The orange backpack is all set and ready to go

After over a year na nakatengga lang sa sulok, it’s set and ready to go again. Yay for us! Will spend about a week in Bukidnon and 10 hours in Davao. 10 hours! OMG kulang!

Dahil sa sobrang kakuriputan instead of flying from Cagayan de Oro straight to Manila going back home, I decided to detour and bruise my bottoms to save at least a thousand pesos. Which I will probably spend in food and souvenirs anyway. Hahahaha. At least napakinabangan in other ways kesa sa pag-upo lang sa eroplano.

It was quite nice of Cebu Pacific to reinstate my booking kahit pumalya yung unang payment due to bank delay so tuloy na tuloy na and walang atrasan. Thank you Cebu Pacific for giving the opportunity to kuripots like me to travel without the guilty feeling of spending so much on plane ticket. Mas mahal pa ang bus round trip ticket ko kesa dito!

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Name that flower

After days of hunting I finally found the name of a flower I bought about two years ago during the La Trinidad Strawberry Festival. It looks like an orchid but it’s not. After a reverse image search it seems to match the blue flag iris but then it’s a bit off. After many many attempts of finding an exact match and using Philippine Iris as a string, it finally yielded its name. It’s called walking iris (Neomarica northiana) but there’s another catch, it’s not a true iris but some kind of a lily. At last I know what it’s called now. Regardless if it’s an iris or a lily, it’s still beautiful.

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Brazillian walking iris (Neomarica caerulea)

Women and gigantic bags / luggage

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I am a female but I don’t understand the need for helluva gigantic bag or luggage. This is why I would never offer to carry le girlfriend’s bag/s, period. And I pity those poor guys toting around oversized bags/handbags/totes/houses. Why bring a hugeass bag and let another soul suffer. Can’t carry then don’t carry, le boyfriend is not a personal bellhop. I personally don’t think guys who carry their girlfriend’s stuff cool unless it’s the grocery, some equipment or something seriously heavy but not heavy personal bags/handbags/totes/houses.

I would often tease my best friend that she takes her house with her wherever she goes and it’s half meant. Her handbag weighs like 2-3 kg at an average. And if you look inside it’s made up of purses(?); wallet/s, make ups, toiletry (seriously who would carry such around on a daily basis), stuffs group 1, stuffs group 2, and some other stuff. I would only carry a bag with me if the things I’ll be needing won’t fit in my pockets.

My sister recently came home from overseas for a 2-week vacation and ohmygollygeewow! Her personal belongings weigh about 20kg packed in 10kg luggage. You are travelling international to one of the worst airport in the world known for opportunist taxi drivers, logically you would want to pack light to avoid the hassle of losing a luggage or the nightmare of transporting it around. Once went on a 5 day vacation with her and still, she brought a 20kg luggage whereas I had duffel bag topping at maybe 5 kg. On a 3 day vacation, my worldly belongings fit into my small orange backpack. 3 sets of clothes, 1 set extra (opposite the weather I packed for), 1 set sleeping clothes, half dozen underwears, pocket size toiletries, beauty kit (powder, lipbalm, small bottle perfume, sunblock), slippers, sarong(which served as towel). Can’t think of anything else to stuff in there. So yeah, it’s kinda difficult for me to swallow a 30kg pack for a 2-week stay unless of course you are camping and you have to bring your kitchen with you.

Bangaan: Retaining The Charm of the Ancient Terraces 1

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It’s so easy to fall in love with the Bangaan Rice Terraces. It’s not as grand as the Batad Rice Terraces but its just as beautiful and has that charming vibe that one can feel instantly. If I were to compare, Batad is masculine whereas Bangaan is feminine. A beautiful and charming lady through and through.

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My first glimpse of Bangaan Rice Terraces. I was so taken by its beauty I rued that I only have a point and shoot camera, the beauty is sadly understated and I can’t get a decent panorama to encompass the whole stretch of the terraces. I was precariously perched at the very edge of the road and the drop is over a hundred feet should I fall. I pushed down my fear of heights just for this one shot.

This is just the appetizer. I couldn’t wait to get down and get up close and personal with the terraces and the quaint village below. The trek down is very easy since the stairs are made of concrete and it’s just a few hundred meters. Once I started descending it felt like stepping into a different world, a different era.

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The closer I got, the more beautiful and grander the terraces to appear. The rice plants are lush and verdant. It gives you the illusion of walking through luxurious green carpets.

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The magic of the place doesn’t just stop on being an eyecandy. On my way down I met one of the locals, auntie Virginia Hangdaan. A very kind old lady who offered to show me around and let me try on the native attire, the “tolge”, a traditionally woven wrap skirt.

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Of course I have to have a picture wearing it and walking along the “banong” the traditional way, barefoot. There’s no danger of being injured in any way as the pathways are clear of any modern trash like broken glass or scraps of metals. Just a little tidbit, I’m a bit bow-legged which my parents say I inherited from my grandma on my father’s side. According to some articles I’ve read, it has to do with the position of the embryo during pregnancy and nothing to do with genetics. I have a different theory though. I noticed that many old folks really walk that way and their feet has this odd shape where the toes curl inwards (as in towards the center); and I think it has to do with their environment. They walk barefoot along narrow pathways which I imagine would be slippery as hell during the monsoon season therefore their feet has to adapt to this. The curvature of the toes and the “bow-legged” stance could offer more grip for easier trekking up and down the terraces and the mountains. I’m no doctor or scientist but that’s my personal belief. So, yeah, I inherited it from my grandma and I I’m not ashamed of it. I used to feel bad when kids teased me but when I saw my grandma’s feet and the older folks in Ifugao, I just shrugged it off. It’s an adaptive evolutionary thing y’know. 🙂

I think this is quite long enough for a single post. I had a really really great time in Bangaan so part 2 will be coming right up.

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Batad: On losing her charm

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I would like to start this post with a quote

“The only thing that is constant is change.”

― Heraclitus

This post was actually spurred by this article. This is going to be a long one so buckle up. 🙂

On a whim, I decided to visit the home province of my parents during the holy week. Just a little background, my parents are both from Ifugao. My father is from Lagawe and my mother is from Banaue, but I was born and raised in La Trinidad, a town in Benguet. When I am asked where I am from I just say I was born and raised in Benguet but my parents are from Ifugao. I won’t dare say I am from Ifugao for I’ve never truly lived there. Not because I am not proud of my heritage, quite the contrary I am very very proud, but because I am more familiar with the culture of Benguet than Ifugao. In a sense I am ‘yBenguet’ for the culture I have assimilated is that of Benguet. I do speak the local dialect of Ifugao and I know some traditions I have observed during our short vacations and information shared by my parents. In addition, I’ve only been to Banaue once 18 years ago. Our vacations when I was younger were confined to Lagawe and usually lasts about 2 weeks only. So there.

I was really young when I first saw the Banaue Rice Terraces from the viewing deck in Banaue Proper but the image will stay with me forever. I am so glad that I saw it before its raw beauty got tainted by progress and commercialism. It was around the end of May when I first saw the giant stairways to heaven. My memory of the Banaue rice terraces is a radiant and verdant sea of green carpet with the plants swaying softly to the wind. I remember the small waterfalls on the nooks and crannies where one side of the mountains meet the others. I remember the small village nestled near the foot of the mountain, dwarfed by imposing giant terraces. It was postcard perfect. I will hold on to that image and will not let the new image of Banaue tarnish it.

I will admit that I myself felt a twinge of disappointment when I first saw Batad rice terraces, famous for its ampitheater shaped terraces, because of the surrounding commercialism but I overcame it. It’s beautiful no question but it was strange, there’s something lacking I can’t point my finger to. I thought my first reaction would be some sort of connection, a profound feeling of amazement. It didn’t quite happen that way. There is too much noise around me, too much activity I felt distracted. I felt like I was in a crowded mall watching some sort of show. Only when I closed my eyes and recalled that feeling I had years ago when I first saw the Banaue Rice Terraces, and thought of the old people who toiled on these land thousands of years ago did the connection come. I felt the magic at that point. I can’t express in words but the beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces is not merely its aesthetics but also its history, its people. One will marvel at how the ancient people conquered the mountains with their simple tools. They carved out a magnificent sculpture that withstood the test of time for over 2,000 years. The beauty of the rice terraces should not be perceived by the eyes alone but also by the heart and mind. I think that’s how you would fully appreciate it even with the eyesores surrounding it.

The beauty of Batad is marred by concrete structures surrounding it and all the hustle and bustle of commercial activity. I guess there’s no single contributing factor to what the author of the article worded as “Banaue losing its charm”. Let me just quote his theory here:

Here’s my theory why the terraces are slowly fading away. The young generation of Ifugao farmers took the easier path- to guide tourist (dude, its easy money at Php1,200/day) during a hike rather than planting rice and tending the terraces (before getting Php1,200 they have to work in the mountains for about a week). This is just a theory based on a talk I had with a local guide from Banawe.

While it’s true that some of the younger generation do engage in becoming tourist guides, it’s only one side of the story. While this may hold true to some, it doesn’t hold true for everyone. The people of Ifugao are by no means lazy. They are hardworking people. Just an FYI, rice planting in the Banaue Rice Terraces or other terraces in Ifugao is NOT  a commercial activity for most. The rice that they harvest is for family consumption. In addition, they do not use any modern method of farming hence they only plant ONCE a year. Given these facts, the rice that they harvest from their plots is not enough to sustain them for a year. They have to find alternate source of food. They plant sweet potatoes, gabi and others to augment their food source. I therefore don’t blame them for resorting to guiding to earn additional income for the family because it brings more food to the table.

If we look at the bigger picture, with modernization, the younger generation are leaving behind the tradition of their forefathers and embracing the modern way of living. A lot of the younger generation are now getting educated and they are leaving for the the cities to find employment. It is innate for us humans to look for better opportunities. I would cite my mom as an example. She is the 3rd child in a brood of 7, and the 2nd of 6 if counting the second family only. The traditional way of distributing family wealth is a little unfair. The biggest chunk of properties go to the first child, and the rest will be divided among the succeeding siblings. If the parents are not firstborns then they have little or practically have no inheritance to speak of. This is not the case now but you can just imagine how many of the younger generation are descended from non-firstborns. They have to strike out on their own and find their own fortune elsewhere. My mom is not from a rich family so at the tender age of 15 went to Baguio City, found employment and worked hard at getting an education for she firmly believed it is the only way she can improve her life. She is now an educator and still preaches it. In my humble opinion, youth migration is a bigger factor than easy money. As more and more of the younger generation leave, fewer and fewer are left behind to continue the ways of our ancestors. I fear that there will come a time when we will no longer have village elders who hold intimate knowledge of the ways of our ancestors. We will no longer listen to first hand accounts but from history books and that is a very very sad thought. We cannot stop the tide of time and if we don’t do something, our heritage will fade with it.

Change is inevitable. I would say, Batad is not losing her charm. The people around her are just changing.