January 27, 2012

Breakfast View

Batad rice terraces - one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Philippines. You feel nothing less than awe once you are there marveling at the grand scene before you. You can stand there for hours pondering how generations of Ifugaos have carved the mountain side into an amphitheater of rice terraces.

But do you know that Batad needs help nowadays? Years of neglect and natural disasters have marred this beautiful piece of engineering. The first time I saw it I could not help but notice this huge landslide on one side of the mountain.

Several folks who have been frequenting Batad felt that we too, not just the locals, have the responsibility to preserve the place. We benefit from it as much as the locals do, or maybe more. Thus the "Bachang (Badchang) Initiative" was born.

Bachang: Revive the Batad Rice Terraces
Bachang initiative

I have been most fortunate to play a very small part in the preparation for the kick off. We set off to Batad one sunny weekend, riding on the top of a jeep, to deliver tools, computers, and school supplies donated by various kind hearted individuals. We were a motley crew but with a common goal.

Topload to Batad
top load

From the main town of Banaue, it takes about 1.5 hours along rough yet scenic road. Riding "top-load" is the best way to go if you want to have a first class view of the scenery. Yes it looks dangerous and foolhardy (several foreigners we met along the way are making signs of the cross :D) but its actually safe. The jeep took us all the way to the Saddle Ridge, the trail head going to Batad village. From there its all on foot.

Bayanihan in Batad
unloading

Tools and Stuff for Batad
donated tools and stuff

From Saddle its a mostly downhill hike to the village. The scene along way is already an excellent indication of how beautiful our destination was. A friend and I hiked ahead of the main group as "advance party". I was practially running, too excited to see Batad. Our guide said its about an hour hike. We left our guide eating dust, we made it in about 30 minutes :D.

Batad Trek Scenery
trail view

The first scene that greeted me once we reached the "Viewpoint", a ridge overlooking the main village and the rice terraces below was simply too awe-inspiring. I practically just stood there, trying to catch my breath while taking in this grand scene before me.

First look at Batad
first look

Awed by Batad
awed by Batad

Grand View
grand view

The rest of the day was spent organizing logistics and scouting locations for the kick-off activity, but there were some opportunities to shoot the place, especially near sundown and sunset.

Batad Later Afternoon

Batad Afternoon Light

Here are some sunrise and early morning scenes:

Batad Sunrise

Batad After Sunrise

Batad Warm Morning Light

I left Batad that weekend fully convinced that this special place needs all the help it can get. Its something that needs to be seen, experienced, and appreciated by generations to come. I will be back soon.

About Bachang
Bachang ('vfa-dchang) or Baddang means "Bayanihan" in Ifugao dialect. Traditionally, the Ifugao's held the Bachang to assist a farmer in performing farm chores or house repairs. Bachang will be a work-in progress activity in Batad Village. On top of the usual tour packages and itinerary in Banaue, the community of Batad is opening their doors to all VolunTOURISTS to a unique participatory activity of "stonewalling" in order to restore and rehabilitate the damaged portions of the rice terraces during the past typhoons.

Be a Batad Weekend Warrior and help fight for the restoration and rehabilitation of the Batad Rice Terraces. Visit the Batad Weekend Warror Facebook page.
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Photos by Allan Barredo unless stated otherwise. No photos or any part of this post may be downloaded and reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the owner. But feel free to share the link using any of the sharing buttons below.
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