Showing posts with label Ramon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ramon. Show all posts

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ifugao & Isabela: Trip to Mayoyao, Ifugao

After six hours on an evening bus, I found myself in Santiago, Isabela at 3:30 in the morning. It was a good thing I took the deluxe bus of Victory Liner since the ride was really comfortable. It was my first major local trip since I got back after close to three months abroad. We were meeting up with the organizers of the Mayoyao harvest experience in Santiago. And together, we would make the rough trip to the remote Ifugao town of Mayoyao on a hired rickety bus.

Josh, the president of the group, is my colleague from the Cultural Citizens Program and we were together in Illinois last month. Since we had arrived in Santiago earlier than expected (our ETA was 6 a.m. but the deluxe bus travels non-stop), we were able to make an unscheduled stop in Magat Dam before making our way to Mayoyao. I had been there once before as part of a heritage tour of Cagayan Valley.

There's another dam called Maris Dam (short for Magat River Irrgation System) which we passed by on the way to Mayoyao. Both dams are at the boundaries of Ramon, Isabela and Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. We were able to take photos of the fishermen dwarfed by the smaller dam before proceeding.

It was a wonder how I was able to doze off during that long bumpy ride. The next thing I knew, it was 7:30 a.m. and we had stopped over in Ubao in the town of Aguinaldo for breakfast. In the olden days, Ubao was known as a hunting area. But that is no longer the case today. Aside from the fact that hunting deer is illegal, deer are scarce.

We were back on the road a little later. Again, I dozed off. But I tried to keep myself awake so as not to miss some good views since we were not passing by this road on the way back to Manila. Before leaving the town of Aguinaldo, we passed by a waiting shed where a woman was selling moma (betel nut) and hapid leaves as well as a local kakanin called pinang-it which is known as bakle in Kiangan. I noticed a sign which said the curfew in this area was at 8:30 p.m. You must be kidding?! Then it hit me that we were out in the middle of nowhere.

Occasionally, we'd pass by clusters of houses along the road with freshly-harvested palay in bundles being dried under the sun. And there are the scarce trips of jeepneys with people on the roof of course.

Then we started to see large clusters of rice terraces. We were finally closing in on Mayoyao's town center. Mayoyao is one of the five clusters of rice terraces included in the UNESCO World Heritage inscription Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, the others being Bangaan and Batad in Banaue; Hungduan (which includes Hapao and the Poblacion); and Nagacadan in Kiangan.

We finally arrived in Mayoyao close to lunch. It turned out, the trip from Santiago, Isabela to Mayoyao, Ifugao (together with the food and photo stops of course) was longer than my bus ride from Manila to Isabela! I endured seven hours on a rickety bus. We navigated through rough, bumpy roads, but what I saw at the end was most definitely worth the trip. Our activities would begin after lunch and a short nap. We needed to get some rest after that very long trip.

Part 2: Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Ifugao
Part 3: Rice harvest experience in Mayoyao, Ifugao
Part 4: Trekking along the rice terraces of Mayoyao
Part 5: Journey across the Ifugao heartland

How to get to Banaue, Ifugao
Florida Bus has a regular trip from Manila direct to Banaue. It leaves Sampaloc, Manila (Lacson St. cor. S. H. Loyola St.) at 10:45 p.m. Or you can take any bus that goes to Cagayan Valley and get off at Solano, Nueva Vizcaya where you can catch regular trips to Banaue and other towns in Ifugao. From Baguio, KMS Bus Lines and Ohayami Trans leave for Banaue at least twice daily.

How to get to Mayoyao, Ifugao
Take a bus from Manila to Santiago, Isabela (any bus to Cagayan or Isabela passes by Santiago). There are mini-buses from Santiago to Mayoyao which leave thrice daily at 6 a.m., 11a.m. and 3 p.m. From Banaue, there is one daily trip to Mayoyao from Solano which passes Banaue between 12 to 1 p.m.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Isabela & Cagayan: Nature at its finest in Cagayan Valley

Finally, I've reached the last two provinces of northeastern Luzon Island! Yes, we visited Cagayan and Isabela today. Just like the Ilocos trip in July last year, I joined the Arch 17 class of Prof. Jojo Mata for the semestral study tour organized by the UP College of Architecture HTC Lab.

We left UP at 10 p.m yesterday and arrived in Cauayan, Isabela at 6 a.m. just in time for breakfast at the Jambalaya Grill. After a hearty breakfast, we went to the Magat Dam in Ramon. Although I was surprised to see a sign along the road a few meters from the dam that we were in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao.

It was a massive structure which reminded me of the Marcosian-era of the Philippines, the last time when the Philippine government thought big. If there was one thing I would hand to Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, they left their legacies in architectural monuments such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines and massive infrastructure projects such as the Magat Dam. No other president after them left monumental legacies not including of course Ramos' white elephant known as Expo Filipino.

From the Magat Dam, we went straight to our hotel in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan to freshen up, get some rest and have lunch. After lunch, we went to the Tuguegarao Cathedral, a heritage horror which Jojo calls a "good example of a bad example!"

Imagine, they demolished the old brick convento right beside the church and replaced it with this horrible commercial structure and multi-purpose hall which is still under construction at this moment. Now you see why we can't entrust heritage decisions to some bishops because they themselves are at times the culprits.

That also happened in Lingayen, Pangasinan just recently. Instead of demolishing these centuries-old conventos and replacing them with horrible new buildings, the bishops could have contacted the NCCA or a conservation architect to consult them on how to do adaptive reuse of the conventos, meaning tranforming the interior of the conventos in order for them to serve the purpose intended for new buildings. In that manner, heritage is preserved and the bishops get the income they want.

Yes, the bottomline was income for the bishops since commercial stalls replaced the old conventos when the said stalls could have been integrated properly with the old conventos had they consulted. Notice also the water tank on top of the demolished part of the convento. You can really see how some priests and bishops treat our national heritage.

Tuguegarao is actually an urban planning disaster having transformed itself into another nondescript Philippine city without character. Not much of its heritage is left since Church and State seemed to have formed a perfect tandem in eradicating its rich past. Add to the fact that the roads are literally congested with tricycles. Yes people! After Cabanatuan, Tuguegarao follows with the most number of tricycle franchises issued. Driving in the city streets is a nightmare since the drivers treat the roads as if they were theirs.

We then visited a horno, an oven for baking bricks, in some forgotten corner of the city. I guess the city government has no plans of caring for the site since it's already hidden in a rundown residential area right beside a basketball court which is obviously more important to the people than this relic of the past.

But these depressing episodes would soon be forgotten as we crossed into the next town PeƱablanca to visit the PeƱablanca Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, in particular, the famous Callao Caves. The image of the caves is so popular owing to the little chapel inside a large cavern which receives sunlight from a natural opening above. Finally, I get to visit the famous caves. But the signature ray of sunlight wasn't there since it enters the cave only at a particular time of the day.

Getting up to the caves can be exhausting thanks to the 183 steps you have to climb to get to the top! But you will be rewarded with surreal rock formations that are very easy to explore.

After the caves, we went down to the banks of the Pinacanauan River for a boat trip that offered us spectacular views of limestone cliffs covered with lush forests. Indeed, this was a reminder that the Philippines had a lot to offer and if we let all of this go by neglecting our natural heritage, it's the next generation of Filipinos that would suffer.

I really hope illegal logging in this part of the country, particularly Cagayan and Isabela, is stopped. But we all know why it still goes on. If politicians in the area can't curb illegal logging, it's either they are weak and don't have the political will, or more plausible is that they are earning from it as well!

We went back to Tuguegarao to get our long-needed rest and for dinner of course. The next day's itinerary was mostly church heritage. I'm quite excited since I rarely visit the Cagayan Valley owing to its distance from Manila. Last time I visited was in 2002 during a conference in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. As part of the conference we visited the church in Dupax del Sur which is a national cultural treasure.

It looks like I'm close to completing the provinces of Luzon Island soon. With my visits to Isabela and Cagayan today, that leaves seven namely Quirino, Kalinga, Apayao, Abra, Aurora, Camarines Norte, and Sorsogon; plus of course six island provinces of Luzon which are Batanes, Occidental Mindoro, Romblon, Marinduque, Masbate and Catanduanes which I hope to visit in the near future. Hehe!
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