Archive for banaue

(lg2a) way to go

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, technology, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by mijodo


It all started with a passion for photography, and some skill in writing.  Then I started to create a blog that should document all my travels , and probably show off a portfolio of pictures and articles which have been published not only in the world wide web but also in some of the more prestigious inflight and travel magazines that have literally crossed not only the shores within the Philippines, but across the whole globe.
For many of the travel articles on this blog, Lets Go Pinas, the writing and photography are brought about not only by my interest and skills, but because of the circumstances that have brought me to many sections of the Philippines, and lately, to the vast areas of North America.
Several weeks ago, I was invited by my cousin Barbara, and her husband, Eliot, to check on an idyllic community, west of Detroit, Michigan, using their Recreational Vehicle or RV. Basically an RV is a motorhome which can bring all the residential trappings as you go from one place to another inside a vehicle as large as a bus.  Our RV can accommodate probably about 4 people to sleep on its beds, even while the the RV is moving.  In  our vehicle, there is a full functioning kitchen and a restroom that can even supply heated water for showers.  Of course, there are amenities like the television, a comfortable couch, and table and chairs for dining. To travel the roads using such behemoth is truly a luxurious experience.
Just recently, another posh mode of transportation that gives that high and exhilirating feel would be gondola lifts that are propelled by cable lines usually on steep areas such as atop the mountains. This kind of vehicle provides the riders stunning scenic vistas of verdant mountains during summers or ice-capped mountain areas during winter times.
However obviously, it is not always that I get to ride such deluxe transportation.  Many times, while travelling alone to create articles and photos for magazine publication, I get to employ lowly vehicles, such as tricycles which I usually get to rent for the whole day, at very minimal cost, to take me into the hinterlands. For me, these trikes -not the jeepneys – are the real kings of the road in the provinces since there are more of them that take you directly to the exact places, even if they are quite remote.
But for sheer excitement, the habal-habal of many island provinces in the Philippines takes the cake.  Again for some small fare, one can lease on such services of a motorcycle, and hop on at the back of the driver, and explore outlying destinations whether in the beaches or in the hills and mountains.  It may be a little dangerous as there is no gear provided just in case accidents occur. However definitely, using such motor bikes while my face is against the wind is already an adventure in itself.
Many times, the proverbial line – the journey may be even more interesting than the destination itself – is quite true. I personally have collected some anecdotes and stories that have wiggled out during such trips.  One time, in Ilocos Norte, I had to ask my trike driver where La Paz Ilocos Dunes was.  But the driver seemed not to know where it was, or if there even was one around Laoag. So I had to describe it through another way – where Action King FPJ had done his epic movie classics: Ang Panday (series).  In a jiffy, he was able to bring me where I had wanted.
By just constantly hiring tricycles throughout my trip to Ilocos, I was able to gather some quaint observation about the differences in tricycle sizes from one province to another,  The ones in Ilocos Sur are a lot roomier whereas the ones in Ilocos Norte may only fit one person inside their cabs, and one may even have some difficulty in getting out from the space as their trikes are short and squatlike. 
I have met some interesting and even familiar faces just by waiting out at the airports or bus terminals, boarding on boats and ships, talking with cab drivers and fellow bus passengers, and hanging on to dangerous habal- habal and speeding jeepneys for dear life.
However, it is most meaningful to share transport space with family and friends – from my great parents, Lita and Glicerio, constant, travel partner, Ate Mae in the Philippines to the people here in the United States and Canada, such as my sisters, Jane and Christie, brothers in law, Edgar and Rashid, beautiful niece, Ernestine, Uncle Isdoc and Auntie Lelita, Uncle Nary and Auntie Gaying, and cousins Al and Gisela,  Baby Liz, and of course RV owners, Barbara and her husband Eliot.  Thank you very much. Till our next trip together, guys. Happy New Year, and way to go, for Year 2011!

creating the patriot

Posted in artifacts, events with tags , , , , on June 12, 2008 by mijodo

Happy Independence Day.

In a recent visit to Banaue, while my companions and I were at Banuae Hotel, just languidly waiting our time for departure to Manila, in its main hall, there was a curious assembly of public school teachers from many parts of the Philippines. Apparently, the mentors had a one week seminar on how to create national pride in their students, particularly when the students sing the National Anthem and recite the Panatang Makabayan. During that time, the teachers had to sing the anthem properly (and in tune). Also they were tasked to create ways on how to propagate love for country among the young students.

I could not believe it. I was elated.  Yes, it was the teachers themselves who gave much time for this extra work when they were supposed to be enjoying still their own summer vacations. Moreover, the participants themselves even paid for their own accommodation in Banaue’s poshest place. The teachers needed to prepare a big budget for this vacation seminar, I presume.  Thus, it was sadly expected that many other teachers had not been able to come because of the added expense on them.  Just the same, hurray for all the coordinators and teachers for their deep concern about how to encourage patriotism for this nation.

More specially now, that many don’t even get to sing the exact lyrics of our National Anthem. Not even those professional singers who miserably bang up “Bayang Magiliw” just before a special boxing fight, featuring Filipino pugilists-heroes. Thus embarrassingly, the following day, these singers have become side stories themselves in the newspapers’ front pages.

guide me, mr. weatherman

Posted in people with tags , , , on May 8, 2008 by mijodo

As early as setting foot on Banaue, I got bus tickets for departure to Manila in three days.  This was the earliest advice Alex Ordillo had given me. I did not know the man, yet in due time he became our (me and my companions) guide for the visit. A little pushy to say the least to get our business, but he was amiable enough to accommodate our meager travel budget. Instead of getting one jeepney for our sidetrip, he was smart enough to recommend us to use two tricycles (my sole body needed my own trike) thus a better deal for us.

During the trip, he asked that we go to his ancestral area at Hiwang. And lo and behold, it was worth the visit afterall. I would have wanted to say what it was, but it is better that readers get to witness it for themselves. Just brace yourselves.

Alex seems to be popular among the locals afterall he was once an elected town councilor, and now is the Parent Teacher Association Prexy, and Chairman of the Tricycle Drivers Cooperative. This guy would not hesitate to sing a native ditty as he gave out details of the life and culture of the Ifugaonons.  And during the three day stay when we always had rains every afteronoon to spoil our visit, Alex would even give us a little lecture about the weather. Afterall, he was once a weatherman trainee at PAGASA.

For those going to Banaue, and interested in Alex’s service, call 0906317-3627/0916994-2390/0919229-6161.



of betel chews and bululs

Posted in artifacts, people with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2008 by mijodo



As I got out of the Florida Bus Liner, right away I saw a plethora of men trying to catch my attention to be travel guides. Oh yes, they did alright.  Well the seemingly bloodied mouths did alright. Almost every other guy (and some ladies) in Banaue, chews “nga-nga” which gave out the reddish spit and tarnished the teeth eventually. This chewing concoction, composed of betel leaves, lime paste and tobacco leaf,  was prevalent in stores of Banaue at five pesos per plastic wrap. The men reasoned that chewing such combined ingredients gave out a warm sensation in their mouths, perhaps a better alternative to cigarettes. It was no wonder that around the market spit receptacles were in strategic places exclusively for their mouthing habit.


As a newcomer, it was disconcerting to see red saliva oozing from one’s mouth.

Tuberculosis came easily to my mind.  It can be irritating and yet I tried to be tolerant, mindful that I was a guest in their area.  Yet one foreign tourist even had the audacity to scorn the native guide for the habit . It turned out the tourist was a dentist.


As I tried to document such custom, I chanced upon a smallish yet rotund guy, sporting a sleeveless leather trenchcoat (straight from the ukay ukay store) and who had the red stuff soaking in his mouth.  The guy gamely posed for the camera, with crimson mouth all over.


Several snapshots after, he was introduced to me by the ladies who were selling native wooden wares. James Humiwat, turned out was supposedly well known in selling a specific native cordillera artifact – the “bulul”.


He explained that bululs were native sculptures which should ensure good harvest.  Old tribesmen of Banaue butchered pigs and chicken and poured blood to the idols to have bountiful rice produce.


“Original reproductions, but not antiques,” he cautioned. He prompted to explain classifications of original reproductions (30 to 40 years old), antiques (older than 40 years old), and replicas (newly carved and for décor purposes) of harvest icons.  He then asked me to check the pieces personally in his home atop a boondock overlooking a splendid sight in this part of Banaue.  He narrated that many times he would go down the mountains and brought some of the pieces to well known antique shops in Ermita, Manila, particularly to a family recognized in selling Filipino artifacts. And the relics were sold to the public from  5 to 15 thousand pesos.


“I hope they were legally taken out of the original homes,” I thought.  

Of course, I was not sure of the market price of the said articles nor the veracity of his claims that such treasures could be categorized as original “repros”. After another round of snapshots with the picturesque mountains behind, he would meticulously put back each “bulul” to his humble hut.


Then without notice, James went back mouthing a betel chew as we descended from his place.

breathless in banaue

Posted in locales with tags , , , , , on April 29, 2008 by mijodo


a lady native continues the work done for centuries

Upon arrival at Banaue, Ifugao, one still marvels at the vastness of the rice terraces of this part of the Cordillera Region.  The seemingly endless stairways of rice plantations just make one indeed puny and insignificant. Even to the jaded traveler, the scenery remains easy to the eyes as there are just rows upon rows of verdant greenery carved into the mountains.  This is true manifestation of ingenious farming labor dated two millennia ago. As one native Ifugaonon would describe the staggering effort employed, “the forefathers just had to do it, out of necessity. Furthermore no one had to work and die as a slave unlike in other iconic wonders of the world.”


Tourists come to the place, but not necessarily to have boisterous fun. Many visit alone. And the place is even better for partners wanting to have some lone time. With the calm weather, and the lushness that totally envelops the senses, the place is opportunity to rest and rethink one’s life.  There are no malls, no movie houses, no Mc Donalds. Only mountains.



Although the Ifugaonons in Banaue are welcoming to newcomers, they seem not to be pressured to overly impress them. Theirs is a bucolic life, and such has seemed to be nicely safeguarded. To repaint their dwellings is not needed; to repave the roads is not important.  No imposing man-made structures. No showy edifices. Only shy smiles while chewing betelnut give out their endearing quality of warmth and affection.



The place allows the traveler to meander aimlessly in the short market strip which leads to a cul de sac where the town hall is situated. Along the way, there are quaint stores of wood carvings and basket weaves. A seamstress will be too happy to create a blanket using their traditional fabric material. To the famished, carinderia type of restaurants will prepare you liberal dose of vegetables and brown rice which can serve two. And at a corner, an unusual halohalo stand is popular even in cold climate.


One should not only admire the mountains, one has to experience it. With guides to help  out, travelers brave the neighboring Batad Rice Terraces with a long trek to mingle with the village folks. Or one can march down the Hungduan Rice Terraces, if only to check out a refreshing stream at the foot of the hills and mountains. And for the less than fit people, these foot activities can make some of them literally a little out of breath. Whether hiking the hills or just staring at the mountain sights makes a person breathless, Banaue, Ifugao calls out for one’s visit again.


Interesting Banaue factoids:


1. Mexicali near the Main Viewpoint area is not related to the restaurants bearing the same name here in Manila. In fact, it is not even remotely Mexican. No tacos for the guests. What they have is Filipino Food.


     2. Friends Folk House along the road going to the market, discontinues giving out live 

     music after 9 pm so not   to disturb the area during sleeping hours.