TRAVEL: Puerto Galera, Mindoro

Travel Date: 10 – 13 March 2017

Despite its popularity and its proximity to Manila, I have never been to Puerto Galera. The reputation of the place as a “beach party destination” just didn’t appeal to me.

Sabang Beach

Obviously, I am no longer a Puerto Galera virgin. I went not because of the beach, but for an art and music festival in the mountains. (Read: Malasimbo Art and Music Festival).

We had free time during the mornings until late afternoons. To make the most out of our stay, we decided to check out the town. As expected, there’s more to Puerto Galera (Mindoro, in general) than its beaches.


The Church of Immaculate Conception

From our hostel, my friend and I each took a habal-habal (motorcycle) to take us to town.P_20170313_081354.jpg

The Church of Immaculate Conception looks just like any other ordinary modern church: gated, covered pathway, high school kids gathered around to practice a school play.P_20170311_112456.jpg

Going around the property, we found out that the Church overlooks a harbor where several yachts are docked. The turquoise water was so calming to look at, we decided to chill here for a bit.P_20170311_112629.jpg

Surprising Sinandigan

After the festival, we decided to stay back one more day to explore another barangay nearby. From our AirBNB, we moved to a hostel run by an Australian father-and-son, Paddy’s Backpacker Hostel and Dive Center in Brgy. Sinandigan.


Sinandigan is a barangay a few minutes away from the dive beach of Sabang, Puerto Galera. Unlike the touristy Sabang lined with hostels, hotels and transient homes for travelers and divers, Sinandigan is a quiet residential barangay. There were only two hostels in the area.

We decided to get lost and see what it had to offer.

Playa Beach

Following a narrow path near out hostel, we stumbled upon this raw beauty of a beach. ‘Playa’ is Spanish for ‘beach’. It was so raw, the locals just call it Playa.P_20170312_142829.jpg

It was pretty much a ghost town (ghost beach?). Lined with abandoned divers’ resorts, it has it’s own dock that looks out to crashing waves. The dilapidated hotels were a bit disconcerting. But being in an isolated part of town, it was also weirdly calming.P_20170312_143357.jpg

Sinandigan Lighthouse

We came across a local in the area who told us about a lighthouse not far away. With nothing else to do, we took off to look for our next destination.P_20170312_145154.jpg

Now, when locals tell you it’s not far, don’t believe them. Distance is relative, so be prepared to walk for hours. As always, getting lost is always part of the fun! We walked over an hour through narrow alleys, open fields and foliage paths; and – if there was anyone around – ask for directions until we reached our destination.  P_20170312_151120.jpg

View from the lighthouse
Marion atop the lighthouse

Tamaraw Falls

Our next stop took almost an hour ride of habal-habal across quaint little towns, beautiful seascapes and daunting mountain walls. Tamaraw Falls is located along the main highway that connects Puerto Galera to Calapan.P_20170313_084027.jpgP_20170313_084013.jpgP_20170313_084618.jpg

This 423-foot drop twin falls is named after Mindoro Dwarf Buffalos, which are native only to the island of Mindoro. A public wading pool and picnic area is located at the foot of the falls, where tourists can rest and enjoy the scenery for a fee.

The Grotto

Being a coastal town, Puerto Galera has many beaches both public and private. On our way back, we spotted a man-made Grotto built over rock boulders overlooking a random beach. We stopped by to take in the wonderful view of this province for one last time.P_20170313_092038.jpgP_20170313_091222.jpg

As an archipelago of 7,641 islands (with more undiscovered popping up), our country offers more than just beach parties. Whether you are into mountain hiking, chasing waterfalls, lake swims, scuba diving, and whatnot, the Philippines is blessed with natural wonders every kind of traveler can enjoy.

Ingat and see you on the road!

How to get there:

Take a bus bound for Batangas Pier (Pasay, Cubao or Alabang Terminals). Php 150 – 250.

From Batangas Pier, take a ferry going to Sabang – about an hour. Php 230. 

Where to stay:

Paddy’s Bar and Backpackers Accommodation and Dive Centre offers dorm rooms for as low as Php 250. Run by father-and-son tandem Paddy and Spud, they also offer scuba lessons care of their in-house dive master Lorenzo. Follow their Facebook Fan Page here:

Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at

TRAVEL: Malasimbo Art and Music Festival 2017

Super mega late post!

Travel date: 10 – 13 March 2017

The Malasimbo Art and Music Festival is an annual event held within the natural amphitheater on Mt. Malasimbo, Puerto Galera.P_20170310_170824.jpg

Now on it’s 7th year, this year’s line up  featured international artists such as Alfredo Rodriguez, Jordan Rakei, Manila – based June Marieezy, and local acts such as Apartel (Ely Buendia’s latest band), Bras Pas Pas and artists from different parts of the country.

P_20170311_233954.jpgP_20170310_183517.jpgAside from music, it also aims to promote the indigenous tribe of Mangyan providing them a platform for their culture and handicrafts.

There are two stages to choose from: the main stage and the Mangyan Village stage. Headliners play at the main stage while the Mangyan Village stages talks on eco-tourism, the Mangyan people and up and coming musicians. This is also where the “silent disco” takes place. For a fee, you get to choose your music genre, get your own noise-cancelling headphones and dance the night away. It can be pretty funny people-watching here.

The festival also features art installations from local artists, including art from the festival’s co-founder, Olivia d’Aboville.

Giant daffodils made from plastic by artist Olivia d’Aboville
Marion stopping to smell (?) the flowers
Looks like a school of fish swimming towards moonlight
I have no idea what this one is

The festival runs for 3 days, with ticket options for single- and multiple – day passes. The event offers a campsite for those who opted to stay for the entire show.

Jeepney transport for Malasimbo Art and Music Festival

As for those who chose to stay outside of Mt. Malasimbo, there are jeepney pick-up and drop-off points strategically located around Puerto Galera. My group stayed in Sabang, a diving spot about an hour away from the venue.

This is my first time to attend the event. While I find it a bit too ‘hipster’ for my very basic taste (raise your hands, Mariah Carey fans!), I loved the fact that they get to feature regional acts on stage. My favorite would have to be Kawangis ng Tribu, an ethno-modern band from Palawan.P_20170310_193555.jpg

With Kawangis ng Tribu vocalist, Pag-asa. Weird and funny back story: Marion and I were walking around the venue when I saw her looking out from backstage. Having enjoyed their performance moments before, I smiled at her and said ‘Galing niyo! (You were great!)’. She smiled back and eagerly waved at me to come over. We started talking about their awesome music and their performance, about their flight from Palawan, when their next performance is, and how she has been looking for me since this afternoon… when it suddenly hit me. She thought I was someone else! I then awkwardly told her that I was just a fan, and she might have mistaken me for someone else. We were both laughing by the end of it and decided to take a photo for posterity.




The event was well organized, with safety checkpoints manned by both military troops and the police. Each person is frisked thoroughly and each bag checked carefully.

Outside food and drinks are not allowed inside the venue – not even water. This makes the event even more expensive, especially with the very limited and very expensive options for food and drinks within the event grounds (drinks were triple the price of regular). While transportation terminals are also well appointed, waiting time can take a while (the longest time we waited for the jeepney to leave was almost 2 hours).

Would I go back to next year’s Malasimbo Art and Music Festival? I am not sure. While the objective of the event is noble, the art installations compelling and the music stimulating, the event itself feels a bit too highbrow for me. But as always, the beautiful view and the relaxing vibes of nature always makes up for everything.

To know more about Malasimbo Music and Art Festival, like their Facebook fan page here:

Ingat and see you on the road!

 Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at

TRAVEL: Traversing Mt. Cinco Picos to Silaguin Cove, Zambales

Travel Date: February 25-26 2017

Zambales is a province northwest of Manila, about 4 hours away. It has recently gained popularity amongst the younger generation of travelers because of its majestic Cawag mountain range and isolated coves ideal for day hikes, traversing and camping. (For the uninitiated, a traverse is crossing a mountain from point A to point B.)

I have always been reluctant about traversing. The thought of carrying everything with me all throughout the climb tires me out already. But after conquering Mt. Balingkilat (the highest peak of the Zambales Cawag Mountian Range) – Nagsasa Cove – a traverse that lasted 13 hours through a freaking typhoon, mountain-to-sea doesn’t seem so bad after all. The beach at the end feels like a reward after a grueling hike.

A rocky start.

Mt. Cinco Picos literally means Five Peaks and is part of the Cawag Mountain Range. Because majority of its trail is open, we decided to do an afternoon – night trek. We started at 3pm, crossing dry, rocky riverbeds and grasslands.


Due to time constraints, we decided to pass through campsite and head straight to peak 1. We reached the first summit at around 730pm, for camp, dinner and socials.

We were the only group in the mountain –  a novelty nowadays when climbing and the reason why I prefer going North (versus climbing around Cavite, Batangas and Rizal). We woke up at 6am to see the wonderful sunrise.


Unfortunately for me, I woke up with a really massive headache. I had to stay back at camp while two of my teammates explore peak 2.P_20170226_065845.jpg

We weren’t able to scale all five peaks, since this would require two or three more hours (and my hangover was really bad).

Subic Bay
Silanguin Cove

Once complete, we broke camp and started the trek down to Silanguin Cove. It was a relatively easy descent, considering my headache. It took us 3 hours to reach the cove, passing by yet dramatic landscapes.

P_20170226_080235.jpgThere were a lot of kaingin or burnt clearing during our hike. Our guide told us it was to make way for wider trails. But do we really need to burn down large chunks of land? Hmmm.P_20170226_092358.jpg

The water was calm when we arrived… until it started raining. 
All to ourselves! 

Unlike the more popular coves of Anawangin and Nagsasa, Silanguin Cove is almost isolated. There was only one other group leaving when we reached our resort host. Like the mountain, we had the resort all to ourselves yet again! Curiously, we spotted several yachts docked nearby. Kanino kaya ‘yon?

We had a few hours to spare before going home. We ate brunch, slept and dipped in the waters to cool down. The warm water was a relief to our sore legs. It was the perfect way to recover from the massive hangover (never again!!!) and to end our traverse.

Team Silanguin

Ingat and see you on the road!

How to get there:

Take a Victory Liner bus bound for Olongapo. (Php 250)

Take the blue jeepney that will bring you to Subic Town. (Php 20)

Hire a tricycle to take you to the jump off point (Php 100)

The hike will require you to have a guide and a contact in Silanguin. To experience Zambales like a local, you may contact Tim or Chie at: +63919 991 5494 or +63998 862 7015 or like their Facebook Fan Page here: They specialize in personalized local tours – ideal for solo travelers and small groups.

Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at




TRAVEL: Alibijaban, Quezon Province + San Pascual, Masbate

Travel date: 14 -18 December 2016

Alibijaban (A-li-bee-ha-ban). It’s a mouthful. Much like its’ name, it’s also pretty hard to go to. For one, travel time from Alabang to Alibijaban can go up to 10 hours straight. Another: There are no air conditioned buses heading to San Andres, Quezon. Imagine how uncomfortable it can get during summer.

After arriving at the municipality San Andres, going to the island takes about 30 minutes of boat ride crossing the narrow channel separating the island from the tip of Quezon Province.

While the people living in the island already enjoy internet and cable TV, much of its way of life are still very much provincial. Electricity has daily cut-off times, and there are no paved roads. Dogs roam around freely – along with carabaos, tamaraws, chickens and pigs. It is a good mix of simple and modern living.

Day One: Island Hopping

On our first day in the island, our boatman Kuya Randy’s wife, Ate Jen invited us to join her and her friends for the day. It was her friend’s son’s birthday and they were going island hopping to celebrate. We eagerly said yes. There’s no better way to experience a new place than with locals, after all!P_20161215_062649.jpgP1080798.JPG

Boat 1 (with unli beer and unli food) at the foreground, and boat 2. Guess where I was seated.

We left Alibijaban around 7am for our first destination: Animasola Island.

Reaching Animasola Island.

P1080815.JPGP1080816.JPGP1080819.JPGP1080823.JPGThe island is about 2 hours away from Alibijaban, and is already a part of San Pascual, Masbate. It features exotic rock formations resembling Kapurpurawan in Ilocos – only smaller and darker.P1080825.JPG

PAK! Mowdeling!


P1080851.JPGP1080832.JPGP1080854.JPGP1080860.JPGOur group decided to have our brunch here. We sat on the rocky beach and shared meals and overflowing beer. It was here that I noticed an interesting fact of the Alibijaban life: women can handle their beer better than men.

I was with my people!
Found out that Beer na Beer is actually pretty good, even in room temperature!

After enjoying our meal and beer, we moved to our next destination (and my favorite): Tinalisayan Island.

Unli beer on boat.

P_20161215_115721.jpgThe island has all sorts of beaches you can imagine: rocky, white sand and pebbly!P_20161215_120808.jpgP_20161215_120816.jpg

P1080871.JPGP_20161215_121216.jpgStill part of San Pascual, Tinalisayan has two islands: Malaki and Maliit. Tinalisayan Maliit features a sand bar, camping grounds (with proper toilet) and white sand beach. Ideal time to go is early morning or late afternoon to catch the sandbar.P1080880.JPGWe went Maliit (small) – and it literally was. It took me about 10 minutes to go around. Our host says it is a popular camping site amongst travelers because of its isolation. But due to its size, the island becomes crowded during the weekend.


With our tummies bursting from good food and our heads dazed with alcohol, we moved to our last island: Isla de Sombrero.

Approaching Sombrero Island.
I didn’t take much photo of the place because it was too touristy for my taste.


Sombrero Island features a long stretch of white sand beach. It has three separate resorts with cottages, vast campsites, beach volleyball and videoke to boot! The place is perfect for barkada or family trips.

While the first two islands we went to were free, Sombrero Island has a stricter policy on entrance fees (very minimal). So be prepared to pay for it should you decide to go there.

After a few photo ops, we decided to leave the island and head back to Alibijaban.

Day Two: Mangroves

Day two was for the Mangroves.P_20161216_111005.jpgP1080920.JPGP1080924.JPGP1080925.JPGThe mangrove site can be reached on foot or via boat. We opted to take the boat for quick tour. The island boasts of having one of the most expansive and unspoiled mangrove forest in the country.


John Lloyd! No, seriously, his name is John Lloyd.

Camping is allowed in the area. Just make sure you have insect repellant.

Day Three: Beach Bum

Day three was spent building sand castles, exploring the town and bumming on a hammock by the beach. There wasn’t much to do, aside from watching weekend travelers arrive.


Locals looking for shellfish.

P1080948.JPGP1080962.JPGP1080965.JPGP1080970.JPGP1080974.JPGP1080977.JPGP_20161217_063807_BF.jpgP_20161217_100114_BF.jpgAlibijaban is safe for solo travelers and is ideal for travelers who prefer the peace and quiet of an island life versus the party atmosphere most beaches in Manila offers. Also, the people are so unbelievable warm and friendly. Probably because the island is so small, everyone is literally family. P1080979.JPG

How to get there:

To go directly to San Andres, board SUPERLINES or BARNEY BUS LINES at the Starmall terminal in Alabang. Around 400php.

Follow BARNEY bus line Facebook Fan Page for inquiries on schedules (They reply!) :

From San Andres, ask around for the port and ride the boat heading to Alibijaban. Php 500 (RT, 2pax)

For boat transfer and island hopping, contact Kuya Randy at 0998.275.8413



There are no ATMs in the island, bring enough cash.

If you can, take the first trip from Cubao or Alabang, so you can arrive at the island early to maximize your stay.

Camping is allowed in the island. You can camp beachfront of near the mangroves. Should you decide to camp out by the mangroves, be ready with your insect repellant.

Your campsite may require you to pay an environmental fee of Php 100.

Not sure how much our homestay accommodation is, but we were charged Php3,500 for three nights and three days stay, plus island hopping and mangrove tour. (2pax)

Enjoy and see you on the road!

Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at



Travel Date: 7-9 February 2016

Date Published: 28 April – 4 May 2016, Issue 367

Visit for the actual article.


Title: Surviving Sagada

Sagada has always been on my bucket list. As a kid, the farthest place I’ve ever been to was Baguio. Anything beyond the Summer Capital was a place of mystery to me. To my young mind, Sagada was a foreign land where people looked and dressed differently and have rituals and customs that involved dancing and fire.

In between clouds at Mt. Kiltepan

Two decades later, my wanderlust for Sagada is still there, further ignited by the cult-movie “That Thing Called Tadhana” (starring Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman), which was set on location. So when a friend said she has a week off from work and had nowhere to go, I immediately set out to plan an itinerary to backpack the Cordilleras for the second time – this time including Sagada.

Arriving there, I felt that all those years prepared me for this moment. Or not.

So. How did I survive Sagada? Let me count the ways:

1. Cardio.

Sagada is a municipality in the Mountain Province, nestled in a valley between the Cordillera and the Ilocos ranges. The town is small enough to be explored on foot – if you have the energy and the stamina for it.

Because of its’ geography, the place is often sloping, so be prepared for uphill walks. Our group got a van to go around. However, we still got a lot of “workouts” in, since most tourist spots involve physical activities. To see the famous hanging coffins, we had to do a hike through Echo Valley.

The famed hanging coffins of Sagada.

Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave also tested our endurance and flexibility. A more hardcore version of it will be the Cave Connection of Lumiang and Sumaguing. But that one’s for my next visit.

on all-fours inside Sumaguing Cave

2. Layer

We went there on the coldest month of the year, February. It was freezing, as temperature dropped below 10°C. So if you want to survive 5am Mt. Kiltepan temperature while waiting for sunrise or enjoy a bonfire dinner at Lake Danum at sunset, wear at least 5 layers of clothing. A friend even had to bring the hostel blanket to Mt. Kiltepan. It was that cold.

Sunset over Lake Danum
Bonfire gangsta’s at Lake Danum

3. Smile

The first thing I noticed upon arriving in Sagada was the number of tourists. There were a lot! This was kind of a disappointment for me, seeing that in my head, it was supposed to be a mysterious isolated place. The downside of this is that you will have to share your “emo-moment” as you watch the sea of clouds roll over Mt. Kiltepan with a hundred other people.IMG_0081.JPG

On the upside, you will get to meet a lot of people, maybe even find a friend or two. Sagada Pine Café is a quaint little café in the morning that turns into a chill watering hole at night, where a lot of travelers (both Pinoys and foreigners) hang out. Better practice your best smile, your tadhana might be in the crowd. Mine was somewhere else.

4. Talk

I always make it a point to befriend a local or at least talk to them at length. This way, I get to know more about a place than what I find in the internet.

Inside Sumaguing Cave

Despite the influx of tourists, Sagada still does not feel as tourist-y as, say Bohol, where tour guides already have memorized spiels, and souvenir shops look dingy and frightening. Establishments here are well-maintained, charmingly homey and often offers “specials” such as The Yoghurt House and Gaia Café and Restaurants (vegan food).

Gaia Cafe was in the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana”. The chair next to me is yet to filled.

This un-tourist-y feeling of a very tourist-y place is unsettling for me, and I mentioned this to our guide. He says it’s because all businesses are locally owned. By law, outsiders can’t buy properties in Sagada nor can they open businesses. This is to maintain the culture of Sagada while creating opportunities for livelihood for the locals.

Another fact I discovered: majority of the Igorots in Sagada are Anglicans. In the 333 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines, the Spaniards were unable to penetrate the Cordilleras because of the remoteness of the place. So when the American Episcopal Missionaries came to the country in the 1900s, they went straight to the mountains to instigate their faith in the Igorot culture.

St. Mary Episcopal Church

Would my younger self love it had she been with me to Sagada? I’m not really sure, since she expected fire dancing and rituals. I, on the other hand, would want to explore every nook and cranny of the town, and learn more about the culture and people. While the biggest setback for me is the number of tourists there, I feel that Sagada still has gems hidden under its beautiful surface.

No fire rituals, just beautiful people and crazy adventures.

Ingat and see you on the road!

Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at  

TRAVEL CORDILLERA CHRONICLES: Tappiya Falls in Batad, Banaue, Ifugao

Travel Date: 5-7 February 2016

Date Published: 14-20 April 2016, Issue 366

Visit for the actual article.


Beyond Batad: Falling in Love with Tappiya Falls

“Yesterday didn’t feel touristy. Like we were just exploring as we went along.”

That was how one friend described our short Batad trip. Batad is a small town in the province of Ifugao, about 30-minutes of tricycle ride away from Banaue Town Proper. While the former remains the most popular tourist destination, Batad has been gaining attention from travelers because of its majestic and unspoiled Amphitheater Terraces and Tappiya Falls. Located in the valley, the waterfall is about an hour’s trek away from the edge of the Batad ridge.

The cluster of houses at the top is where the jump-off to Tappiya Falls is located.

It was raining when our group crossed the great terraces. The slippery paddies challenged my balance and core strength (which is nearly non-existent!). It was a choice between falling in a mud bath with freshly planted rice stalks or a bone breaking seven-foot drop on the other.

Close encounter with the terraces.

After the strenuous and stressful hike jumping from one unstable rock to the next, we finally reached the edge of the terraces. We took a much-needed rest at a small store to revive our energy. A few steps from the store is a narrow stone stairway that serves as start-off point of the trail.

Batad from the other side.

We started the trek down the slippery steps, which was surprisingly easy to navigate. However, I would hold back on underestimating the trail – and any other trail for that matter. As a personal mantra, I always follow the ABC of traveling: Always Be Careful. While the way to Tappiya Falls is well established, it IS narrow and steep. Just one wrong step can cause you to fall off the ravine.

If walking through Batad Rice Terraces gave one the option of falling over a muddy pool or dropping on a rocky seven-foot plunge on the other, traversing the route to Tappiya Falls gave us only one scary option: falling off a deep watery gorge to our right. The rocky wall on the left became my best friend, holding on to it as I carefully trudged the slippery path.

DSC_0107.JPGOn the plus side, the view, as always, was stunning. The gorge is truly spectacular, with the river snaking away from the waterfall and the lush green forest framing it.

Finally reaching Tappiya Falls, we marveled at its imposing and powerful beauty. From its apex, the water rushes down at about 70 meters high. Our guide told us to stay by the banks as the strong current might swallow us. I decided against taking a dip in the falls because of this (I am not a very good swimmer). But the water was inviting, especially after the sweat water-work of our descent. I decided to just go for it, carefully balancing my way on the rocky floor of the riverbank.

Contemplating if I’m going in or not.

DSC_0110.JPGThe water is freezing cold, my body needed to acclimate a bit before I can actually relax and enjoy the water and the view. The 30 minutes we spent frolicking and enjoying the peace of the place was worth the one-hour hike we did to reach it.IMG_4681.jpg

We had no concrete plan for Batad. We even had to cut it down from an overnight stay to a day-trip because of the rainy weather. But that leg of our 7-day backpacking trip was definitely a highlight of our Cordillera tour.


It gave us everything we expected and more: from a challenging hike through heavily forested trail to crossing the 2,000 year-old world wonder; dipping in the cold waters of Tappiya Falls and the much needed isolation from the rest of the world, we indeed became “one with nature” in the truest sense. The short day spent here was enough for us to fall in love with Tappiya Falls and Batad.

Read about Batad and know how to get there here.

Ingat and see you on the road!

Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at  


Travel Date: February 5-7, 2016

Date Published: 7-13 April 2016, Issue 365

Visit for the actual article.



It was late in the afternoon and we were sitting by the veranda of our hostel in Banaue, Ifugao watching the rain. We’ve just arrived that morning, and it has been pouring non-stop. Everything was covered in thick fog and we were stuck indoors. We even came up with a moniker for our situation: iFOGao.


Sitting there, I noticed that Banaue has become more of a commercial center for tourists. Low-rise buildings are clustered everywhere. A seven-story parking lot is being built right across our hostel, while tour vans lugging Koreans and Chinese line the narrow road. Needless to say, Banaue was quite a disappointment.IMG_4753.jpg

Banaue was supposed to just be a stopover on our way to Batad, a lesser known part of the Mountain Province. It is a small village in Ifugao, about one and half hour from Banaue Town Proper. But because of the weather, we decided to stay the night.


The following day, our group took a tricycle to bring us to Saddle Point – the drop-off point before the hike going to Batad. The trip from Banaue to Saddle Point goes through a winding road. The roar of the motorcycle, along with the dampness of the weather and the doleful grayness of the view gave the journey a peaceful, almost reflective feel.

The long and winding road to Saddle Point.

We arrived at Saddle Point and started the trek down, stopping by a small store to rent walking sticks. This was also where we met our tour guide for the day: Basir, a pretty 11-year old Igorota.

The group with our awesome guide, Basir.

Batad lies on a lower elevation compared to Banaue, hence the descending trek. The trail was muddy, slippery and stressful. My short (but ever-reliable) legs had to flex and stretch to reach the unstable stones that lined the towering pilapil or dikes.

Trekking down Batad.
See the homes clustered together middle-center? That’s where we were headed.

After about half an hour, we were finally standing in the middle of the Batad Rice Terraces. With the sun out, the fog dispersed and we were treated to jaw-dropping view of Batad.

Batad is known for its “amphitheater” terraces.
Stopping to admire the view… and catch my breath.

The Ifugaos made this wonder 2,000 years ago using only their hands and legs as their tools and machinery; and mud and stones as their raw materials. The result is an endless stretch of green “steps” carved on the side of the mountain.

The vastness of it definitely made me feel small and insignificant. Standing in the middle of it all made nature feel more magnified. I can’t help but imagine waking up to watch Haring Araw (Sun King) embrace the landscape in his warmth while Amihan (Wind Goddess) caresses my face. I immediately regretted not spending the night there and promised to come back in the future.

I wonder how this would look like when it’s endless green!

Banaue Rice Terraces may be the world-famous man-made wonder of the world, but if you want to see the majestic beauty of unspoiled rice terraces, skip Banaue and head straight to Batad.

How to get there:

From Manila, take the Ohayami bus going straight to Banaue.

From Banaue, there are two jeepney trips that leave for Saddle Point daily: one in the morning (around 9am) and in the afternoon (around 3pm). (Php 150).

You can also rent a tricycle. (Php 800).

From Saddle Point, trek down until you reach a store. Ask if Basir is around to guide you. (Walking sticks for rent : Php 20, Guide fee: no standard fee, but tip generously. The money is used for Basir’s schooling).

Ingat and see you on the road!

Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at