Batad Rice Terraces: A Man-Made Marvel of Ancient Filipino Engineering

Batad Rice Terraces Ifugao Amphitheater shape

Banaue is best explored on-foot – not on wheels, not on any mode of transportation, no nothing. Only the soles of your hiking shoes or the rubbers of your fancy flip-flops should set your uncallused feet apart from the face of the earth. Your muscle endurance and heat tolerance will be put to test in an agonizing trek of uphills and downhills through narrow walkways, uneven terrains, and steep slopes, to witness a renown UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the heart of Cordillera Mountains. Join Biyaherong Barat on a trek to Batad’s Rice Terraces.

The loud barks of street dogs broke the deafening silence which woke me up that shivering morning just before my mobile’s alarm clock went off. Good. I’m off to an early start, having more than enough time to laze in Sanafe Lodge & Restaurant’s balcony while delighting myself with a hefty serving of authentic Filipino breakfast of longganisa (a local sausage), garlic rice, and egg, and served with a warm cup of a freshly brewed coffee. Just as I was sipping on the last drops of my coffee came my travel companions for a whole day trek in Batad.

tourist and traveler in batad rice terraces ifugaoSmiles from my Batad hiking buddies, Joel & Nika

Susan Paredes of Sanafe Lodge & Restaurant referred me to one of their handpicked and trusted guides named Joel Ognayon, a local of Ifugao who has been active in the local tourism industry for over 10 years. Armed with a medical kit, a sharp knowledge, and cultural know-how’s, Joel safely guides visitors in their treks whilst tale-telling the importance, significance and the history of the destination. Completing the group was the solitary intrepid traveler, Nika, who came halfway across the world to discover the hidden treasures of the Philippine archipelago. Our band of three set off to Batad where our on-foot traveling capabilities were put to the test.

Sitio Liwang Banaue IfugaoA house watches over a vast land of rice terraces in Sitio Liwang, Banaue.

Guihob Natural Pool & Rice Terraces Banaue IfugaoGuihob’s natural pool and river surrounded by rice terraces.

Guihob natural pool and rice terraces in banaue ifugaoCool water from the mountains run into River in Guihob.

Tons of Banaue’s attractions en route to Batad deserve a quick stopover simply just to absorb the marvelous view of the innumerable rice terraces sprawling all over the province. Sitio Liwang offers a road side view of multi-layered paddy fields with the gigantic mountains of Cordillera serving as the perfect backdrop. Situated only a few kilometers from Liwang is the picnicker’s favorite Guihob Natural Pool. Nippy running waters gently flow from the mountains to Guihob’s river, flanked by balconies and balconies of rice paddies enveloped in luscious green foliage. Both superb sights are just appetizers that teases its viewers of what grandeur lies ahead.

Hanging House on the way to Batad IfugaoPassing by Hanging House/Dalican Viewdeck en route to Batad.

Hanging House on the way to Batad IfugaoHanging House viewed from the road side.

hanging house souvenir shop dalican viewdeckHanging House Souvenir Shop Dalican Viewdeck.

Kid playing with the wooden statues displayed at the Hanging House.Kid playing with the wooden statues displayed at the Hanging House.

Winding bumpy roads running along cliffs started getting really rough as we penetrate deeper into Ifugao’s remote towns. The last stop before our jump-off point is the so-called Hanging House which seemingly clings to a cliff’s edge. Combined panels of thin metal sheet roofings wrapped the entire house standing on large tree trunks for foundation. The bizarre location of the Hanging House declared itself a destination on its own where tourists drop by not only to get souvenirs carved from wood, but to view the rice terraces of Dalican, as well. The Hanging House gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “living on the edge”.

Batad Rice Terraces batad junctionBatad Junction – jump off point to Batad Rice Terraces.

Batad Rice Terraces Tappiya Falls signage“Batad Rice Terraces & Tappiya Waterfalls”

Travel time from Banaue, including viewing and picture-taking stopovers, took us a few minutes over an hour to reach Batad Junction, a three-way intersection wherein the main road drives all the way to Mayoyao, and the off-beaten passage perpendicular to the main road lead to Batad Rice Terraces cluster. Batad Junction is the jump-off point to an arduous journey to both our destinations – Batad Rice Terraces and Tappiya Falls.

Beads of sweat began to break from the temple of my head down to the neck, just only a few meters after kick starting the ascent, and it got me questioning my endurance. To get our minds off the agonizing trek ahead of us, our trio engaged into conversations of life, religion, politics, history and culture. Before we knew it, the “saddle” was in sight.

Hikers waiting for the jeepney in Batad SaddleForeign visitors waiting for the jeepney bound for Banaue in a store in Batad Saddle.

Huge Mountains Seen From Batad SaddleA window giving glimpses of the rice terraces.

Hiking from the junction to Batad Saddle was a manageable 45-minute to an hour walk on arelaxed pace. The saddle sits on a ridge in between two mountains which resembles the shape of seat on a horse (or a camel maybe), thus, being called the saddle. Small eateries and local sari-sari stores selling drinks, snacks, and souvenirs are available at the Saddle but on higher retail price understandably due to the difficulty of transporting goods. Nonetheless, Batad Saddle is still the best resting point before pushing forward for the rice terraces.

rice terraces near batad saddleRice paddies carved in the slope of a mountain. Viewed on the way to Batad Terraces.

My dri-fit badminton shirt was soaking with sweat but Joel appeared to be just warming up as we advance to our next destination and the second part of the hike – Saddle to Batad. Descending from the saddle passes through narrow staircases and pathways under the shade of a thick foliage of tree canopies. At certain points, the clearings present remarkable views of rice terraces isolated from the huge clusters, which dotted many parts of Ifugao.

A few more steps later, unfolding before my eyes was the majestic man-made marvel of ancient Filipino engineering, the Batad Rice Terraces. For a while, my heavy breathing literally stopped as I awed with the spectacle that I can’t even think of the exact words to describe it with. No wonder it was among the five (5)  inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the cultural and landscape category back in ’95.

Batad Rice Terraces amphitheater shape IfugaoThe amphitheater-shaped Batad Rice Terraces cluster.

rice paddies in batad ifugaoRice paddy fields on the mountain.

Batad’s cluster of rice fields possesses two distinct characteristics which made it popular among the other rice terraces: first, the collective assembly of the rice fields forms the shape of an amphitheater, second, the walls of the paddies are made up of stones. Being boxed in by colossal mountain ranges, building the rice fields follows the contour of the slopes as it was built from ground and elevates to a higher sections of the mountains, thus, resembling an amphitheater.

batad rice terraces ifugaoA beautiful pattern sculpted in the mountain slopes

Most rice paddies in Ifugao are walled with a complex fixture of hard soil and mud but Batad’s pond fields were secured with stones and rocks. Joel gave us a walk through on how the Ifugao’s of Batad turned immovable heavy boulders, the size of a tricycle, into stones that can be carried by 1 or 2 Ifugao’s. Setting the rock on fire and instantly cooling it down softened the gigantic boulder which now can be broken down by tools made from harder stones.

Amphitheater shaped Batad Rice Terraces IfugaoBatad village in the middle of the terraces.

Ifugao came from the word “i-pugo”, “i” meaning the “tao” or people, and “pugo” meaning hill or mountain, hence, “people of the hill (or the mountain)”. No other ancient civilizations have engineered a series of terraces on a grand scale. The mountain people have mastered a monumental feat that absolutely deserved the world recognition.

I hope this will serve as an inspiration to my fellowmen that Filipinos, working as one unit and setting all their differences aside, can change the fate of our country wherein, WE, as one, will build a strong and peaceful nation recognized, even in the farthest corners of this planet.

This made me a prouder Filipino in my thoughts, words, and actions.

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Now, here are some fast facts that may help you on the trip:

1. That was the easy part of the hike. The real challenge was the Assault To Tappiya Falls.

2. Joel Ognayon is an experienced Ifugao tour guide who provides relevant and factual information about the destinations, and its cultural and historical significance. Being in the tourism industry for over 10 years, he already underwent many tourism seminars that recognizes his guiding skills for both local and foreign visitors.

You could reach him through:
Mobile: +63918 436 77 08 (recommended)
E-mail: barzillaio@yahoo.com
Facebook: Joel Ognayon

3. Joel’s tour guide rates (standard for registered guides).
P1,200.00 (USD 28.00) – Tour guide to Batad & Tappiya Falls
P700.00 (USD 17.00) – Private tricycle (2-3 persons) from Banaue-Batad Junction and back.
P2,500.00 (USD 60.00) – jeepney (more than 3 persons) from Banaue-Batad Junction and back

If you’re charged by other guides above this rate, they’re ripping you off. If some charges you lower, think again, ask for credentials. Beware of unregistered guides.

4. Wear light clothes during the hike and bring an extra shirt.

5. Wear your most trust-worthy outdoor shoes.

6. Hiking from Batad Junction to Batad Saddle is approximately an hour, and from the Saddle to Batad is approximately an hour also. Both on an easy and relaxed pace.

7. When you reach Batad, there is a small outpost where you will register and “donate” any amount. I think P20.00 is enough.

8. Bring a bottle of water, at least 1 liter, if you’re not willing to spend an extra buck. A small bottle of water is quite expensive at the saddle.

9. Take time to drop by the stopover destinations even for 5-15 minutes.

10. Don’t rush your hike to Batad. Enjoy and absorb the picturesque view.

11. Please LIKE BIYAHERONG BARAT on Facebook.

12. Don’t forget to FOLLOW BIYAHERONG BARAT on Twitter.

13. See nearby destinations in Biyaheng Ifugao.

14. Always be safe and happy travels to you all.

 

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34 thoughts on “Batad Rice Terraces: A Man-Made Marvel of Ancient Filipino Engineering

  1. Pingback: Sanafe Lodge & Restaurant: Your “Home” In Banaue, Ifugao « Biyaherong Barat

  2. Great photographer, Creative Writer, Adventurous Soul, Patriotic Mind, …these were just some of your characters that came out of your feature. Thank you for helping share the awesome beauty of the Terraces and the wonderful people that created them…I am proud of you and look forward to more of your travels.

    • Thank you very much for comments. I think I got the artistic mind, the undying love for the Philippines, and above all, the adventurous soul from you. Thank you for that, Mom.

      I hope my travels could help spread the love to our homeland and its treasures. In this way, even little by little, I think I’m repaying my duties as a citizen.

      Cheers to more travels and to the Filipino people.

  3. You did a great job in documenting your journey to the home of the “people from the hill”. This will indeed be helpful and beneficial to Ifugao and to future tourists who shall brave the challenge to see the former 8th man-made wonder of the world…

    • Thank you very much, Alimunju. I believe that the Ifugao deserves the utmost recognition for they put the Philippines in the world map.

      Thank you very much for dropping by my blog. Have a great day.

    • Thank you very much, Claire. Our guide, Joel, also an Ifugao, taught me very well. The country owes a lot to the Ifugao for they made a name for our country, so thanks to you and your ancestors.

      I hope my blog will serve as a tool in spreading the treasures of our country which the Filipinos can truly be proud of.

      Thank you and have a great day.

  4. you captured the beauty of the rice terraces and its equally awesome and beautiful people…simply amazing, georgeous and breathtaking!!! i have seen it once many years ago and i want to see it again. its great that you share with people the “know-hows” i.e. about the place/people, where to go/stay, contacts, etc. there is so much to see and having these information on hand is really really very handy. more power!

    • Hi Tita Annie,

      Thank you very much, Tita. Ifugao, as a whole is really beautiful. This is one of those trips that I will never forget my entire life. When you and mom come back from the US, maybe we could all go there, and together awe to its grandeur.

      Hope to see you soon, Tita Anne, and thank you very much.

  5. Oi Jed, not sure if you still remember me, Eula, fellow OJT from Living Asia. Been following you’re blog, and I must say you’re writing has improved tremendously! :D Way to go! You’re photography, I’ve always marveled since the beginning. Really, nice blog! Sensible and colorful. More power!

    • Eulaaaaaaa, ano ka ba? Kilala kita, no?

      Thank you sa pag-follow, Eula. Tinututukan ko rin talaga yung writing, but self study lang through internet and some friends. Thank you very much, Eula. Nawa’y magkrus muli ang mga landas nating OJT classmates pati na rin ang ating mga supervisors.

      Thank you for dropping by. =)

  6. Pingback: Batad, Ifugao: Pushing Forward To Tappiya Falls « Biyaherong Barat

  7. Pingback: Three View Points of Banaue Rice Terraces: Chasing The Light « Biyaherong Barat

  8. Pingback: 10 Basic Travel Guidelines For Ifugao First Time Travelers « Biyaherong Barat

  9. You have a beautiful and very informative blog thanks for all the info. Me and my family plan to visit Batad village, rice terraces, the falls and SAGADA this coming december 26 t o29. This is not our first time in Banaue and Sagada but first time to explore BATAD rice terraces is it a good time to visit and do some trekking? Many thanks – tetchie

    • Hi Tetchie,

      I’m sure you’d enjoy Batad. That would be a nice place to spend a family vacation. Just to be sure, make early reservations because I’ve heard that lodgings and inns get quite filled during the holidays.

      Thank you for dropping by. I’m glad to help. Have a great day. =)

  10. As I have always said, the Banaue Rice Terraces is an awesome sight, but Batad Rice Terraces is an awesome experience! Thanks for allowing me to re-live my visit there. Hmmmm…. time to probably go back :)

  11. I’m bringing my sister to Banaue this coming weekend and your blog has been very helpful and just amazing. Will it be better to stay a night at Batad instead of staying in Banaue town proper? Do you have any recommendations where to stay there?

    • Hi Dianne,

      I’m glad I was able to help. Haven’t tried staying in Batad, but that’s a great plan. Batad is the more laid-back, and quiet part. While the town proper is accessible to many destinations nearby, and of course, the bus terminal.

      If you’re on a 3 day vacation, why not stay at Batad on the first night then on the town proper on the next.

      You could stay in Batad Pension House (they have good food), or Ramon’s Homestay (here you could stay on a traditional Ifugao hut, it’s quite an experience I think) if you’re staying in Batad. If you’re staying in Banaue, you could check in at Sanafe Lodge, it’s homey, it’s cozy, it’s rustic, perfect for a vacation in Ifugao.

      Hope you have a great time. I’m sure you’ll love the place. =)

  12. hi! I was trying to get more info about wakeboarding in Nuvali when I came across your website! wow! this is really really good! the pictures are amazing and you did a good job in giving details about the places you’ve conquered…. keep up the good work! Anyway I’m from Ifugao and thanks for promoting our place!

    • Maraming salamat po. I enjoyed the place, and Ifugao has lots to offer. I think it’s a must for every Filipino to visit those ancient wonders, and get to know more about the rich culture.

      I’m so glad that you like my post. Thank you very much, and enjoy wakeboarding. =)

  13. Pingback: Ifugao: Banaue, Touched By Splendor and Simplicity | Biyaherong Barat

  14. Pingback: Batad, Ifugao: Sweeter The Second Time Around | Biyaherong Barat

  15. Hi, just wanted to ask, if we’re a group of 5-10 people, how much money does each person need to bring? We’re planning a trip to batad on nov 7-10. we leave manila at 9pm on nov 7. say, given na yung Php2500 for guide fee, what spots will they take us? kamusta rin yung food? do you think a budget of Php250-300/day for food is good?

    thank you! looking forward to your reply. – esther

    • Hello Esther,

      I think it would be best to coordinate with your guide regarding the itinerary. Food is good in Batad, I’m not sure though about the price, and it would depend on the restaurant you’ll be eating.

      Have a safe trip, enjoy. =)

  16. Hi sir id like to know more about his rate:
    3. Joel’s tour guide rates (standard for registered guides).
    P1,200.00 (USD 28.00) – Tour guide to Batad & Tappiya Falls
    P700.00 (USD 17.00) – Private tricycle (2-3 persons) from Banaue-Batad Junction and back.
    P2,500.00 (USD 60.00) – jeepney (more than 3 persons) from Banaue-Batad Junction and back

    We dont have plans of going to and from Batad riding a jeepney. We really want to trek. Does Joel’s 1200 guiding fee cover our trekking to and from Batad Villaga at Ramon’s and Tappiya Falls already?

  17. Hello! your blog post is wonderful, the pictures are awesome, and what you shared is very helpful. Thank you very much for sharing. My brothers and I are thinking of going to Banaue and Batad this coming August, do you think that’s a good time for a hike up there? There are only three of us and we’re wondering how much should we allot for this trip. I hope you can help, thank you very much again :)

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