As a growing child, I have always seen in pictures the awesome and majestic beauty of Banaue Rice Terraces perfectly sitting pretty in the high mountains of Ifugao. The green paddies in stairway heading to sky design are obviously marvellous, awe-inspiring and impressive. Oftentimes, the pictures were vividly printed in calendars, notebooks, posters, postcards and magazines. Since then, I always wanted to see Banaue rice terraces up-close and personal until it happened just recently. And I will be always grateful having a close encounter with this splendid, spectacular and amazing place that I regard as one of my dream destinations.
Coming from Manila, travelling the 300 kilometers (at least) is pretty long but with the fresh, breezy and cold weather embraces on your body and personality as well, travelling the too long, zigzag and uphill road to Banaue is rewarding and an experience. Although the early morning doesn't conforms my expectation to witness the natural charm of Banaue rice terraces, seeing it in person nevertheless has paid off the zeal that is worth to feel its presence more than anything else. At our standpoint, six o’clock in the morning overshadows the panoramic view of the terraces while the sun still rises from her behind. I believe at least the nine o’clock is where the sunlight will fully expose the true colour of the lovely, marvelous, admirable and spectacular terraces. But then, it doesn't cause my admiration to cease to this lovely place.
Geographically, the Banaue rice terraces is in Ifugao. Batad and Bangaan are the two proud mountains covering the terraces and are sharing the prestige of tourists’ admiration. Sitting at 5,000 feet above sea level makes the terraces enjoy the cold temperature. Measuring 4,000 square miles of the mountain side, the dramatic landscape of the Banuae Rice Terraces has been always dubbed and recognized as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Thru the great craftsmanship and creativity, the paddies that look stairway to sky were carved by the indigenous ancestors’ bare hands two thousand years ago making it their heritage and legacy. This wonder of Banaue rice terraces is still maintained to date by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforest, a rare instance of bringing back us to the dawn of times.
It was a great experience especially when I first stepped my foot on its brown to red soil, I felt the instant connection in me with nature. Banuae rice terraces simply wowed me with its powerful, serene, and attractive beauty that wrap the whole highland. Looking the green sprout grain blown by the breeze and rough wind, it metaphorically depicts the dancing souls swinging left and right. It is like the tranquil waves waving from side to side repeatedly running from down to up. I just love the idea of being in the place that many have dreamed too. Walking the paddies between the rice fields, I feel the preference to stay in a place that is so close to nature. It brings back my feeling to reach my dream of living in a garden house when I get retired.
I feel how lucky the locals for having own the Banaue rice terraces. Philippines has 7,107 islands and islets, although each one has its own blessings to call but not everyone has the blessings to own a magnificent legacy like Banaue and nothing can compare the way I feel about this only man made wonder sculpted from this earth.
By Alex V. Villamayor