My heart-stopping journey to the northern mountains of the Philippines – Batad, Banaue

The bustling city of Manila has so many quirks that my friends refer to it as a lady. Well, in fact Manila is surprisingly warm and very hospitable for a solemn traveler like me. I’m not much into over-energized crowd category since I prefer a little bit of a disconnect from the current ebbs of time such as parties and whatnots. So for my typical holiday getaway, I invited a likeminded friend to go to the popular yet quite hard-to-reach Batad and Banaue in the northernmost region of the Philippines. I often hear that many travelers and tourists go there during the Ber months to take advantage of the chilly weather against the sweltering heat of the typical Manila weather. The rumors were indeed true because we traveled in January just after the holidays.

My friend confidently drove his truck on the hilly roads to Baguio then we stopped at the cooler city for some food supplies and fresh strawberries too. It was a pleasant experience watching some Ifugaos natives sell colorful bags made from the local abaca fiber. The food was delicious too and on my part, I gulped plenty of warm coffee from Starbucks to keep myself warm. Mind you, if you’re not properly clothed, you’d be hitting your head for not bringing a jacket. After stacking-up adequate supplies, we hurried back to the truck and started a steeper drive to Banaue. City cars could make it but in my experience, smaller cars were pretty much beaten on the way to Banaue.

When we reached Banaue, I immediately felt the natural aroma of the mountains, it was kind of magical. It wasn’t so chilly at daytime and after my friend parked his truck to one of the friendly local’s garage, we just took a jeep to the place called the Saddle, the closest place to Batad that vehicles could go. I took the necessary precautions of packing with the lightest load possible and judging from the excruciating half-an-hour trek to the village, my bag felt like a huge luggage on my back. The inns weren’t exactly the types for cozy stays but we came here for the challenging treks such as the breathtaking Awa View Deck and the mesmerizing Tappiya Waterfalls.

We met a friendly local named Arjay who guided as to the treks and basically immersed us to what the locals call their nightlife, a bonfire at the heart of the village. In the midst of the starry night, looking at the bonfire from a distance seems like gazing at the window of the universe. I had no Wi-Fi to connect to and my phone was kind of useless to tell my folks about the experience so I simply froze the warm image on my mind and went back to the circle with cheerful friends and enjoyed the local food which was not only delicious but every bite was filled with the freshest stuff that I could ever find. The nights were indeed freezing but a few glasses of the local wine was all it took to keep me warm and cozy through the night.

The tiny village in the midst of bewildering mountains was a sight to behold and it currently holds a Unesco World Heritage Site title making it even more popular not only for the locals but to some foreign travelers. As a remote location, the site is quite hard-to-reach but if you have the stamina and thirst for adventure, the picturesque Tappiya Waterfalls and the mighty Awa View Deck would simply take your breath away. I am proud to have reached the latter because it was an excruciating climb but I was rewarded with a fascinating view of the mountainous landscape in return.

Why Banaue

  1. Picturesque rice terrace
  2. Friendly local
  3. Test yourself
  4. Trekking in UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  5. See it before it gone

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