Igorot on Board (Part 3): Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras

Shoot me now but I was made to believe believed that the Banaue Rices Terraces IS the 8th Wonder of the World. That’s what I was taught from my HEKASI (Heograpiya, Kasaysayan, at Sining) subject in Elementary. It was only after college that I stumbled on the internet a list of the other Wonders of the World claiming eighth place. There’s over 2 dozens more called “the 8th”. Boy, was I devastated! LOL. Moreover, the textbook didn’t clarify that there were other rice terraces as grand as the Banaue Rice Terraces.

terraces_bayyo

So you can just imagine my excitement that March of 2012 when I explored the Inner Loop from Baguio City taking Halsema Highway into the heart of the Cordillera Mountain then exiting via Banaue. I have just visited Sagada and is now making my way to Banaue. This route is just as scenic as Halsema but has more brutal terrain.

Bontoc is only 7 kms from Sabang junction. It has a gas station and ATM’s – services you will find very valuable, like how I did. I guess it’s not the capital of Mountain Province for no reason.

The Kadchog Rice Terraces will welcome you to Bontoc

The Kadchog Rice Terraces will welcome you to Bontoc.

just one of the few rice terraces in the region.

just one of the few rice terraces in the region.

If you plan to go to Banaue, don't miss the turn in front of the Provincial capitol; else you'll end up in Tuguegarao. Ask a local!

If you plan to go to Banaue, don’t miss the turn in front of the Provincial capitol; else you’ll end up in Tuguegarao. Ask a local!

Shortly after leaving Bontoc, I encountered some rough roads that prompted me to slow down to about 40 kph. Even paved roads are laced with some dirt and the slightest mistake can make me lose traction in an instant and could send Dhona and I flying off the cliff.  I slowed down some more. On the other hand, I might get stuck in this same terrain by sundown if I played it too safe.

too many things to admire, so little time.

too many things to admire, so little time.

It is also difficult to stay focused on the road when you have breathtaking panoramic views of the mountain including the scary landslides on its slopes.

It's Summer. it probably hasn't rained in days but these landslides are still pretty scary.

It’s Summer. it probably hasn’t rained in days but these landslides are still pretty scary.

an aerial view of one of the landslides at different zoom levels

an aerial view of one of the landslides at different zoom levels

the picturesque Bay-yo Rice Terraces. She's a real beauty!

the picturesque Bay-yo Rice Terraces

After almost 2 hours and 60 kms from Sagada, I reached Banaue and finally laid my eyes on the (like how my HEKASI textbook calls it) Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe. It is really an engineering feat by our ancestors. I’ve drawn those “steps” on countless school projects and I had to apologize how poorly I rendered them. No photo or video can can capture it’s greatness. You have to see it!

the Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao

the Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao

Applying terracing to a whole mountain.. there's NO app for that!

Applying terracing to a whole mountain.. there’s NO app for that!

STAIRS. It's more fun in the Philippines

STAIRS. It’s more fun in the Philippines

a guardian watching over the crops

a guardian watching over the crops

one more look from a different view deck

one more look from a different view deck

Yet another view from a different perspective

Yet another view from a different perspective

I've counted at least six view decks in the area.

I’ve counted at least six view decks in the area.

I tried borrowing the wooden scoot from this kid but he ran off.. it's one of those, "don't talk to people in skull face-design balaclava" moments

I tried borrowing the wooden scoot from this kid but he ran off.. it’s one of those, “don’t talk to people in skull face-design balaclava” moments.

ROLEX: because sundials are too mainstream

ROLEX: because sundials are too mainstream

The wristwatch on that Ifugao reminded me to get going because it is almost 5 in the afternoon, 12 hours since I left Baguio. I have 400 kms more to cover. The first 60 kms of which is still within the Cordillera Mountains. Sharp curves, landslides, rough roads, steep hills, creepy scarecrows.. they are all still part of the game.

Not out of the woods yet!

Not out of the woods yet!

I breathed a sigh of relief when I merged into Maharlika Highway. It was already nighttime and I’m running on an 18-watt single bulb as my headlight. I rested for a while in Petron Aritao after refueling. I was having second thoughts proceeding through Dalton Pass but I really don’t have any choice so I proceeded anyway.

It was a scary, unforgettable experience. The road was riddled with hundreds of potholes and it was very dark. There were also vehicles on the road but they were mostly trucks. This actually worked in my favor and I stuck with them on several occasions. They were slow because of their heavy cargo but I relied on their blinding, bright lights so I can see where the potholes are. Problem is, they can get really close sometimes so I have to bail and pass them. When I became alone in the dark once more, I slowed down until a car catches up to me. I maintained the same speed as the car while staying ahead of it so the car can light up the way. One car can be useful for about 10 minutes before it can find a chance to pass me. Although there was this one SUV that seemed to understand the predicament I was in and tailgated for over 30 minutes. That or he is just as scared as I am to be alone. :p Buses were the worst! Wide tires, powerful engines, and the momentum to brush smaller vehicles off the road just makes them think they rule the highway. This has been the story for the next 7 hours as I try to figure out how to get home. I passed by Cabanatuan City, Gapan City, Baliuag, Malolos City, Manila, then Laguna. I left Baguio City before 5AM and covered a total of 592 kilometers in 22 hours. It was a priceless adventure.

Igorot is the collective name of the ethnic groups from the Cordillera Administrative Region

Igorot is the collective name of the ethnic groups from the Cordillera Administrative Region

Igorot on Board” is a three-part series of my 22-hour Inner Loop adventure ride in the Cordilleras on March 2012. 

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About Dom de la Torre

The rider is a 20-something Filipino that rides a Honda Wave 125cc underbone. He knows little about motorcycles yet loves the experience going places on two wheels. Rider Ako is a motorcycle-slash-travel blog. The rider not only shares to you travel destinations and what to see there but also the experience of getting there. You will read about the thrills and adventure when he rides solo, the romance of riding in tandem, the camaraderie riding with a group, the excitement participating in events, and anything that he thinks you might find interesting.When he's broke and the fuel's empty, he will share stories about motorcycling how he sees it through his helmet visor.
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8 Responses to Igorot on Board (Part 3): Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras

  1. Irene says:

    Hi, are you Igorot also?

    • Hi Irene! No, I am not. I titled the series “Igorot on Board” partly in reference to the souvenir sticker I got in Sagada. Also, I would like to think that I have somewhat lived up to it by motorcycling in the Cordilleras.

  2. nomad says:

    After reading this series “Igorot on Board”, saludo talaga ako sayo!

  3. sairielrose says:

    hi if were from baguio going to sagada how many hours it will took and about the road? thanks 🙂

  4. Pat Domingo says:

    Great Adventure… I plan on doing a solo Sagada Ride as well.. Hopefully i can pull it off this xmas break… thanks for the write-up. very informative..[=

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