After that extreme and life-changing experience in Sagada, I changed my plan to visit Baguio and went to Batad, Ifugao instead. I never thought that this move would restore my faith in humanity. But what does faith in humanity means to you? For me it means believing in the goodness others; that if we treat others with honesty, positivity, fairness, and kindness beautiful things happen. We can be our own source of positive force, which if we use well could help us gain favors from other people.
I left Sagada at 9:00 in the morning and went back to the town proper of Banaue. I didn’t have any itinerary for this trip but I was determined to witness the beauty of Batad Terraces. I arrived during lunch time and had no idea what to do next. So I went to Banaue Tourism Office and asked if I could still make a trip to Batad. They informed me that it was not ideal to go there in the afternoon because the falls has no water. It turned out to be a huge lie and a scheme to discourage me from going so I’d stay in Banaue and join their organized tour instead.
I ended up following this misleading information and booked a Php 250 room for an overnight stay, which is a bit far from the town proper. When I went back to the town for lunch, I saw that there’s a man who seemed to be preparing for a trip to Sagada via a van. I informed him what the tourist center told me and asked if there’s still a chance to go to Batad. He told me there’s a local jeepney that travels to Batad at around 3:00 p.m. It was 1:00 p.m. that time and I asked him if there is an ATM nearby so I can withdraw some cash. He answered, “there is no ATM here.” I checked my wallet and grew worry when I saw that I only had Php 1,050 left.
I immediately drew up some plans:
- PLAN A: Stay in Banaue and just do a tour around the town
- PLAN B: Talk to OHAYAMI bus trans, find out if I could return my ticket for a trip back to Manila, which was set the day after, then exchange it to a Baguio trip on that day
- PLAN C: Check out from the place where I booked my stay in Banaue, ask for a refund, then hope that I’d survive Batad for two days with only Php 1,300, and hopefully have some cash left to get back to Manila
I created a sheet for my possible expenses for my 2-day stay:
- Transportation going to Batad
- Batad Tour
- Transportation back to Banaue
- Transportation back home
I took the risk and chose Plan C. “Whatever will be, will be.” I talked to the owner of the homestay where I checked in and explained my change of plans. Thankfully, she’s very kind and didn’t hesitate to return my payment. Immediately, I went back to the market to catch the 3PM trip to Batad. Exactly as I expected, I rode the jeep with some locals, chickens, eggs, fishes, vegetables, and other boxed items that they bought from the market. Thankfully, I met Maynard, a grade school teacher in Batad. I shared my story with him, that I was traveling Batad on a shoestring budget. In response, he said that he would help me save money as I do the trip #Heavensent. The jeepney tourist fare from Banaue to Batad is Php 150. Maynard advised me to pay only Php 50, which is the local fare. He said that if they question me, I should tell them that he is my uncle, hahaha… When we arrived I gave him my Php 50, which he paid to the driver and then told me to walk fast so they wouldn’t question us.
It’s another 1-hour walk from Saddle to the Batad community. I didn’t expect it to be really tough. While we were walking, Maynard was greeted by the people. Obviously, he is known around the area. I even teased him and called him Kapitana, hahaha… When we arrived in the local community, Maynard introduced me to the locals. Just like what I did with Maynard, I shared them my story especially the fact that I’m travelling on a tight budget. One girl in the cafeteria suddenly said, “You can eat here. Everything on the menu is discounted for you.” I literally wanted to cry at this point because I know that food and drinks in Batad are quite expensive. This is due to the fact that they import their food and drinks from the market of Banaue in the town proper.
There was no signal in the area but I’m thankful for it because it’s a perfect place for communicating and reconnecting with nature. Most inns offer a rate of Php 250 per night for a basic room with a common restroom.
Then I had another dilemma, which I confided with Maynard. The tour to the top view point and Tappiya falls is a bit expensive, especially if I go solo. It’s so expensive that what was left of my money wouldn’t be able to cover it. Lastly, how was I to go back to the town proper of Banaue if the only local jeepney that makes the trip leaves Batad at 9:00 a.m. He told me that we would look for a guide and ask for a discount. As to the trip back to the town, he advised me to hitch hike. I believe it was a good idea so I said, “deal!”
I woke up early in the morning, supposedly to have a breakfast when suddenly Maynard walked in and said that he already found a small group with a tour guide where I could join for the trek to Tappiya Falls. Because they were set to leave anytime soon, I skipped breakfast and immediately prepared myself for what I consider being one of the most anticipated tours of my life.
I shared my story with the tour guide and asked him how much is the fee for this tour. When he answered, “ikaw nang bahala” (it’s up to you), I thought, “jackpot!” My heart jumped with joy; I never thought I’d be this fortunate. I joined two other solo travelers from Germany and Austria who seemed tireless and even walked too fast as we went our way to the falls. I fell behind on our walk because my body still ached from all activities that I did in Sagada. Nevertheless, the closer we got to the rice terraces the more I couldn’t contain my excitement.
I found that taking this trail was easy for me, probably because I had a similar experience going to Bomod-ok Falls. After our less than an hour walk, I heard the sound of water coming from Tappiya Falls, and then I saw it. All I can say is, it was worth all the body pain. It is one of the perfect views I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m absolutely in love with Batad.
We stayed for at least an hour, taking pictures, sharing stories, and of course swimming. We were the first group who arrived that day so it was indeed a more rewarding experience to watch the waterfalls without too many tourists. The water wasn’t that cold compared with the one in Sagada so it’s ideal for swimming.
On our walk back to the community, we took the top view trail. It was more challenging, but when I saw Batad Rice Terraces from that point, I was totally speechless. It was an unexplainable feeling to see the Amphitheater Rice Terraces just right there, in front of me. Despite all difficulties I experienced going there, I’d love to visit this place again someday.
I felt a little nervous going back to Banaue, fearing that the tourists wouldn’t allow me to hitch a ride with them. If I didn’t get a free a ride, I would have to walk for at least 2 to 3 hours to get to Banaue. Thankfully, they allowed me to ride with them for free to the town proper.
Without a question, this is the best buwis buhay (risky) travel I’ve experienced so far. More importantly, it definitely restored my faith in humanity. Showing kindness and honesty to the people I met along the way was worth it. And I’m glad that the people of Ifugao treated me with their overflowing compassion.