After being slave-driven to see the verdant stepped terraces of Ifugao for three straight days (which we really didn’t mind by the way) we were finally given some free time to walk around Banaue’s town without a guide holding our hands.
Fresh from Hungduan’s Rice Terraces, we hurried down from our nest at the top of our jeepney as it passed Banaue’s Poblacion where we would be spending our afternoon pulling cash from our wallets in exchange for some hand-woven fabrics and the thing “travelers” abhor the most, ref magnets and keychains.
Descending down the winding moma-splattered road into town, we passed the first signs of the souvenir shops; beautifully woven red and black tapestries lining a shop’s wall. We counted our dough and readied our wallets.
A vendor selling street fares held us for a moment as we tried their tuknenengs, fishballs, kwek-kweks and onedayolds. I remember eating here months before, unable to afford anything for dinner but their chow. I still recall how good their sauce was, and it’s no fluke; it’s still as good as I remembered if from before.
We checked out the eastern end of the road for trinkets to bring back home but found more stuff at the western end instead. Souvenir shops line the streets selling everything Ifugao; carvings of various sizes, jewelries both expensive and cheap, tapestries screaming reds and blacks, funky bags, brooms, drums, t-shirts and of course, ref magnets and keychains.
I have my Banaue ref magnet from my previous trip so I looked for something different this time. After rummaging through each store I found mine at the elevated marketplace; a miniaturized iron bolo complete with handwoven rattan handle and carved wooden holster. It was priced at Php175.00 each but I managed to bring it down to Php140.00 for a couple. Expensive but looks really neat.
With my souvenir money all spent, a few of us proceeded to the steel hanging bridge at the back of the market. We descended concrete steps seemingly made for giants, the treads were just too high for mere mortals, before reaching the swaying bridge that covers a ravine with rushing rapids below.
Walking further we entered a narrow street that led to Banaue’s Rice Terraces. Hurdling up through stone steps, we kept on ‘til we reached the rice paddies facing the town of Banaue.
It was the first time I reached this place despite visiting Banaue previously. The paddies were shining with all shades of green, an emerald sea rising to the mountains beyond.
Off the mountain ridges, dark clouds roll by. We waited for the sun to shine through; E playing his newly acquired bongo and I playing with the local kids that got curious with our little band.
The clouds rolled on and on but the sun was never fully able to peek through. Twilight was racing down the mountains as we made our way back to the town. Dejected that we weren’t able to witness a glorious sundown, but still contented in a way that we got a chance to hang out at Banaue’s two thousand year-old mountain of a sculpture for one quiet afternoon.
Address: Poblacion, Banaue, Ifugao
GPS Coordinates: 16.91186,121.061165
Click to view location on Google Maps
THE IFUGAO HERITAGE WARRIOR CARAVAN RUN IS A FIVE-DAY FAMILIARIZATION TOUR OF THE IFUAGO ORGANIZED BY PHILTOA