The Lost Wonder of Banaue

“The Lord often has his prophets climb mountains to converse with Him. I always wondered why He did that, and now I know the answer: when we are on high, we can see everything else as small. Our glory and sadness lose their importance. Whatever we conquered or lost remains there below. From the heights of the mountain, you see how large the world is, and how wide its horizons.” – Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain

It’s one thing to do the things that you love and another thing to actually get paid for it. That is why I could not be happier and more grateful that my work makes me do the things that I love.

For example, I get to visit places that I have never been to before; meet really cool people; and most of all, create a difference in other peoples’ lives.

Last year, we were introduced to the Ifugaos when Mr. John Chua intiated a project to save one of the heritage sites, the Batad Rice Terraces, from the endangered list of UNESCO.

Together with around 200 employees and volunteers, we went to ground zero and cleared rocks that destroyed the terraces from past typhoons and landslide. Hand in hand, the Ifugaos and people from Manila worked together for a common cause. It was amazing!

This experience was truly an entry to my bucket list having to ride on top of the jeepney which squeezed its way to a narrow, steep mountain cliffs and trek a challenging route for more than an hour.

Last month, I went back to Banaue together with my colleagues and volunteer photographers to carry out another worthy mission. It was another trip to remember.

We took an eight-hour trip on an Ohayami bus going to Banaue (if you are interested to visit the terraces, you can go there via this transit – visit www.ohayamitrans.com). We left at around ten in the evening to avoid the traffic and arrived in Banaue at six in the morning. We stayed in Banaue Hotel for two days, the same hotel where we were housed a year ago.

I personally experienced the Ifugao culture and met so many wonderful people in Banaue. The trek, although easier than the one we had on our first year, gave us a hard time especially when we had to brave thunderstorms, heavy rains and lighting on our way back. At the end of the day, however, the expedition was grueling but very rewarding.

Yes, haggard after a 30-minute trek. Haha! Photo by PJ Enriquez

Yes, haggard after a 30-minute trek. Haha! Photo by PJ Enriquez

Oh yeah. This Ifugao dance I used to perform when I was in elementary. Photo by PJ Enriquez

Oh yeah. This Ifugao dance I used to perform when I was in elementary. Photo by PJ Enriquez

Looks like an easy trek? I wish :) Photo by PJ Enriquez

Looks like an easy trek? I wish 🙂 Photo by PJ Enriquez

And as if the challenging  trek was not enough -- we had to lose to the tug-of-war against the Ifugao women. Haha.       Photo by PJ Enriquez

And as if the challenging  trek was not enough — we had to lose to the tug-of-war against the Ifugao women. Haha.       Photo by PJ Enriquez

This experience has made me realize a lot of things.

First, to be always grateful that we are given the chance to experience the natural wonders that God has made.

Second, to be thankful in meeting people from other cultures and learning to appreciate their ways.

Last, (this realization came amidst the heavy rains and scary lightnings while walking barefoot on the pilapil with my heavy bag wrapped in plastic), that challenges will come along the way but we will still persevere and come out okay once we put our faith and heart into it.

So that’s Banaue for me, ladies and gentlemen.

Goodnight everyone.