By Anna Valmero
IFUGAO, BANAUE—The rice terraces of the village of Batad is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
Known for its “amphitheater” terraces that change in hue from green to golden yellow during the planting and harvest seasons, the village of Batad is indeed one of the most picturesque places that you can only find in the country.
Tourists, both foreign and local, have long admired the artistry of the Ifugaos in making the integrated irrigation flowing along the terraces. While climate change and recent typhoons have damaged a part of the terraces, it still is a big crowd drawer for tourism.
On your first visit here, don’t forget to have these “must-dos” on your list:
1. Climb and take photos of the rice terraces. Nothing beats the euphoric feeling when you reach the viewer’s deck near the information center after a two-hour hike to Batad’s village. The green hue of the terraces will be worth every step you take to reach the place. Don’t forget to climb down into the terraces and take photos of it from different vantage points.
2. Color your teeth with moma. It is fairly common to see red teeth among locals, both young and old because they eat moma, a mixture of betel nut, peppermint leaves, tobacco and powdered lime (apog). It is one of their cultural traditions to eat moma. If you want to show you are one with the locals, eat moma with them as it shows your respect for their tradition.
3. Visit the sentro. The small community of houses in the middle of the amphitheater is called the sentro. The roofs of the houses used to be thatched cogon roofs but most of them are now GI sheets painted in different colors. Despite this modernization, the locals still follow their traditional house architecture characterized by an elevated floor raised on four wooden poles. Take time to visit the community to know more about the place. A word of advice for shutterbugs: ask permission first if you can take photos of the locals before using your camera.
4. Try the local sweet potato. Next to rice, the locals here eat sweet potato as their second staple food. The variety found here does not need to be dipped in sugar. It is uniquely sweet and has a deep yellow color. Ask the local home stays if they can serve you this.
5. Take a dip at the Tappiyah Falls. Aside from the terraces, the Tappiyah falls is another unique attraction here in Batad. Make sure to allot some time during your trip to trek and take a dip at the Tapiyyah falls. It is a giant falls with a U-shaped river that overflows to tributaries here. The trek will make you realize how steep some parts of the Batad rice terraces are. Make sure you have a local guide when going here and that you are fit for the trek to enjoy it.
To go to Batad: Ohayami buses near the UST campus depart from Manila to Banaue daily at 9p.m. and 10p.m. daily. From Batad, ride a jeepney to Junction and another jeepney to the saddle. From the saddle, take a two-hour trek to the Batad village.
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