The Banaue Rice Terraces should never be missed when traveling in the Philippines since it’s definitely one of the most famous icons of the Philippines. Thailand or Vietnam might be the first place that most people associate with sprawling rice paddies but there isn’t any other place in the world where you can see them built on entire mountainsides forming grand terraces at a scale like the Banaue Rice Terraces. At first, I was quite concerned about visiting Banaue during the dry season due to fears of possibly seeing the damaging results of the worst El Nino the Philippines had ever had especially after discovering the rice terraces being in-scripted  into the List of UNESCO World Heritage sites in danger. I was thinking of documenting how badly the terraces for my trip but as my wish of visiting the Banaue came true, my fears quickly died down. My trip was so worth it and I’m so happy that, despite the negative pressures, the rice terraces of Banaue is still a sight to behold and the people of the town have done a great job at preserving its beauty and allure.

Elder Igorot Native watching over the Rice Terraces in Banaue

The Banaue Rice Terraces is included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Here’s a brief description of the Banaue Rice Terraces displayed at UNESCO’s website:

For 2,000 years, the high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains. The fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment. source

From Manila it took us 8 hours to go to Banaue by bus. Most visitors would be settled with seeing the breathtaking panoramic views of the rice terraces in the town proper but we decided to head out first to a remote barangay in Banaue called Batad, famous for its ampitheatre style terraces and Tappiya Falls. We toured Batad for the day and stayed for one night in Ramon’s Homestay. I tell you, it is not a walk in the park. It took us an hour by jeepney to reach the saddle point in Brgy. Batad from Banaue town proper and a 40 minute light trek to the main settlement in Batad then another 1 hour hike along steep trails to Tappiya Falls. Aside from the gorgeous views, what made the trip to Batad worthwhile was personally experiencing a light immersion into the local culture of the Igorots. It was nice to be in close encounters with the locals and hear stories about their lives, traditions, and customs, which is quite unique to these parts in Northern Philippines.

The next day, we returned back to Banaue town proper and set out to see the image of the rice terraces illustrated at the back of the P1000 Philippine Peso Bill in one of the many viewpoints in the area. For me, it is a moment of pride personally seeing the rice terraces. Almost every civilization in the world has constructed awe inspiring man-made structures that serve as a legacy of their greatness. Although the rice terraces isn’t as grand or popular as the Ankgor Wat, Pyramids of Giza, Ancient City of Athens, Great Wall of China and the like but it was still a great feeling to be in close encounter of what our ancestors have achieved.