, then just bring 1 shirt per day of stay.
Batad is the best place to get away and take a short rest from the internet world. There literally is no signal in the area. No choice but to get off-line during the duration of your stay.
Bring Alaxan. Ibuprofen pain-relieving medicine was the most important piece of tablet that I popped as soon as I woke up after a dreamy night in Batad.
Do it while you’re young. Batad Rice Terraces is not for physically challenged nor the fainthearted. I actually still could not believe that I survived and was able to accomplish walking through those dizzying slim and slender catwalk portions of the terraces.
Pray! Pray that it won’t rain! Our tour guide told us that we were pretty lucky because the day before we arrived, it was raining all day. The terrain of course would be easier when it’s a bit dry compared to the muddy and slippery slopes of the mountain.
It’s Chinese New Year this coming Friday. To somehow get ready for the upcoming Chinese New Year, I and the 80-year old Nengkoy went to the world’s oldest Chinatown! Yeah, established in 1594, the Chinese-filled, Chinese-looking and Chinese-smelling Chinatown in Manila is the oldest.
And guess what? I have been on numerous times to Hong Kong, Taiwan and some portions of mainland China, but this is my first time to visit and traverse the street of Ongpin, the heart and center of Manila’s Chinatown.
Me, Nengkoy and my sisters proceeded to Chinatown not to greet the folks Kung Hei Fat Choi nor get there to immerse ourselves on some exotic Chinese food. We went there to optimize the potentials of our good fortune in the coming Year of the Dog. Believe it or not, we bought ourselves some oriental good luck charms and amulets.
It was such a fun experience when we reached and entered a store that sells various charms and amulets. A variety of glossy gleaming rocks and a cornucopia of gemstones, trinkets and ornaments that believed to dispel bad luck and will attract fortune, good health, peace of mind and even auspicious love life are all seem present in that store.
I got myself these…
The ritual of cleansing the purchased charms and putting a spell on it (as if switching on the potency of the trinkets) before it was handed over to us seem to enhance some authenticity to the powers of our chosen charms. It also adds up fun and amazement to the rare adventure we had at Ongpin Street.
Some would say that we may have made a fool of ourselves and we let ourselves be duped, tricked or conned by the sellers of these Chinese ornaments. But I have always believed that there must be something in these knickknacks that seem to influence human fate and providence. Nothing will be lost anyway if I am to practice or believe in these age-old Chinese tradition. Yet, what if it works? Hahaha!
But seriously, ,may it be effective or not, I know deep within my sensibilities that hard work, perseverance, Intelligence of the mind and the brightness of the heart are still the keys to good life and sought after fortune.
February for me is more eerie and scary as compared to the Halloween month of November. For me, it is more disturbing and unnerving as compared to the Chinese ghost month of August. Reason being? It’s the sinister month when Valentines is celebrated!
With much resilience and fortitude, I was able passed through more than four and a half decades of scary Valentines celebrations. And though my chance of finally celebrating it with a partner may have started to further dwindle, I would like to stay positive. I am staying positive because I believe that everybody deserves a great love story.
And while I STILL wait for the most spectacular Valentine’s Day ever, let me just post my photos from my previous SOLO travel in Uchisar, the highest point in Cappadocia, Turkey.
And I hope that my upcoming love life shall be as spectacular, historic and as stunning as that of the Uchisar Castle of Turkey!
Balang araw! Hu yu kayo sa kin pag nagkataon! Hahaha!
Prior to doing an out-of-the-country solo journey, solo travel for me is tantamount to fear, isolation, risky, worry and boredom.
Though these concepts were at the back of my mind, my journey in Turkey was actually my third solo travel abroad. And one highlight of this Turkish adventure was my visit to the Turkish cotton cloud known as Pamukkale.
It has been a month yet I could still recall the exhilaration, joy and awe by the beauty and magnificence of Pamukkale. This huge and weird looking and shimmering show-white limestones along the mountain slopes are are such a view to behold.
And while I explore the rugged terrain on what Turkish believed to be solidified cotton and dip my feet to the warm calcium-rich spring water that drips slowly to the mountainside, I could hardly believe I was able to get there. This made me realize that solo travel for me now is synonymous to independence, freedom, inventiveness, self-determination, creativity, self-indulgence and boldness!
Prior to leaving for a fifteen-day Turkey adventure, there is one Philippine travel destination that I and some colleagues have been to which I failed to feature and write about. Three reasons for my failure of writing about this Nueva Ecija place is because (a) I was too pre-occupied about my upcoming Turkey journey; (b) I was too lazy; and, (c) I’ve gone selfish and don’t want to share the beauty and splendor of Minalungao National Park.
I had the least expectations about my going to Minalungao. It is because I’ve never heard about this place in the first place. And since it is not a popular Philippine destination, the site must be some mediocre place located in Nueva Ecija. I was also not expecting much because the scale of planning compared to the amount of planning I have to do with my out-of-the-country planning was way way different. Lastly, I had the least anticipations because I know quite a number of friends and colleagues who hailed from Nueva Ecija yet none of them seem to recommend visiting Minalungao.
But as soon as we reached this national park and I alighted from our rented van, my jaw dropped! I was so surprised to find out that Minalungao was such a Philippine hidden gem. Also, what is so distinct about the place is that only locals of Nueva Ecija province seem to be around. There seem to be very few tourists from Manila or even from abroad.
Minalungao is a protected national park considered to be one of the very few remaining natural environments that is close to Manila. This ecotourist destination offers breath-taking scenery, easy hiking trails, green pristine river, inimitable rock formations and explorable natural caves.
Let my photos speak for Minalungao…
After exploring what Minalungao and while we were heading to a cheap hotel in Nueva Ecija city center to stay overnight, it was the time I realized why people of Nueva Ecija seem to not recommend it. Maybe it is because it is so beautiful, Nueva Ecija-ns want Minalungao to be a secret and be a well-kept natural environment. People of Nueva Ecija wants to keep it for themselves because they don’t want this beautiful nature and physical world phenomena to be spoiled, be blemished and be destroyed by unmindful, insensible and ill-mannered tourists.
That is why after reading this, keep it to yourself. You can visit Minalungao (of course) but never tell anyone about it. Keep it at its status, that is, a secret natural environmental gem.