While I was in the Philippines, I took a trip to actually see what the country of my birth has to offer. After all, I felt bad for having traveled many other places around the world and yet I haven't seen the Philippines yet. In my previous picture entry, I featured Intramuros and Old Manila. This time, I will show pictures of Banaue and Sagada, two cool towns in the Philippine Cordilleras.
First, let me start with the people. The area is inhabited by the indigenous people that are collectively called the Ifugao. They are known for their bright-red colored weaving, as the above picture depicts. I know that these six lovely people are only dressed as these due to the fact that travelers like taking pictures of them, but still, they were good photograph subjects. Normal wear of the Ifugao is pretty much just like other Filipinos.
Banaue is the site of one of the Philippines' UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Banaue Rice Terraces. And yes, the place is spectacular. I took several shots of the sweeping views from the top of the mountains. This is a shot that only shows a small part of the mountain, as my camera cannot fit the whole thing in one shot.
Unfortunately, this is also a World Heritage Site in Danger. Plenty of the Ifugao don't maintain this anymore, as they somehow deem that tourism is a more fruitful endeavor than agriculture. This is one of those situations in which visiting the place may actually damage it: the influx of tourists provide a more lucrative industry for the natives, which then lessens their time to actually maintain the place. Other Ifugao also think that it is better to go down to the city and earn a living there, rather than stay in the mountains and plant rice. The picture above actually shows some signs of erosion, due to the lack of maintenance of the rice terraces.
I didn't just view the terraces from afar: I also hiked them. I did a few hikes between the villages that are scattered within the rice terraces. I therefore followed several paths that are actually the borders of the rice terraces. Some aren't so bad, like the picture above, but others are rather tricky, since they are terraces in the mountains after all, so one side would be a rice paddy, and the other side would be a steep mountain side. Good thing I was good with my balance and didn't fall and cause an accident.
After spending a few days in Banaue, I went to Sagada, and did some caving. On the way to the caves, I saw some karst formations, such as depicted above, complete with hanging coffins. See if you can find the hanging coffins in the picture.
I did the Sagada Cave Connector, and it was a hard trek. My whole body was sore. I didn't take plenty of pictures inside, as the inside was wet, and we had to swim some parts of the cave. The picture above perhaps provides an idea of what it was like inside. We had gas lanterns to light our way inside, and after 4 hours, we emerged all tired and sore.
So this is my second picture entry for the Philippines trip. There's one more coming, and that will be the last.