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JADSpirits Travel Log

JADSpirits Travel Log
JADSpirits Travel Log

Daday's Kitchen

Daday's Kitchen
Daday's Kitchen

2016 Year End Family Road Trip to Banaue

A view of the Banaue Rice Terraces from the main viewpoint

If you have been following JADSpirits blog, you already know that we love road trips and most were unplanned.

For the end of 2016, our wandering feet brought us to the mountainous area of Northern Luzon. December 27~31, we embarked on a 5D/4N road trip to Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada-Vigan with our reliable travel buddy, Alphie, a 2006 2nd Gen Honda CRV. With less than 24-hours preparation…and no definite itinerary.

Our initial plan, with route but no accommodation, was a 7D/6N road trip with RORO (Roll-On, Roll-Off) ferry ride traversing Mindoro-Kalibo-Iloilo-Bacolod-Cebu and if time permits, Bohol. Unfortunately, Typhoon Nina decided to spent Christmas in the Philippines, with all her might at Signal Number 4. Still, we left Las Pinas on the morning of December 25 towards Batangas Port…I guess, we have…I have… to see it for myself. And I did! A long queue of trucks, buses and cars waiting for ferries go signal to sail.

Before heading home and making any plans, we decided to visit my aunt, Tia Alegria (my father’s sister) living in Batangas City. Then we proceeded to Santo Tomas, Batangas to say hello to my uncle Tio Rogel (my mother’s youngest sibling) and her wife, Tia Lydia.  They invited us to stay the night. We’re having second thoughts, then it was announced on TV that Typhoon Nina will make its 7th landfall over Batangas. Early morning, we said our goodbyes.

It’s December 26…Jonjie’s 49th birthday.

Along the way is the Shrine of Padre Pio. We’ve been planning to visit it but the timing was not right. And this is the best day to do it. This time, nothing can stop us, not even the sudden heavy downpour right before we enter the church.

Not even typhoon Nina can stop us from visiting Padre Pio Shrine in Batangas
Jonjie inside the Padre Pio Shrine on his 49th birthday
The view of the Bell tower of Padre Pio Shrine
On the way to Pampanga, we discussed our options. The only choice is going north. And we both agreed its time to conquer the upland. Ifugao and Mountain Province here we come!

After arriving home, we get some rest and then I began unpacking our luggage. Our packed clothes are intended for the warmer climate of the south. I had to changed it with jackets, long sleeves, leggings, bonnets, scarfs…

Day 1 – December 27

This happened to be our 17th Church Wedding Anniversary.

We left our house in Pampanga a few minutes before 9:00am, with no plans at all. Only the google map showing us the fastest route to Banaue, and the expected time to destination is 4:00pm.
Our usual family groufie at the start of a road trip, Daniz is at the back sleeping

One hour into our trip, Daniz is already fast asleep in the inflatable car bed. It’s the first time that we used it, but it became an essential accessory to this trip.
Daniz already fast asleep at her inflatable car bed

Halfway along, I checked some lodging and homestay for the night’s accommodation but to no avail.

BANAUE

We arrived Banaue at past 5:00pm…already getting dark and raining lightly.
The sight of the Banaue Welcome sign...we arrived

Banaue Homestay

Since we only need a place to stay for the night, we went directly to Banaue Homestay, no.1 place to stay in Banaue as per TripAdvisor. There are only 2 rooms left…we chose the one with private toilet and bath.
Banaue Homestay is our home for the first night of our road trip
Our room for the night at Banaue Homestay

7th Heavens Cafe

After ensuring that we had a place to stay, next is food for our grumbling stomachs. On our way to Banaue Homestay, we saw this place named 7th Heavens Cafe.

Our first meal at Banaue in the place calle 7th Heavens Cafe
Celebrating our 17th Church Wedding Anniversary
Our dinner at 7th Heavens Cafe - fried chicken, roasted pork and mixed vegetables
Our dinner at 7th Heavens Cafe - fried chicken, roasted pork and mixed vegetables
Daniz is our ony daugther, the child of our hearts

Day 2 - December 28

Breakfast at Banaue Homestay

We and the other guests are welcomed by Banaue Homestay through this signage
We and the other guests are welcomed by Banaue Homestay through this signage
Enjoying our Breakfast at Banaue Homestay
The Window of Banaue Homestay
The sight of rice terraces from the window of Banaue Homestay
The View of Rice Terraces from Banaue Homestay
The view of Rice Terraces from the balcony of Banaue Homestay
The rice terraces as seen from the balcony of Banaue Homestay

After breakfast, we decided to explore a bit of Banaue. We hailed a tricycle and requested him to show us some of the attractions in the area for 2 hours as we planned to leave for Batad at 10:00am.

The Hanging Bridge

It is not what we expected of a hanging bridge. It is made of metal. And it is not meant to be a tourist attraction. but for the first timers, this is one of the places the locals would recommend to visit.

But the bridge has a bigger role for the students of Immaculate Conception School and its neighboring community…its the fastest route to the market and the town proper of Banaue.

JADSpirits at Banaue Hanging Bridge before crossing it
We are JADSpirits - Jonjie, Anni, Daniz Espiritu
Its me ready to take the 297 steps up towards the back of Banaue market
The view of Banaue Hanging Bridge and Immaculate Conception School

Banaue Museum

It is a private museum started by Otley Beyer, known as the Father of Philippine Anthropology. He was married to Lingayu Gambuk, a native of Banaue and daughter of an Ifugao Village Chief. Their only son, William, continued the legacy.

Taking photos inside the museum is not allowed. To have an idea of what we saw, you may read this article from the net.
Taken at the entrance of the Banaue Museum
Taken at the entrance of the Banaue Museum
Taken right after we went out of the Banaue Museum
Taken right after we went out of the Banaue Museum
The bird of paradise flower taken from the upper ground near Banaue Museum
The bird of paradise flower taken from the upper ground near Banaue Museum
A tradional Ifugao hut near Banaue Museum

Batad Rice Terraces

One of the 5 clusters of rice terraces listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is famous for its amphitheater-like rice terraces. It is located 1,100 meters above sea level in a remote community within Banaue that can be reached only by foot.

We left Banaue town proper before 10:00am. Although we have some ideas on what to expect by asking one of the staff in Banaue Homestay and the driver of the tricycle that gave us a tour of the hanging bridge and the museum, we don’t really know what awaits us.

Conquering the unknown is what fuels us to travel. So off we go to Batad…

The long and tedious trek onto the rocky,muddy (because of typhoon Nina) and narrow road to the viewpoint is an adventure in itself. It took us approximately 30 minutes, including taking photos and selfies and stopping to catch our breathe.

Although, the view is foggy, but it did not diminish the beauty and wonder of manmade, handcrafted ingenuity amidst God’s bountiful creation.

The Road to Batad
Traversing the zigzag and narrow road to Batad with 2 jeepneys ahead of us
Welcome Sign to Batad, a UNESCO Heritage Site
The Photographer and the Rice Terraces
The famous Batad Rice Terraces as seen from the first viewpoint
The trekkers in Batad Rice Terraces going to the falls or to the highest viewpoint
The closer shot of Batad Rice Terraces
Clusters of three traditional Ifugao huts in Batad Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces

Consider as one of the Eight Wonder of the World. It is said that if the steps were put end to end, it would encircle half the globe. But unlike Batad, Banaue Rice Terraces are not part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After Batad, we returned to Banaue town proper and up to Banaue Main Viewpoint. But there were no rice terraces…its all foggy…and white.

Not to be easily discouraged, Jonjie said we better look around the stores selling local items and souvenirs that abounded the area.

After several minutes, we had a clear view of the rice terraces…and we are in awe!

In front of us, located approximately 1,500 meters above sea level  are 2,000 year old terraces handcrafted in the mountains of Ifugao by our Igorot ancestors.

The Banaue Rice Terraces seen from the main viewpoint
The steps and the trekkers at Banaue Rice Terraces
Closer shot of Banaue Rice Terraces with the steps and the trekkers

Bontoc

It is the historical capital of the entire Cordillera region.

Traversing the long, winding and foggy road from Banaue, seeing Bontoc from a distance is a welcome sight…with its colorful arrays of buildings and houses. A municipality in a valley, is what we describe it to our daughter, Daniz. And she remembered her learnings in Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies), valley is “a low area of land between hills or mountains”.

We would really like to explore Bontoc more but it is already past 5:00pm so we decided to continue our journey to Sagada…thinking to save it the next time.

Bontoc is a municipality located in the valley
Santa Rita of Cascia Cathedral in BontocBontoc Museum
Rice Terraces of Bontoc

SAGADA

We arrived in Sagada proper at around 6:00pm…dark, foggy and very cold…and no place to stay.

We’ve checked all the possible places through phone or by going to the area, but all were fully booked.

After more than an hour of going back and forth…we were able to secure a room at Gecko Inn…the last one. And we’re okey for our first night in Sagada…tomorrow…we’ll worry about it tomorrow.

Dinner at Misty Lodge

Dinner at Misty Lodge in Sagada
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Tomorrow is another day…in a place called Sagada.


We’ve been planning to visit this place since the early days of our marriage, 17 years ago. So being here, now, is a surreal moment for Jonjie and I.

FOOTNOTES:

Mabalacat-Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada-Vigan-Mabalacat Route

Mabalacat-Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada-Vigan-Mabalacat Route
  • Home to Banaue - 6 h 30 min (284 km)
  • Banaue to Bontoc - 1 h 34 min (40.1 km)
  • Bontoc to Sagada - 1 h 23 min (31.7 km)
  • Sagada to Vigan - 5 h 17 min (184 km)
  • Vigan to Home - 6 h 13 min (321 km)
  • According to Google Map “These directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, weather, or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results, and you should plan your route accordingly. You must obey all signs or notices regarding your route.”