The Ifugao Province is blessed with a culturally wealthy panorama, boasting 5 clusters of rice terraces inscribed underneath the UNESCO World Heritage record since 1995 as Residing Cultural Landscapes. These embrace the Batad and Baangaan Terraces in Banaue, the Mayoyao Rice Terraces, the Hungduan Rice Terraces, and the Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan. Amongst these, the Mayoyao Rice Terraces stand out for his or her distinctive preservation, owing to their distant location, leading to minimal vacationer exercise and thus, decreased environmental influence. My long-awaited journey to Mayoyao was made potential due to the Tourism Promotions Board, as we joined their Neighborhood-Primarily based Tourism workshops in Mayoyao.
The Stone-Walled Marvels of Mayoyao
Our voyage to Mayoyao commenced from Manila in a convoy of vans, traversing the Banaue route and later venturing through Isabela on our return journey to Manila. With a number of stops for breakfast in Banaue, and later for snacks and sightseeing in Bangaan, the journey stretched over a leisurely 12–13 hours. Located within the north-central area of Ifugao, it was solely pure to move by way of different municipalities earlier than arriving on the coronary heart of Mayoyao.
We reached Mayoyao mid-morning, greeted by sunny but cool climate at an elevation surpassing 1,000 meters above sea stage. The Tourism Workplace, conveniently positioned in entrance of the plaza, offered us with a map displaying the important thing areas of curiosity in Mayoyao, together with the assorted clusters of terraces akin to Bongan, Chumang, Chaya, Magulon, Banhal, and different minor terraces inside the municipality. In accordance with our veteran information, Leandro Elahe, the UNESCO World Heritage designation extends throughout all these terraces collectively, underscoring the vastness of this cultural treasure. Every UNESCO cluster boasts distinctive traits, with the Mayoyao Rice Terraces elegantly carved alongside mountain ridges, converging like big stairways to the heavens, all meticulously crafted using stone partitions.
Banhal Village Heritage Trek
On our first afternoon in Mayoyao, we got down to discover the Banhal Rice Terraces, a quick showcase of Ifugao’s agricultural panorama. We have been guided to an space the place trendy tetrahedral homes designed for visiting visitors. These up to date dwellings, distinguished by their galvanized roofs, stood in stark distinction to the normal cogon grass-thatched huts of outdated. But, stepping inside, we discovered a world unchanged—an area effectively organized with storage for rice grains, a fire for cooking, and an space designated for relaxation.
Descending additional into the terraces, we encountered the Mayoyao Ladies’s Group weaving middle, a hub of creativity and custom. Right here, expert artisans showcased their craft on loom weaving and handicrafts. As we admired their handiwork, we have been handled to a style of native hospitality—a beneficiant serving of candy potatoes, a humble but heartwarming snack.
Banhal village supplied a quick but enriching trek. As we bid farewell to this charming village, we regarded ahead to the adventures that awaited us within the days forward.
Basking within the Glory of Dawn
Our group was lucky to be accommodated on the Mayoyao View Inn, nestled inside the city correct close to the plaza, providing quick access to the central rice terraces of Mayoyao. Wanting to discover additional, I launched into a solo expedition the next day, looking for out an ideal vantage level to witness the dawn. Guided by curiosity, I navigated by way of a collection of stairs close to the inn, meandering down the street and into the terraces, ultimately ascending to greater ranges at Bongan.
Although harking back to an early morning exercise, the hassle was rewarded as I stumbled upon a local home with a fascinating panorama of the valley and the dawn unfolding earlier than me. The amiable couple residing there graciously allowed me to seize the breathtaking scene, a second of serendipity that may later show to be a spotlight of our trek.
A Terraced Trek Journey
After a satisfying lunch, our group reconvened for a guided trek led by Leandro, a seasoned native information famend for his experience in Mayoyao. Setting off from Bongan, our start line, we adopted a slim stair path close to the Police Station, the place the primary UNESCO marker welcomed guests to enterprise on the path.
Navigating the acquainted pathways, albeit doubtlessly perplexing to newcomers, we made our first cease on the Sembuco residence, the place conventional rice pounding and processing methods have been demonstrated, providing us a glimpse into the age-old practices of terrace farming.
Exploring Mayoyao Correct
Our trek led us deeper into Mayoyao Correct, descending into the plush valley the place conventional tetrahedral or pyramidal homes coexist with trendy dwellings. These homes standing on neatly tiled stone platforms, very similar to the stone-walled terraces, stand as a testomony to the Mayoyao folks’s craftsmanship, now enhanced with trendy instruments for refinement.
Passing by way of fields the place each women and men diligently tended to the land. A laborious activity was achieved solely by girls. We paused halfway for a well-deserved relaxation and sampled native delicacies akin to tinnudok, a pancake-shaped carioca, and banana cue, replenishing our vitality for the journey forward.
Persevering with our descent in the direction of Pfonto’ River, we ultimately emerged onto a street close to a faculty in Mayoyao Correct. In accordance with my Strava knowledge, our trek lasted 2 hours and 31 minutes, with an precise shifting time of 1 hour and seven minutes, descending from 1,080 meters above sea stage to 820 meters, reaching depths of 797 meters.
Although demanding, the trek proved to be a rewarding exploration of one of many best-preserved rice terraces within the nation. Reflecting on our journey, I couldn’t assist however ponder the potential of returning to discover the legendary Lumanguig Rock at close by Balangbang, maybe offering a compelling purpose for a future expedition.
Beneath Celestial Skies
Conversant in the panorama, I embarked confidently on a pre-dawn photoshoot on the terraces on our remaining day in Mayoyao, looking forward to a glimpse of the galactic core and uncommon astronomical alignments. Regardless of the cloudy skies dimming my preliminary hopes, I persevered, making my method by way of the sleepy city to my chosen vantage level close to the Sembuco residence.
Although the window for capturing the Milky Manner narrowed, the night time sky nonetheless shimmered with numerous stars, providing a spectacle of its personal. Although not as envisioned, the dawn painted the sky in a burst of shade, casting a mesmerizing reflection upon the majestic panorama, a becoming conclusion to our Mayoyao journey, and a promise of future returns.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning journey photographer, author and blogger. His works has discovered print in publications akin to Singapore Airways’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airways’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has additionally lent his experience to numerous organizations just like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Basis, Save the Youngsters and World Imaginative and prescient, contributing high quality photos for his or her advertising supplies.