Short History & Information for North Luzon
The Cordillera is a huge, mountainous area in Northern Luzon, defined by the remote provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province & Baguio City (its regional center). The Cordillera is home to numerous indigenous tribes, collectively known as the Igorot.
Banaue’s spectacular rice terraces are known as “the eighth wonder of the world”. with elevations up to 2900 meters.
Baguio City is approximately 250 kilometers north of Manila, it is situated in the Province of Benguet.
The United States were governing after the Spanish-American war a 115 years ago & founded Baguio. Because of the cool climate, they decided to make it a summer capital & a health resort.(Baguio is on average, 8 degrees cooler than the lowlands).
The area of the city is 49 square kilometers. The developed portion of the city is a plateau that rises to an elevation of 1,400 meters. The temperature seldom exceeds 26° centigrade at its warmest & the lowest reading ever, was 6.3° centigrade, recorded in 1961.
On July 16,1990 a great earthquake devastated the city destroying much of its buildings & infrastructure & killing many people. The Baguio Hilton was destroyed completely.
Banaue Rice Terrraces – 8 to 10 hours drive from Manila, departing at 6am, to arrive in the mountains during daylight (Daytime travel only).
These man made wonders that were carved from the mountains by Ifugao tribesmen & evolved over 2000 year period. The terraces were built largely by hand & are situated at an average of 1500 meters (4800 feet) above sea level, they cover 1036 square kilometers (about 400 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rain forests above the terraces.
Still in use today, the locals still tend to the rice & vegetables on the terraces. Although, the Terraces need constant reconstruction & care, they benefit from Unesco maintenence funding.
The Banaue Rice Terraces are said to be the 8th wonder of the world.
Banaue Viewpoint – Four Kilometers along the road from Banaue to Bontoc. At 4800 Ft. the viewpoint provides a perfect view of the enormity & extent of the terraces.
Travellers can strike out for short trips into the surroundings villages (see below).
Batad Rice Terraces – Located at Barangay Batad in Banaue, the Batad Rice Terraces are shaped like an amphitheatre & can be reached by a 12-kilometre Jeepney ride from The Banaue Hotel, then a 1.5 hour hike from the Batad Saddle, downhill through mountain trails to 3600 Ft.or via a 2 hour hike from Batad Junction.
Tappiyah Waterfalls – A demanding 1 hour hike from Batad.
This is one of the most scenic locations in the area. Is a large natural swimming pool with a phenomenal 70 metre falls. A good area for a Picnic.
Banga-An Rice Terraces – The village showcases a typical Ifugao community.
The Banga-an Rice Terraces are accessible via a one hour ride from Banaue Town, then a 20 minutes trek down to the village. It is also walking distance from the Ducligan Warm Springs. It can be viewed best from the road to Mayoyao.
The Mayoyao Rice Terraces – Are located 44 kilometers away from Poblacion, Banaue. The town of Mayoyao lies in the midst of these rice terraces. All the retaining walls are tiered with flat stones.
Tam-an Village – This is a typical Ifugao village, it is adjacent to the Banaue Hotel swimming pool.
Hapao Rice Terraces – 55 kilometers from the capital town of Lagawe.
NOTE: Inclement weather can cause delay in the mountains, ensure you have sufficient time allowed for contingencies in your onward schedule.
Bontoc is the Mountain Province’s capital & crossroads. Its location on the Chico River is spectacular.
Bontoc Museum is well worth visiting, established by Belgian Missionaries, it features artifacts & old photos, including some pictures of the Igorots headhunting days, plus a group of traditional houses.
Sagada – The road between Sagada & Banaue via Bontoc is one of the most beautiful in the mountains.
Sagada is situated at the upper end of a limestone valley between two sandstone ridges. Sagada has numerous scenic spots & points of interest, the valley floor has eroded into a series of outcrops, caves, potholes & underground streams.
The locals of Sagada are called Igorots. The dialect spoken is Kankana-ey.
Agriculture is the main source of income. Cabbages, carrots & potatoes are common crops while rice is planted as the local food source. Sagada benefits significantly from its tourism industry.
It is known for a pleasant climate, nice scenery, rocky terrain, waterfalls, ancient burial caves & hanging coffins, rice terraces & local weaving.
In Sagada you can also explore caves & waterfalls.
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada Sagada village is situated in a pine forest with scattered rock formations. Their death rituals are unique, either they fill up a cave with coffins or they hang the coffins on a cliff face. This is their traditional way of burying people but it is no longer practiced. There are a lot of stories told locally to explain the history of their rites.
To witness the customs here is fascinating cultural experience.Not everybody qualifies to be buried in this way, among other things, you must be married & have grandchildren.
The oldest coffin is more than a century old, the latest addition was put into place a few decades ago.
On the way to Ambasing, perched precariously, four or five coffins are arranged in a pile. In other places around Sagada, one may find these hanging coffins. They are usually in groups, some randomly stacked. All are found in places difficult to reach. These hanging coffins will be there as long as the elements allow.
Things to see & do include a visit to the arts & crafts of the Sagada Weaving Centre, you can also take a short trek in Echo Valley.
Sagada was the home-town of Masferre, a photographer who took photographs of pictures of local head hunters in their daily life during the 1940s & 1950s.
Sumaging – Known as, the big cave, was created by water erosion. Torches & ropes are necessary for exploring the areas caves.
Sumaging has huge chambers & rock formations, some named are: the King’s Curtain, Rice Granary, Cauliflower, Dancing Hall & others.
A Part of Sumaging known as The Tunnel consists of a series of tiny passages requiring physical flexibility to pass through.