Banaue Rice Terraces

The charming old town of Kiangan, Ifugao

My first encounter of the word “Ifugao” was my Mom’s faded and dusty photo that I brought with me to Show & Tell back in Grade School. On it was an actual Ifugao (the tribe) posed in “attack” mode, behind him was the famous terraces. I remember holding the crumbly photo in my hand and thinking, wouldn’t it be amazing to be transported back in time to see how everything used to be?

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Although it would take decades before I’d set foot up north (I was always a beach bunny and never a trekker), I was happy to be able to experience the rich culture via the Tourism Promotions Board product update trip. More than just a quick getaway from Manila, I see it as a way to experience our different cultures and explore lesser known parts of the Philippines. Grouped with travel enthusiasts and experts, the expeditions are always more educational and in-depth.

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Stories from Ifugao: Innug and Noel Balenga

I’ve met so many wonderful people while traveling, some in the most random of places. While I wish I could share with you everything I’ve tried, encountered, or felt; oftentimes there is simply not enough time nor the words to adequately describe the experience. I hope to blog about them someday or maybe share them with my grandchildren when I am old and grey.

These are the two fascinating people I met during my trip to the province of Ifugao. When I had lost all hope of a story, fate intervened and I met both Innug and Noel on my 3rd day while exploring Hungduan.

INNUG, Ifugao farmer

I was not paying close attention while trekking the stonewall of the Hapao Rice Terraces. I stumbled while on the way down as my left foot stepped into a ditch, I was getting absent-minded and careless. Thankfully, I was able to hold on to Billy’s back as I fell which offered me enough stability to stand up and get my bearings. “Are you okay?” he asked. I laughed and fluffed my shirt. “No biggie,” I replied.

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Innug harvesting rice

Then out of nowhere, I spotted an Ifugao harvesting. She watched us inquisitively as we trekked by. It’s customary to ask permission before taking a photo, as most tribes fear that cameras and pictures take a bit of their soul. I was told by the guide that it was perfectly fine, and so I snapped a few.

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