A stairway to heaven.
Just like a song sung by Led Zeppelin. But this time we wont be buying a stairway to heaven, it's not for sale. It's for keeps. Our country's premier pride, the Banaue Rice Terraces.
An iconic astounding wonders molded by imagination, determination and perseverance of the Ifugao Tribe in the mountains of Cordillera Region. The terraces were carved by hands blanketing the mountain slopes with muds and rocks as wall, designed to irrigate waters from atop to pass through the man-made canals flowing directly to the rice paddies. A 2000 years old 8th wonders of the world standing high and mighty tru this time.
As I started my journey from Banaue town proper to Batad Saddle point I knew I am starting to breath the fresh, cool, rice-scented air of the terraces that made me shivers. Starting trails are narrow pathways with few staircases, uneven slopes and slippery muds surrounded by luscious green forest. I am feeling the hotness even the weather is quite cloudy. Sweats are flowing from my forehead down to my spine while trekking. Along the trails were clear areas that showcases portions of rice terraces that me me ache for more.
As I went closer, the immensity of the amphitheater terraces begins to reveal its unexplainable beauty. All I can say was WOW. The greatest engineered masterpiece I have ever seen. And I knew it was love at first sight. I fell inlove with its greatness. I fell inlove with the Ifugaos who made this for my eyes and I am still falling inlove with the people who continue in upbriging their culture and inheritance. I felt Home. For a moment I was just staring at it. Immovable.
A tap on my shoulder awaken my thought. It was my local guide. He said: the greatness is just starting. Check your endurance. I realy didn't get what he meant as I come to life.
Later did I understood what he has said. After a while of imagining, we went on anuphill downhill terrain of the terraces. Slippery steps, a foot-thick paddies we were about to cross, an agonizing steep slopes we have to climb, an endless steps on staircases making me feel to give up plus the scorching heat of the sun envelopes our trek. All this energy-drained feeling is substituted by excitement. I have a purpose and duty to do. And i wanted to conquer this wonderful sight. Take hold of its beauty as long as I can. I was more of happy than tired.
Along the way, we mingled with the locals living in the village at the middle part of the terraces. We visited their traditional houses, weaved with them and we were given a chance to pound rice for one family. Pounding was not simple. It took us almost an hour to clean and get the grains for cooking. After that, we were then offered brewed native coffee. Though it is as hot as the weather, I felt reflenished. Not just my thirst but i was reflenished inside. A feeling that i could not totally explain.
I am on my comfort clothes and trekkings sandals. I also brought liters of waters. Beforehand I had set my mind already of the activities that I would be doing and the exhaustion I have to face. For I will be climbing a more or less 5000 feet above sea level rice terraces.
Banaue Rice Terraces is an ancient landscape that needs total protection and support from each individual.
And as to the song Stairway to Heaven says:
And my spirit is crying for leaving
Your stairway lies in the whispering wind
Oooh, It makes me wonder.
I promise to comeback again and again. Dear Home.