FROM MANILA TO BAGUIO
At 9 am we hit the road from Manila to Baguio with a Victorian Liner bus. Driving with a bus in the Philippines can be a big adventure. Price: 500 PHP. You can book Regular or 1st class buses (with movies). Instead of 4 hours drive, we drove 6 hours because the bus stopped everywhere. The road to Baguio is narrow. The city is quite big located in between hills and it is packed with people.
CHRISTMAS TIME IN BAGUIO
The main street (Session road) is full of jeepneys and there near is Burnham Park. We have been to North Luzon at the start of December so you could feel the Christmas spirit already. The park was full of cabins where local people were selling food and souvenirs. We ate dinner at Harrison Night Market. It is so interesting when they close the main street to the market at 9 pm. It s crowded! Baguio is the city known as the summer capital of the Philippines. But do not get confused. All cities have problems with air pollution, garbages and waste disposal. Even if Baguio is located in a mountain area, it is still one of the dirtiest cities in the country (top 8).
JEEPNEYS is transported originally made from U.S military jeeps from WWII. U.S.A was here during WWII., after was it finished they left their jeeps here and gave it to the Philippines. Local people transformed it and decorated it with vibrant colors. It is something between bus and van with an open door or even without. It is known for crowded seating and it is really cheap: 10 PHP per ride. We loved it!
We visited the Baguio cathedral which has historical importance. It served as an evacuation center during the Second World War. It is accessible to pedestrians from Session Road via a 104-step stone staircase that ends at a Calvary.
VALLEY OF COLORS is a valley of different colored houses. The name originated from the 3 hillside communities and today it is a tourist spot as well. No entrance, just donations.
MINES VIEWPOINT is an overlooked park with abandoned gold and copper mines. It is a nice panorama view with a lot of suppliers with different types of plants and cacti. It is no entrance fee. You can also take photos of horses.
BANAUE: 8th WONDER OF THE WORLD
Night drive from Baguio to Banaue (8:30 pm – 6:00 am) with Ohayami bus. Our homestay was called BOGAH HOMESTAY and it was cool because they offer tours around Banaue as well. It can cost from 2.000 to 3.000 PHP, depends on which option you choose. Local people are really friendly and nice people, they waited for us in the morning at the bus station.
CULTURE OF RICE
Rice terraces in the North of Luzon are an example of sustainable agriculture with traditional techniques. On the terraces, it needs to be a continuous flow of the water otherwise rice dies. To build one terrace can take up to 2 years. Normally they took stones from the river.
The wet season rice crop in the north lasts from June to November and the dry season crop from November to May. In the south, it is the reverse.
There are different types of rice: WHITE (normal rice), BROWN (healthy), RED (the most nutritious) and BLACK (the tastiest).
The next day we did sightseeing around Banaue.
First, we had the luck to see DUNCLIGAN RICE TERRACES really green. Normally that time of the year (December) terraces are after harvest. Our guide was awesome. He presented the culture of rice. We saw many plants like taro, pineapples, papayas, banana,… Walking through the land of native houses, give you to think.
NATIVE HOUSES: The indigenous peoples in the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon are called Igorot. They belong to different ethnic groups, such as Bontoc, Ibaloi, Ifugao,… Native houses are made with stones or brick walls while the upper floor is made of wood. The floor is raised on house posts. This under space of the house is often used for storage, and sometimes for raising farm animals.
Second terraces we visited were BANGAN and LIWANG TERRACES. If you see a village in the middle of the terraces, this is a native village. In the past, they build it close to terraces in the valley and it was really packed that they could see tribes coming (tribe wars).
The last most famous BATAD RICE TERRACES. From the main road, the path leads 1 km to the Batad village. It is located on the hill with a perfect view of the terraces. In the village is also elementary school. It is interesting that people need to bring food from the main road to the village with hands. They do not have a lift like in Duncligan terraces to bring the food. The entrance fee for the village is 50 PHP per person.
The Banaue rice terraces are recognized as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It is said that if all the terraces were built end to end, they would be able to cover half of the world. They are the world’s oldest rice terraces. How they were built, it was needed a lot of effort, patience and hard-working people. The 2,000 years old terraces were carved by indigenous Filipino’s ancestors. The crops which are planted on the terraces include rice and vegetables. Nowadays young people do not want to maintain terraces anymore; you can see terraces are abandoned and overgrown with grass.
The next day in Banaue, we spent our time trekking. From ups and downs, we saw two valleys full of rice terraces and a couple of waterfalls. Our trekking last approximately two hours and a half. It was a mystic foggy morning, perfect for taking some photos and walk through the jungle as well.
This jaw-dropping and bucket list spot must be done and seen to be believed. A lot of travelers do not go to the North of Luzon, they prefer islands. But if you really want to understand the Filipino culture come to the North, spend the time with locals in nature and you won’t regret it for sure!!!
For more adventures and crazy long driving at North Luzon, do not forget about the mountain paradise city of SAGADA! CLICK HERE for more!