1000 Peso Bill and the Banaue Rice Terraces
Wrapping up the day, I thought Denwil would be bringing us to a normal hotel. However, he had something else on his mind. We really had no plans as to where we would be staying in Banaue
and where would we be spending a night at the town. Denwil had better plans for us. He reserved a space for us in Banaue Ethnic Village. The place was few minutes away off the town proper, it is a compound with beautiful garden, native ifugao huts for guests to stay and a corner showcasing ifugao huts and their evolution - from a tent looking hut to an elevated hut. However, there's a catch. There was no electricity on the compound.
Denwil planned for a "picnic" where he would be cooking for our dinner.
Real Ifugao Mummy
So before we went to the village, we first dropped by the town market to buy ingredients for our pork sinigang and we also bought the brown rice which is harvested from the rice terraces.
However, before going straight to the village where we will be spending our night, we went to the viewing deck where the terraces are visible as the one sketched on our 1000 peso bill. Next to it was a house with a real mummy. It was my second time to be there so I was not really excited but Jorge and Mich were so into it.
We arrived at the banaue Ethnic Village before darkness ate the whole place. So unpacking and all was easy because of the remaining day light. As we settled and as the sun set, the three of us were not so comfortable with the setting of having no electricity and to top it, was getting really cold.
This place could get really cold at night. We settled in an ifugao house which was customized to have its own toilet. So it was not really the conventional ifugao hut with a queen size bed and a single bed for us. As darkness came, it was then that we realized that we were the only guests on the village for that night. Denwil together with his brother, Ryan prepared everything for our food including going back to the town proper to get us cooking wares and plates and everything. I never met a guide so willing to extend so much for his guests.
Cooking time started with us helping the brothers, we only had 5 candles, I was worried that it might not last the whole night. The brothers however was not bothered at all. They know a type of wood which easily burns to be used as our source of light.
it was either fern wood or pine wood, I was not really sure. Details like that slipped my mind because we were just so excited about the novelty of what we were experiencing - alone in the middle of no where, where the pale moonlight was the only source of light besides the fire from our cooking. Due to boredom as we waited for the rice and the pork tamarind stew to be cooked, Ryan offered us to try the moist dried tobacco leaf. I am a smoker and I thought I knew how tobacco should taste, but I was wrong. The first chew of it was nothing, it was like chewing some grass but as the extract of the tobacco started mixing with my saliva, it was when I started to feel the burning sensation on my mouth down to my throat. I swore not to chew tobacco again. Ever. :)
Once everything was done, Denwil, quite proud of his cooking started to narrate local stories of their ancestors, of their dreams, of their rituals and many others.
He had so much interesting stories to tell. We were like kids devotedly listening to him as we finished our dinner. Even after eating, Denwil was still unstoppable with his stories. We set up a bonfire as we continued sharing stories. We brought few bottles of beer with us, so booze made this camping a lot more fun. Anyway, Mich being the only girl in the group was not rally concerned about it though we got a warning from his dad that if anything bad happened to her, we would surely be accountable for it. We were friends for months and things his father were worried were the farthest thing on our mind. :)
We were there to be away, to have fun and to make my last few weekends in the Philippines, well, something I want to remember as I go back to Singapore.
Traditional Ifugao House
After 2 bottles of San Mig Pale Pilsen, a surprised visit by a civet cat and dropping temperature, I just simply can't stay up. I only wanted to sleep since it was really getting late. So there, we said good nights to each other, went to our native hut, the brothers went back to the van to spend the night. The next thing I remembered was the alarm from Mich's phone. By the way, the signal in that area was so poor that Jorge had a hard time talking to Joy his girl friend who is in Singapore.
And there was sunrise, and time for coffee. We went up to the cafeteria for my nicotine and caffeine daily morning fix. After our coffee for breakfast we went back to the hut, packed our things, billed out and enjoyed the garden. As we approached the gate of the village, we were brought to a corner with ifugao huts.
Banaue Rice Terraces
Apparently, it was like a museum for the evolution of ifugao huts. Interestingly, the changes from the most basic to the latest hut was so obvious. The caretaker explained to us as to why such changes. We stayed there for almost an hour, taking photos, listening to the explanation and having fun.
We left the place with nothing but good words for it. Then we went back to the town in the view deck of Banaue. Mich bought a lot of wooden carvings for his parents as we enjoyed the sight of the Banaue Rice Terraces. Then back to town for our real breakfast and the next thing I knew, we were on our way to Bangaan, another cluster of rice terraces declared as UNESCO heritage site.