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Banaue and the province of Ifugao

 Posted by , June 01, 2014 at 10:11:29 :: Philippines

Banaue Rice TerracesRice terraces

The mud-walled Banaue rice terraces (Filipino: Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe), also known as Musuan Peak, are the remnants of a 2000-year old rice plantation that ancestors of the indigenous people carved into the mountains of Ifugao. It’s a National Cultural Treasure attraction, commonly referred to by Filipinos as the "Eighth Wonder of the World", that some argue is on par with the Great Wall of China, and for many visitors it is the sole reason for visiting this region. However, Banaue rice terraces were not included in the UNESCO inscription “Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras” due to the presence of numerous modern structures.

The best time to hike up and view the terraces is late in the afternoon, when they are backlit by the setting sun, and, as is to be expected, the higher you go, the better the view. And as these terraces are the major attraction here, guided tours and daily transport there and back, are readily available throughout the town.

To-Tam-An village

This easy-to-reach heritage attraction is a showcase village of weavers and carvers, where visitors can see the native huts, which are among the world’s first prefabricated dwellings in that they do not use a single nail or piece of metal to fasten together. The village replicates the typical life of the Ifugao people, and the woodcarvings and weavings done here can also be purchased at their souvenir shop, at relatively reasonable prices.

The Banaue museum

The Banaue View Inn runs this museum, which contains books written decades ago by anthropologist Otley Beyer. There’s also rare photographs and artifacts, including beads, baskets, pottery, woodcraft and woven materials, all of which depict various aspects of Ifugao history and material culture.

Sagada Hanging CoffinsImbayah festival

Held during the month of April, once every 3 years, the Imbayah festival celebrates Ifugao culture. The celebration consists of ethnic harvest thanksgiving activities, with cultural demonstrations, ethnic games, chants, songs and rituals.

More green around Banaue

Other rice terraces in the Ifugao region, included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, include Bangaan, Cambulo, Mayoyao, and Patpat, but the Batad terraces are probably the most easily accessible. These terraces shaped resemble an amphitheatre, and well worth the 2-hour hike uphill thru mountain trails.

Sagada side trip

If you have 2 extra days to spend, it’s totally worth your while to head to the mysterious mountain village of Sagada to see the hanging coffins of the Igorot peoples, a traditional way of burying people that is still utilized. At the Lumiang Burial Cave there are over 100 coffins stacked at the entrance – the oldest believed to be about 500 years old – while the more famous hanging coffins are high on the limestone cliffs surrounding Echo Valley. The caves can be tricky to navigate, so do the sensible thing and take a guide, and afterwards reward yourself with a refreshing dip in the nearby Bokong and Bomodok Waterfalls (also spelled Bomod-ok). You can also visit the Sagada Weaving Center and learn about the indigenous peoples’ clothes weaving culture, and possibly buy some to take home. There are several buses a day running between Sagada and Baguio, and the trip takes about 7 hours.

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: Coder, Designer, Webmaster and Expert SEO Consulting, Simon Laroche is also a wise traveller and an avid amateur photographer. He created the website Landolia and many others...

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