Almost eight years have passed before I visited again my favorite rice terraces- Batad, Ifugao. It’s terraced rice paddies were like walls protecting and surrounding a small Ifugao community below. It was a sight to behold, really. It will take your breath away- figuratively and literally.
Following is the entry I have in my moleskin:
February 19, 2012, 5:32pm
Batad Rice Terraces, Ifugao
Batad… Batad… I’m so glad we met again. It’s been eight long years since I last saw you. You are teeming with life- green and pristine that day.
Back then, on our trek to our accommodation, I don’t remember meeting groups of visitors along the trail. Yes, just two old farmers who came from the mountains (I treked Batad May of 2003 and 2004).
Now, I was surprised to see groups of people both Filipinos and foreigners, even one with a ‘boom-box’ as if he can’t leave his music in Manila (You came to Batad to party, party?). Tsk..tsk…
Before, a cup of local coffee was only Php10 and now I’m sipping a 30-peso one. Time has changed you, Batad. Before you are the most beautiful of all the rice terraces I saw. But now, I would say it’s in Kalinga.
I have seen a portion of landslide and I’m saddened that its not yet fix. I wondered, will it ever be?
A long time friend whom I met at the saddle told me about the 70+ people who came to help- for Badchang (Batad Weekend Warrior), which I am most thankful for, I wish it will continue until all are restored. (Except for the trash they left just beside the terraces they repaired). BADyan!
By the way, I’m glad that the way from the junction to saddle is now fixed and heard that the trek to Tappiya falls is much better now. I guess I have to see that tomorrow.
I want to reminisce the days when I carry 30kilos of load on a backpack that was lent to me by my cousin (it was big), a thin-boy who is just starting to explore his country, trying to learn the art of backpacking (from Kuya Bong and Kuya Gel). If I remember it right, I have Php1,800 back then for a 9-day trip to the north. Now I have Php500 to spare.
It was nice to see you again, your fog-covered-mountains, black pig family, red-mouthed uncles and your famed terraced-rice paddies.
I’m so sorry, but I have to say this- “It is as if your seeming timeless charm is about to end.”
___ ___ ___
Here’s my theory why the terraces are slowly fading away. The young generation of Ifugao farmers took the easier path- to guide tourist (dude, its easy money at Php1,200/day) during a hike rather than planting rice and tending the terraces (before getting Php1,200 they have to work in the mountains for about a week). This is just a theory based on a talk I had with a local guide from Banawe.
___ ___ ___
___ ___ ___
After 8 long years, I visited Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao during days 19 and 20 of my ISANG DAAN Journey.
#ISANGDAAN is a personal journey and challenge to backpack around the Philippines the cheapest way possible for 100 days. “Isang Daan” is a Filipino term that can mean either “one way” or “one hundred.”
If you want to follow my steps, I have an interactive map- ISANGDAAN Journey map.