Our Escape to the Mountains
Trip Start Feb 01, 2008
8Trip End Apr 07, 2008
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Alas, our home is in the mountains! They were calling our spirits to frolic in the vast Northern Cordillera, where trails and tribal villages still thrive. We took an all night bus to Banaue, known for its 2000 year old rice terraces, making it the 8th wonder of the world!! I unfortunately was unable to sleep, I was far too excited that we were finally traveling again
When we arrived in Banue, it was 6:30 am and the tricycle drivers were already their waiting for their prey to exit the bus. The moment I stepped foot off the bus I was swarmed and bombarded, Dan came to my rescue and we found our driver to take us to the trails. (We base our choice of driver on the feeling we get from the many drivers.)
First we spent some time admiring all of the hand made, wooden, carved crafts and woven garments. The people that live in this part of the Philippines are the Ifugao, they have their own language, but can speak perfect English! (There are over 140 different dialects here!) The town itself was breathtaking! The air was fresh and pure - we felt our energy soar to a state of utopia! Our minds and hearts felt such a release, we were in our element! The village itself is built on the side of the mountains, with ancient rice terraces all around and lush green foliage and flowers entending as far as the eye could see
Near the end of the hike we met some locals that directed us the rest of the way. As we were just about to continue from our short break, a young man passed us, carrying 2 by 6's of hard wood over his shoulders to the village!!
Entering the village was like stepping back in time! The cobbled rice terraces were enchanting, along side with the traditional homes and cobble paths between the houses which were an art in themselves! The Elder's of the village were charming and gentle, they appeared Timeless with their weather worn faces and bright eyes. Surrounding the village is a huge river that runs through the village and far terraces. Somehow they built an amazing suspension bridge to get to these terraces (talk about technology). On our arrival, we happened to meet a Nurse volunteer Edward ,who owned an Inn with a rustic fire place - We were sold - As it is much cooler in the mountains. His lodge just so happened to hasve the best view in town of the terraces and the rushing river! Edward showed us the rest of the village as children were crawling all over him, it was great. They later swarmed the lodge laughing and running away when we gave them a smile. It was soo fun! Edward is teaching the children and adults about basic hygiene, as well he has his clinic in the lodge. We spent the night chatting with Edward about Canada and Natural living and the importance of maintaining culture and tradition..
We were shocked to learn that many of the youth are abandoning their culture. As the western world seduces the youth into believing that making money and having possessions is what matters in life. They are sadly being influenced by the western culture even in this isolated village, and its ideals in material affluence. The young people are leaving the village exponentially, because of this fallacy! Leaving behind the natural, fertile world of community and tradition. The west has given them a taste from the "fictitious bottle," just as it has been done to many aboriginal cultures all over the world. Although this village was struggling, they were happy and smiling and celebrating life. The real reason why they are suffering in the first place is due to the serious loss in manpower to grow the rice and vegetables. Additionally, it has also been raining a great deal in this area, which is very unusual. They are a month behind in planting their rice, which is serious if they don't produce a certain percentage of the required yield. However, in this paradise these beautiful people still have a sense of humor and warmth and Love. They are survivors that have thrived in these mountains for thousands of years - and we can all only send love and strength for these amazing individuals, that they will not have to conform and more importantly maintain their identity
The following morning we continued on, and ventured to Batad, the most visited village in the area. The journey was amazing, as we balanced on terraces with 15 ft drops, looking out into the vast exotic mountain terrain with not a soul insight. We felt rejuvenated in this tranquil setting of ancient times, we experienced the euphoric feeling of utter freedom! The trek to Batad was quite steep and narrow with straight drops and muddy path ways. It was an adventure with our heavy bags and tired legs, but we did not let it slow us down! We felt as though we were on top of the world! When we reached the end of this trail, we could never have imaged the sight that was about to hit our eyes. It was beyond words. We entered this valley with hundreds of terraces scaling the mountain, little villages spread sporadically at the base and along the side of the mountain. The children were playing beside their parents as they worked the rice in ankle deep waters, planting the little bundles of premature rice. We could hear the crashing of a giant waterfall by our side. Our music became the soothing sounds of this giant natural beauty, as we made some "foods" with the gentle breeze dancing across our bodies and the sun kissing our cheeks. We ate in silence reveling in our surroundings, and taking the time to reflect on our many beautiful experiences, it was magical
We woke early the next morning to see the sunrise in this magical place, and hopped on a packed "Jeepney" to take us to Sagada, 4 hours north west of Banaue!..We met a friendly Spanish couple, who were interested in sustainable living, so we had a nice time chatting, making the trip pleasant. As we ventured closer to Sagada the vegetation slowly began to transform into British Columbia like terrain! It was as if we were traveling through our moutain range with giant pine trees everywhere!.., When we entered Sagada we were in Nelson all over again! We found home... We even stayed in our own cabin, fully furnished, kitchen, fire place, away from the town
The owner of our cabin, actually had a cave café under his home! It was magnificent! This area is known for its caves! We couldn't resist a cave adventure! We went with guide as the caves are dangerous on your own and one needs special equipment!...The pictures explain the trip!...
That evening their was a native ceremony for planting of the rice. We were welcomed with open arms! They even taught us their dance ritual and Dan played the instruments with the other men, as I dance with the women! It was so funny, because they kept calling us up to dance becuase we were the only forigners present... So there we were, dancing in a native style we have never practiced before, with every single eye from the village people on us!..
So we left the next morning, fulfilled and ready to go to Baguio, the near by city (well, about 7 hours away). I should mention that Dan had an unchallangeable call to make it to Baguio even though it was so far out of the way. So unchallengable, that we went the 7 hours out of ourr way just to spend a few hours that afternoon there!... sounds crazy huh? Well, when we got there, we went strait to that cafe that Edward had told us about.. "Cafe by the Ruins." Immidiately we realized why we were called to Cambulo to hear from Edward about this place in Baguio... we met two brothers, Israel and Marc. They were thrilled to run into us as well, as it is not common to run into "rainbow family" in the middle of the Phillipines. It turns out that Marc was on an amaing journey that had led him to Baguio to learn under the instruction of one of the greatest psychic healers ther phillipines has ever known. This mans name is Jun Labo, and he is the father of Israel. We learned all about him, his practice, and the presence of energy felt throughout this part of the Phillipines
All was good, and we took the morning to rest before meeting with Stephen and Helen.