March 11, 2019
“You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live, you learn. You’re human, not perfect. You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive. Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to chase the things you love. Sometimes there is sadness in our journey, but there is also lots of beauty. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when we hurt, for we will never know what is waiting for us just around the bend.” ~ unknown
But its beauty cannot be captured in pictures. You have to see it with your very own eyes, the way we did and we felt its mysterious enigmatic beauty and breathed the crisp fresh mountain air. We climbed Mount Pulag, Luzon’s highest peak at 2,926m, the third highest mountain in the Philippines and witnessed the most magical sunrise revealing a 360 degree view of the mountain tops of the Cordillera.
Our expedition then continued with a trek around Bangaan Rice Terraces, a UNESCO world heritage site. It was fantastic to mingle and chat with the local villagers as we discovered the history of the Ifugao tribe. After lunch, it was a continuous ascent weaving through the valleys on a backdoor trail to our homestay perched at 1100m . Our arduous trek was rewarded with the most astonishing surprise of amphitheatre-like riceterraces in Baad, the most famous UNESCO world heritage site. As part of our Ifugao sojourn, we heard first hand, stories from the locals and learned how to pound rice to make traditional wine and even participated in betel nut (Nga-nga) chewing. We were treated each day with a mesmerising sunset and sunrise, and postcard perfect views. We even met the now famous traditional weaver who laboured to make the dress worn by Ms Universe 2018 for the pageant.
The next morning we ascended, descended countless flights of steps and balanced along unbelievable narrow paths to get to a stunning 70m Tappiyah waterfalls, tucked in between the mountains of Banaue. Tappiyah is a local term that translates into “splash” in English.
Going to this wonder requires a walk through tortuous, precipitous and rather treacherous trail. It surely is not for the faint-hearted but the experience and the waterfalls ‘beauty is more than rewarding. To reach the falls, we had to cross through the verdant and stunning Batad Rice Terraces, maneuver a landslide prone downhill slope, and carefully climb hanging steps that further tested our trekking skills. Extra caution needed as it was a steep descent to the waterfalls. We often shared the trail with group of school children of all ages trekking to school twice a day. Again, we were rewarded with the glorious sight of the magnificent falls and the very (very! )cold swim was the best antidote for our now aching muscles.
The long, far reaching extended journey from plane to van to coach to jeepney and finally by foot was one of the most memorable trips we have taken with mountain sisters who not only looked out for one another but shared an unforgettable journey together.
January 16, 2020
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