I drove nearly 400 kilometers northwards from Manila. I wanted to breathe fresh air far from the big city where I have been living for so long. It took more than eight hours until my destination came into sight. Let me introduce you the terraced paddy field in Banaue, a part of the World Heritage of the Cordillera Mountains.
The Banaue terraced paddy field dates back to approximately 2,000 years ago. The Ifugaos, an indigenous tribe, took the lead in developing the paddy field along the outlines of mountains that are 800 to 1,500 meters above sea level. The paddy field extends approximately 20,000 square kilometers in total. Even 2,000 years ago, people used only stones to make a huge terraced paddy field. For this reason, it is also known as the eighth wonder of the world. Recently, however, the paddy field has become too old and many of the young people who are supposed to maintain it prefer to move to metropolitan areas. Not surprisingly, then, the paddy field is also listed in the 34 World Heritages in Danger.
Pick up a jipney-a sort of bus-in front of the only hotel in Banaue located at the center of the town. It takes nearly one hour to climb up the mountain. From the top of the mountain, you will see the terraced paddy field spreading out right under your eyes. The view from the mountaintop is good in itself. But I would recommend that you climb down the mountain for about 45 minutes and set foot in the small village managing the terraced paddy field. Without electricity, the village people live in harmony with nature. The village is located between the stairs of terraced paddy field. You can look up and down magnificent views. It is hard to believe that the same views already existed nearly 2,000 years ago. Leading high up in the sky, the countless stairs of terraced paddy field is like a stairway to heaven.
The people's vigor and the echoes of honks in Manila surely represent part of the Philippines. In contrast, Banaue lets you rediscover the way the Philippines originally was. This is about harmony with nature and the timeless relaxation that you could rarely experience in urban areas. The village is a bit far from Manila, but it is worth taking the time and trouble to visit. If you visit the Philippines or Manila, I would suggest that you drop over to Banaue.