I am a geek girl

Over the hills and far away || Molly’s Misadventures in the Cordilleras

Posted on: February 22, 2011

We were required to go on an educational trip to Banaue in Ifugao province, Bontoc and Sagada in Mt. Province and Baguio city, Benget for our Philippine Traditional Art class. Other than the really bumpy, uncomfortable and boring bus rides going to the different destinations, the trip was really worth it.

Weaving the traditional cloth
Weaving the traditional cloth.

Banaue is mostly known for the their rice terraces, once considered an 8th Wonder of the World. The terraces once expanded from Kalinga province but because of modernization, commercialization and lack of support from the government, some of the terraces have been abandoned. We visited a traditional weaver’s place and she showed us how the thread is dyed traditionally an how the cloth is woven, forming different iconic patterns.  Their town had a wedding celebration and we were invited to dance and dine with them. I might have a really awkward picture of me dancing the Ifugao traditional dance but it’s probably with another classmate XD


Traditional dance where everyone from each barrio (village/group) showcase their skills in dancing.

Classmates and Manila people joining in the dancing

We interviewed the weaver’s daughter Criselda and asked if they were taught about their culture in school. She told us that the weaving and the dancing are inherited from parent to children and that their school also teaches them to sing the traditional songs and chants or in Ifugao, Liwliwa. Was really glad to know that despite the modernization, many of the intangible traditions of the Ifugao people are still being preserved and passed on to the children. We even encouraged Criselda to enroll in UP’s Art Studies course and learn more about art history and it’s preservation.

The “zip-line” transporter which they use to deliver goods and people from one side of the terraces to another

Criselda and me against the Bayyo Rice Terraces

We walked these terraces for more than an hour. The view was breath-taking and we climbed up and down really small steps. It was exhausting but not at all a hassle. I should’ve brought my knee braces though as I ended up being unable to bend them for the entire day 😦

Instead of checking in a hotel, our class opted to rent out a place that allows you to sleep in the traditional Ifugao house on the side of a mountain. The house was surprisingly roomy and comfortable, there were a bit of bugs yes, but it was cool during the day but at night, the structure kept us from freezing.

Sunrise in Banaue

View from the traditional house.

Ange and me under a traditional Ifugao house
One of my roommates Ange and me under a traditional Ifugao house.

The next day, we headed out to Sagada but not before stopping over another view of rice terraces in Bayyo, Ifugao. We had lunch at Bontoc where a traditional weaver with nice tattoos spoke to us about their weaving. I wasn’t able to go to the village and see their traditional houses because again of my damn knee. We did a quick stop in the Bontoc Museum where they had some of the artefacts and tools used by the traditional Bontoc people. There was also an exhibit showcasing a collaboration between CSB, La Salle Singapore students and the Bontoc Museum.

We went to Sagada after and my classmates were able to go spelunking in Sumaging cave. I explored the park on my own and went off-trail while waiting for them The pictures and the smiles on their tired faces were evidence that they definitely enjoyed climbing, rappelling and sliding down the deepest recesses of the cave. I’m definitely going back there some day.

During the evening my class decided to drink and enjoy ourselves back in the hotel. Since it was a dormitory type of room, we weren’t really alone in the whole floor. One of the other hotel guests thought it was a pretty good idea to threaten to shoot us students for being “noisy”. We were playing pusoy dos (a Filipino card game similar to poker) and were hardly making any noise aside from idle talking at all since the other hotel guests weren’t really roused by our said noise. Some of the kids were really traumatised so they had to report the incident to our prof. Our professor got mad and reported the guy to the police for the grave threat. The hotel management then decided to move us to another area while the police dealt with the guy. Nothing came out of it though and we really had to be on our way to Baguio the next day.

The Sagada-Baguio, 6 hour trip was the most exhausting of all the bus rides but the most scenic of all. I was able to buy really huge broccoli for Php30 a kilo. There were amazing views of terraces, this time of different vegetables. The older tourists of our group and I were looking for the legendary “Magic Mountains” but apparently they’re found in another province a good 7-8 hours away.

Vegetable terraces

We arrived Baguio but didn’t really go around much as the trip going there was already very exhausting. We spent around an hour and a half buying the usual pasalubong from Baguio: chocoflakes, shirts, Good shepherd ube (taro) jam, brooms, etc. Baguio city looks like a commercial tourist trap, honestly. I would’ve wanted to eat in one of the traditional food places there or at least visit the Ben-cab museum but we aching to go home.

Total Damage: Php4000 or US$92 including pasalubong. We would’ve spent less if we didn’t eat breakfast in a hotel in Banaue and if we availed of student discounts in some of the bus rides.

I’m definitely going back to Sagada just for the caves. The yoghurt place there is also highly recommended, according to those who tried it out.


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February 2011
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