The Cordilleras’ Rice Terraces

The rice terraces up north have always been part of my bucket list. And they have been quite elusive to me. Might sound crazy that I flew all the way from Cebu for a 13-hour land trip – and fly back right after – but after two failed attempts in the past year, I was just more determined to go.

The itinerary was jampacked – in 2 days, we covered the Batad, Maligcong and Banaue rice terraces, plus Tappia falls and a sunrise hike up Mt. Kupapey.

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We reached Banaue town proper, had breakfast and proceeded to Batad. Much of the road from the saddle point has been paved, so the hike wasn’t as long as it used to be. Harvest season has come and gone and the rice paddies were a (still beautiful) brown color.

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Another 40-minute hike took us to Tappiyah falls. I initially planned not to swim but the water was so inviting!

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We headed back and had late lunch at Hillside Inn. We toploaded to the saddle where our rented van was waiting. It was another 3-hour ride to Bontoc, but we hardly slept and had games in the van instead. I love how easy it was to get along with everyone else, how everyone was inspiring in their own way. Good times.

It was already dark when we reached Ate Rowena’s homestay in Bontoc. The place was homey and warm dinner (and we only had to pay Php 75!) greeted us. Socials with the usual bonfire and alcohol was fun, but it was lights out at 10pm so we’d be up by 3am.

We started the trek at 4am. The stars were bright and visible, showing us the way. The trail was moderately easy and short, only taking an hour. We settled at the peak facing the Maligcong rice terraces, waiting for the sun to rise. We were the only ones in the summit.

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We didnt get a sea of clouds (it didnt rain last night), but the view was spectacular. Especially when the sun came out and produced a play of colors. Maligcong is definitely my favorite set of rice terraces. It’s a hidden treasure. I hope it remains to be far from commercialization.

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We all thought that we were going to head back to the homestay afterwards, but we took a different route and passed through the actual rice terraces!

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I was definitely not prepared for the heat, but the view made the hike so much bearable. By 11 am, we left the homestay and set out for another long ride back to Manila. The Banaue rice terraces were our last stop also for lunch.

New and old friends, and a destination off my list. Amazing to think that bare hands made all of these wonders. A trip one for the books!

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