The Terraces of Batad, Ifugao

Tucked cosily amidst the mountainous landscape and native atmosphere of the Ifugao province is the humble barangay of Batad. This community belongs to the 4th class municipality of Banaue which is home to one of the five majestic rice terraces recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Planted in each paddy of these terraces is more than just rice but a vastly rich cultural account of the Ifugao people’s prestigious history. The storied past and world-recognized distinctions are overshadowed only by the sheer beauty of the surroundings of this world treasure.

The terraces of Ifugao tell us a great deal about the Philippines’ ancestral background. The fact being that the Batad terraces showed a complex stone structure amidst an age when everything else was made from wood showcases the ingenuity of the ancestral Ifugao. The hydraulic system that the terraces use demonstrates the region’s mechanical prowess and the communal way of living that the Ifugao observed. A single water source is routed downstream the stair-like collection of paddies through a series of stone-made waterways. Each farmer’s land is thus given access to ample water to grow crops that they need for basic sustenance. This was a manifestation of sustainable systems possibly as early as the pre-colonial period according to some experts. It shows us that their respect for their natural surroundings was immense. As a community they would work on fixing and maintaining the watering system sustaining their farming production. Although slowly moving toward more modern practices, to this day the Ifugao still observe traditional practices like the creation of native houses and farming rituals like the Hudhud (which is also recognized by UNESCO as the first Philippine Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity).

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The beauty of the Batad rice terraces is only justified by experiencing it first-hand. To prepare for a trip to Batad is to prepare to be respectful of its natural and cultural integrity.

Like the mountain range it resides in, travellers will be met with uphill treks one after another, each rewarded by breath-taking views of several rice terraces, each telling its own story. It begins with a customary visit to Banaue town proper, home to the viewpoint of the Cordillera Rice Terraces featured in our very own peso bills. From here, a guide would be required as travellers make their way to the saddle point where the descending trek to Batad begins. The trek features forest-cover most of the way and a couple of viewpoints that serve as teasers for the piece de resistance to be found only around the last bend. Beholden at trek’s end, as far as one can see is a stretch of greenery (or gold or brown depending on the season) bordered by colossal stairs climbing towards the sky. On a cliff just below the first viewpoint is a town where accommodations can be arranged. Here, travellers can take a breather and soak up the view before taking another short hike to Tappiyah Falls, a 30-meter high waterfall majestic in its own respect.

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Despite a good amount of trekking, the sights and the people that reside in this community more than make up for it. Anyone who plans a trip here must also remember that commodities like drinks are understandably expensive in Batad and that Banaue does not have any bank or ATM. The trip to Batad in Banaue more than anything else, is one of serenity in nature and awe for Filipino cultural heritage. To make sure you are travelling responsibly, consider taking a Batad tour with Route +63 Travels.

To find out more about Route +63 and its trips, visit http://route63travels.com. Contact Flo at route63travels@gmail.com or 09989886186 for reservations.

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Our journey began with an idea to discover what it means to travel the Philippines, beyond the alluring images of sparkling blue waters and powder white sand. We seek to share travel stories to inspire the wide-eyed traveler, moving them deeper into the destination with stunning images and narratives about its sights, tastes, textures, smells, and local life.

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