April 11, 2009
We had breakfast at ridgebrook hotel in bontoc and checked out early. When we arrived last night, we weren't able to see Bontoc clearly. At day time, going to the mountains again to banaue, Bontoc is truly at the basin, a thriving community nestled at the foot of every mountain on sight. The houses are quite similar in form, multi-storied and clinging to the mountain sides. Most are made of galvanized iron not only for roofing but also as sidings, probably to keep off the cold.
The bontoc-banaue road are mostly under construction. Again, just like the Benguet-bontoc road, the roads are carved from the sides so there's nothing else but mountain on one side and cliff on the other. The Benguet to bontoc road however are in good condition except for the occasional road cuts. I think our taxes are well-spent on these roads. You have to give it to our government to make these areas easily accessible.
As with all mountain roads, there are passes where only one vehicle can get through. On the road going back to bontoc from banaue, we were forced to back up a trail because the driver of the Innova was afraid to proceed forward. Of course, he was on the cliff side so if he slips...We stopped for nature break at MT Polis. Aj could no longer hold her bladder she urinated on her shorts. Taking a pee costs 3 pesos each and 5 if you need to move your bowels. He bought sweatshirts for aj and abby and matching bonnets. I asked if were staying long since he bought them cold wear, he said no he just like seeing them in traditional mountain attires. Well, that's an insight to his personality. That is something more he could teach me, that would be in living in the moment. But i digress..
I bought a sculptured mountain man who is sitting on his butt for 110.00 pesos only. A traditional pose which allows him to function as a cellphone holder. At the Batad viewpoint, we had our pictures taken with old igorots for a fee. Actually, it's only donation. While we were sitting alongside them, aj blurted out "baho-a uy". The darndest thing children could say. Again, i bought a wooden sculpture of the nativity scene for 500 pesos. He bought banaue souvenir t-shirts for me and the kids and even for yaya.
The banaue rice terraces are simply amazing. You have to give it to these people to find ways to make the mountain work for them. They embraced their environment, make do with what is available. How else would you describe large scale farming of rice on sloping land? I have something to learn from these people. While enjoying lunch at Ifugao Province, we never saw beggars on the streets.
Reflecting on these trip to the mountain and ifugao province, i would say that their life is genuinely difficult only in terms of physical and modern conveniences but more than that their spirit is largely uncorrupted. They found a way to make a square peg fit on a round hole and got away with it. I may have a tendency to romanticized everything but the fact remains that, you can't see what their hands have made out of the environment that they are in and made something so great, that it made it to the 7 wonders of the world.