Rice terraces of Ifugao never fail to amaze me every time I see them on books, magazines and blogs. I was so excited to visit them that I didn’t let typhoon Yolanda ruin my plan to tick another childhood dream destination.
Together with my workmates Krizia, Karen, Valent and Kevin, we headed to GV Florida bus terminal in Sampaloc, Manila for the direct bus to Banaue. We left Manila around 10:45PM on a rainy Friday. The bus line has 2 trips to the province: first is the direct trip to Banaue that we took, and the other one which is an Autobus to Bontoc, Mountain Province that passes by Banaue which leaves Manila at 8:35PM.
It was an 8-hour ride to the famous town of Banaue. The bus had only one stop-over at Tactac, Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. We dropped by the Tourist Center to register. It was put up by the local government to centralize the monitoring of tourists visiting Banaue.
An ecotourism fee of Php20 per person needs to be settled at the center. If you forgot to place a reservation for your overnight stay, they can suggest and also help you create your itinerary by recommending attractions with guide fees and jeepney rates.
There is only one public jeepney that goes to Batad from Banaue every day and it leaves town at 1:30PM. Since we wanted to stick with our itinerary, we chartered a van that brought us to Batad Saddle. It was drizzling when we left Banaue and gave us no hope in trying to topload. After passing by the Hanging House, rain stopped and we eagerly went on top of the vehicle that enabled us to see the scenic view of the Banaue-Batad road.
The ride was about an hour. We started our trek going to Batad Village by having the shortcut with 412 steps. The trek was not that difficult and tiring but needed extra care though since the trail was muddy and slippery due to the rain.
A number of stopovers are available on the trail for everyone to take a rest from the long walk. After an hour and 30 minutes, a relief was felt when we reached the welcome marker of Batad. Few meters away is the information center that collects Php50 per person for the heritage fee. From there, you can already have a panoramic view of the amphitheater-liked rice terraces inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Total time spent from Manila to Batad was around 11 hours and it was worth it to finally see the heritage site that plays an important role on our history and culture as Filipinos. Another grade school dream destination ticked!