An Ifugao warrior wannabe. Or better yet, an Ifugao warrior poser. This was taken back in April 2005 in Batad, a small village in Banaue, Ifugao, famed for its amphitheater-like rice terraces. I was with a group of four other friends to catch Banaue's Imbayah Festival that year. After the festival we proceeded to Batad and spent the night there.
The bahag, or loincloth, is mine, by the way. I got it from a shop in Banaue while everything else from the headgear, the spear, and the wooden shield were lent to me by the inn's owner. I guess he was amused by this half-white guy in a bahag.
Batad's amphitheater-like rice terraces.
Batad is part of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and this is perhaps where one can see the best views of the centuries-old rice terraces.
Getting there takes a little effort that starts with a bumpy jeepney ride from Banaue. Not all trips are bound for Batad, though. So if you happen to be on a jeepney that's headed elsewhere in the province, you have to get off at the "junction" from where you'll start a 1 or 2-hour uphill hike to the "shoulder." If you're lucky, there are jeepneys that go straight up to this "shoulder." From hereon it's a steep descent on foot, then you go through a winding and rolling trail until you reach the village. The trail's pretty simple to follow, so you shouldn't get lost.
Accommodation here is limited to basic inns and home stays, and the last time I was here there was still no electricity. You see, it's really a backpacker's destination.
We arrived late in the afternoon and I "practiced" putting on my bahag. I had to make sure I didn't forget the intricacies of putting it on after asking the shopkeeper in Banaue to teach me how it's done. I basically bought it because I wanted to have my photos taken among the terraces wearing just that and therefore feel like a native Ifugao. Later the other two guys tried theirs as well.
Dress rehearsal. It was a riot.
That evening we were treated to a bonfire by some locals who also taught us some native dance. The dance looked deceptively simple but I felt I really couldn't get the nuances right. Anyway we had fun.
The following morning we took turns in having our photos taken at the inn while in costume. When it was time to go we wore malong over our bahag. We really didn't want to go walking around the village with butt cheeks exposed, do we? But when we finally hit the terraces all malongs were off. Too bad the ladies didn't get themselves costumes.
Dress like natives did we!
My, don't our photos look so epic?
Batad is simply breathtaking.
Trying to reenact rice planting (even though the rice are all grown already). Dang, it must be backbreaking work!
I still couldn't get over the fact that I failed to nail that dance. Trying hard much?
After sashaying across the terraces we made a steep descent through a trail that led to Tappiya Falls. The waterfall was beautiful and the force of the cascading water was fairly strong. After a round of silly photo ops, we took off our bahag, changed into shorts, and then dipped into the refreshingly cool water.
Some "Virgin People" scene, huh? Only it's guys in this case.
More silly photos.
Dipping into these ice-cold waters was perfect after that punishing trek under the sun.
Funny but when swimming time was over we took off our shorts and put our bahag back on. I don't know what happened but the falls seemed to have washed away all our inhibitions that we no longer bothered covering ourselves in malong once we hit the village again by noon. We didn't mind the amused stares and the curious looks.
Since that time I've been back to Batad only once with My Bibe. Looking at these pictures again, I think it's time to go back.