All you need to endure this world is a memory of love. And sometimes pain… the pain that reminds you that you made it thru.
Given the proliferation of rice terraces scattered all over Cordillera, I can say that I’ve never seen such grandeur and unparalleled beauty compared to that of Batad’s amphitheater rice terraces. I simply fell in love with it at first sight. A UNESCO World Heritage site built by bare hands more than 2,000 years ago, Batad is almost like that elusive Shangri-la. It may be a picture-perfect postcard, but getting there is another story, perhaps one for the books.
I’ve read online that one can hire a tricycle from Banaue to Batad for just P150. When I inquired at Banaue’s Tourism Office, they told me that the standard rate is P700 one way, good for 3 persons. But since I was travelling solo, I just decided to ride the jeepney, which leaves Banaue at 2 pm. Fare is P50 for the locals, and P150 for tourists. I was the only tourist passenger. (Later on I will meet fellow tourists at my homestay who rented tricycles. A couple got one for only P300, while another group got it for P1,200. So the fare really depends on your haggling skills.)
It took us about 40 minutes to reach Batad. Maswerte na nga ang mga pumupunta ngayon because the road is paved all the way to the new jump-off point, which is about 15-minute walk to the Batad Tourist Registration Area. Before, everyone needs to alight from the Saddle Point, and walk all the way down to village which takes more than an hour.
May nanligaw na kaagad na guide sa akin sa jeep pa lang. At ilang minutes lang napa-oo na agad ako kay Ate Perlita. She gave me a rate of P700 going to Tappiya Falls and Batad View Deck.
But before, we proceeded with the tour, I checked in first at Kuya Ramon’s Homestay. This is one the few homestays that offer fale or traditional huts and an authentic Ifugao cultural immersion. The huts, which costs only P500/night for solo, are decorated with animal skulls (animals are usually offered to their deities during their annual rituals). Every night, Kuya Ramon gathers all his guests around a bonfire for storytelling about the history, traditions, customs, and beliefs of Ifugao. Napaka-bait at napaka-down to earth ni Kuya Ramon. He loves to entertain guests. His niece also serves one of the best tinolang manok (cooked with lots of turmeric) I tasted my whole life. I had it for dinner. And ordered it again for breakfast the next day.
Ate Perlita brought me first to the view deck, passing thru rice paddies. On the way pa lang, I was already awed with the majestic beauty of the rice terraces. It was harvest season, so everything glistens in yellow and green. The mountain ranges as its backdrop adds more drama to its panoramic landscape.
From the view-deck we proceeded to Tappiya Falls. They say that the only time you can finally say “I survived Batad” is if you’ve reached and conquered its waterfalls. It’s a steep, arduous downhill trek (with twice the difficulty of getting out). Pero nung nasilayan ko na yung falls, promise nawala ang pagod ko. At kahit sobrang lamig ng tubig, syempre hindi ko na rin pinalampas ang maligo. If you ask me kung mahirap ba marating ang falls, I would say kasing-hirap ng Math 17. Dahil ginapang ko sya pabalik. Sabi ko kay Ate Perlita baka malumpo na ako pauwi.
The next day, despite my body and leg pains, I still went down in the main village to see the church and a day in the life of the locals.
Batad is not only a place. It is actually an experience - a tiring but rewarding experience.
I made some friends along the way and learned a lot about Ifugao culture. I wanted to stay until the afternoon but then again, I need to catch up the lone 9 am jeepney trip back to Banaue. It was another 20-minute grueling, gradually ascending trek back to the jump-off point. But I keep reminding myself about this Thought Catalog quote “Promise yourself that you will not become someone who ends up with a life that doesn’t match up with all they know it could be” until I saw the parked jeepney, about to get full. I didn’t get inside. Instead, nag-top load ako. As the jeepney started to ascend, it feels like this is another Hell Raiser ride. Oh no… not again.
How to get to Batad and tips:
1. Ride Ohayami night bus bound for Banaue (terminal station is in Sampaloc, Manila).
2. Upon arrival in Banaue the following morning, hire a tricycle going to Batad (P500 one way is already a good deal – good for 2-3 pax). If you opt to take the 2 pm jeepney ride to Batad, better tour around Banaue first.
3. Get a guide at the jump-off point or registration area (P800 is the regular rate). Kung nagtitipid, just follow where the tourists are going or ask the locals for directions to the view deck or the falls.
4. There are so many homestays in Batad. Reservation I think is not that needed unless it’s a Hoy Week or a long summer weekend. Better stay at Kuya Ramon’s (0929-6124423, 0926-5187360) for an authentic Batad experience.