Discover the Land of Ifugao: Home of Ifugaos and Banaue

ifugao philippines

Fascinating rice terraces assembled into gigantic green stairways seemingly reaching the heavens is an understatement to describe the breath-taking beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces. It sits in the province of Ifugao, Philippines, which itself is a home to wealthy ancient culture and great locals ready to greet you upon coming. It’s important, however, to know more about the place before your trip, so you can fully appreciate its culture, traditions and environment. Be sure to know when is the best time to travel to Ifugao Philippines as well to carefully plan your itinerary ahead of time.


Know more about the Land and People of Ifugao as you Plan for a Visit

Thinking of visiting Ifugao, Philippines? Here are fascinating and important things you should know while planning. This can help you know more the place, its people and the things you can enjoy through your stay.


What region does Ifugao belong?

Ifugao is a province in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon, located right at the foot of the Cordillera Mountain Range. Mountain Province, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya and Benguet circle it on its north, east, south and west respectively, and it has about 251,778 hectares of total land area.


What is the history of Ifugao?

According to a theory of archeologist Otley Beyer, Ifugaos have their roots from the Indonesian migration around 800 to 500 BC. The ancient tribe was a plutocratic state led by a council of elders without any form of monarchy. It’s one of the two biggest plutocratic highland states, which ruled for about 2,000 years and created the Banaue Rice Terraces. And these are the biggest answer to the question, “What is Ifugao known for?


During the Spanish occupation, the tribe continuously resisted the invasion which leads to the preservation of their ancient culture. The occupation of Spaniards in Ifugao ended when the Philippine Revolution began. During the Japanese occupation, General Tomoyuki Yamashita launched his last assault against the Philippine Commonwealth forces at Mt. Napulawan. Then, he surrendered to Captain Grisham in Kiangan.


What do you call people in Ifugao?

The people of the area are called “Ifugaos”, which came from the term “I-pugo”, taking its root from “I” meaning “people” and “pugo” meaning “hill”. Thus, Ifugaos roughly translate to people of the hill. These people are recognized as master wet rice agriculturalists, and popular for building the Banaue Rice Terraces without any advance tools. Moreover, ancient Ifugaos lives in wooden huts which don’t have any nails or metallic materials in its structure.


What are the beliefs of Ifugao?

Ifugaos hold animist belief system, wherein they believe that the world is divided into 5 levels. These levels are the sky, the ground, the underground, the upstream and the downstream. Each levels have hundreds of spirits who are said to control natural events and phenomenon that humans experience. And to gain the favor of such gods or spirits, they do rituals headed by up to 15 priests, wherein they sacrifice dozens of livestock such as cows, water buffalos and chickens.


But when Spaniards arrive, some Ifugaos accepted the god of Christianity. Today, more than half of the Ifugaos were Christians, but majority still incorporates animistic beliefs into it. And their ancient practices are some of the best things to do in Ifugao Province during your visit.


What is the religion of Ifugao?

According to a 2014 survey, around 61% of the Ifugaos are Roman Catholics while 20 to 30% are Protestants. But many Ifugaos incorporate their animistic traditions to Christian beliefs, while some remains fully animistic. That’s why, Ifugaos continue their old traditions and practices until today, such as ritual dances and livestock sacrificing.


Is Ifugao and Igorot the same?

Many people are confused if Ifugaos and Igorot’s are the same or not. Truth is, the Ifugaos fall as one of the subgroups of Igorot’s in Cordillera Administrative Region. However, ancient Ifugaos doesn’t act cohesively as a member of the Igorot tribe, since only the Spaniards have called the people of Cordillera under one umbrella term.


What is Ifugao known for?

The Ifugao Province is popular because of so many fascinating things it houses. Of course, the Banaue Rice Terraces leads the list, which are gigantic landforms manually carved by Ifugaos on the facade of huge mountains.  These terraces look like big green stairways leading to the heavens, and holds different crops such as rice and sweet potatoes. And these outstanding figures are made through manual labor of the ancient Ifugaos without the use of any advance tools.


Thus, know how to get there so you can see these breath-taking wonders. This makes the people themselves popular worldwide as well. The Ifugaos are known as fascinating agricultural architects and mathematicians, who have come up with complicated irrigation and terraces for their crops. Moreover, their ancient houses are popular because of sturdy structure, without the use of any nails or metallic materials upon construction.


Why is Banaue Rice Terraces famous?

The Banaue Rice Terraces is the biggest treasure the Ifugao houses. It features large stairway-like structures of green rice terraces, carved at the side of Cordillera Mountains from bottom up to thousand feet high.  And it’s estimated that the total length of the rice terraces when laid side by side can circle half of the Earth’s circumference. Moreover, it features streams and springs of the mountains which are channeled to the rice terraces for irrigation. And how the Ifugao built the Banaue Rice Terraces makes it even more interesting.


How do the rice terraces reflect the culture of the Ifugao?

The Banaue Rice Terraces reflects the brilliance of ancient Ifugaos in terms of wet rice agriculture and engineering. They have carved the massive structures at the side of the mountains, without using any advance tools. They even incorporate natural springs and streams of the mountain for irrigation, which is vital for wet rice farming. Moreover, it shows how they value rice farming, which is their main food in the area.


What is rice terraces used for?

Know when is the best time to travel to Ifugao Philippines, so you can see how the locals use the terraces for their crops.  The Banaue Rice Terraces are primarily used for wet rice farming of the Ifugaos. However, many parts of the terraces are also used for other crops, such as sweet potatoes. Moreover, many locals grow their livestock around the area as well, such as water buffaloes and chickens.


Is Banaue Rice Terraces 7 Wonders of the World?

Contrary to popular belief, the Banaue Rice Terraces is not one of the 7 Wonders of the World by UNESCO. This is wrongly claimed in a previous version of the 20-peso bill, thus spreading the rumors nationwide. UNESCO cannot include the place in their list, since many buildings and other infrastructures have destroyed the natural integrity of the area.


When can you visit Banaue Rice Terraces?

Ifugao generally has dry weather season during November to April, with rainy days throughout the remaining months. It’s generally cool during November to February, while March and April are the hottest.


But if you plan to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces, you can come during April and witness the Imbayah Festival. This is the main feast of the Ifugaos every year, which showcases a lot of traditional dances, rituals and tributes among other practices. However, if you’re thinking when is the best time to travel to Ifugao Philippines to see the rice terraces on their full green glory, be sure to plan your vacation from June to November.


How do I get from Manila to Banaue?

To reach Banaue, you can have a direct travel from Manila by bus, which will take you roughly 7 hours of trip. Alternatively, you can travel by plane from NAIA, then land on the Cawayan Airport. From Cawayan, you can ride on a van to Banaue which will take around 3 hours.


What can you do in Banaue Rice Terraces?

You can enjoy many things at the Banaue Rice Terraces. Some of these are:


  • Begin by visiting the Banaue Viewpoint, so you can see the entirety of the Banaue Rice Terraces. This is the most advantageous view, but you can go to some other spots if you want a closer look as well.
  • Visit the Batad Terraces so you can closely see the most beautiful rice terraces among the bunch. It features an amphitheater-like structure, wherein you can go hiking and further observe its complexities.
  • You can also visit other rice terraces in the area. There are 5 all in all, which includes Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces. The other three are Bangaan, Mayoyao and Hapao Rice Terraces.
  • Visit the Banaue Museum to further appreciate the culture and history of Ifugao.
  • Witness the cultural dances, rituals and other traditional presentations. Of course, you can also visit during April to see the Imbayah Festival. Moreover, one of the best things to do in Ifugao Province  is when visitors arrange for cultural shows, which includes a lot of native instruments, dances and even rituals among other practices. You can enjoy it at the Banaue Ethnic Village and Pine Forest Resort, for 4,500 to 6,500 pesos.
  • Try local dishes and delicacies, such as sausages. You can also try “Pinikpikan”, which is a special Chicken soup by the Ifugaos. It’s made by beating the chicken repeatedly with a stick while still alive, which results to a richer and tastier soup.
  • Try riding on the local Ifugao wooden bike. These bikes totally rely on gravity and riders’ proficiency to move downhill. And you can even witness a racing event with these bikes during the Imbayah Festival.
  • Of course, be sure to drop by a souvenir shop in Banaue, so you can buy some handicrafts to bring home. Ifugaos are skillful woodcarvers, so you can see various wooden handicrafts for sale. Woven cloths are also available, which features native designs and patterns.


What should I bring to Sagada?

After visiting Ifugao, you’re probably thinking of dropping by Sagada in the Mountain Province. Before you come, be sure to carry all of these important stuff in your bag:


  • Cash – there are only few ATMs in the place, thus you should bring enough money to spend through your stay.
  • Clothing – bring different types of clothing that could let you face varying weather and environmental conditions. For example, bring sweaters and jackets to face extreme cold, while bring tank tops and shorts for hot weather at noon.
  • Footwear – you should bring hiking shoes to provide enough grip as you hike through the mountains. However, bring flip lops or sandals as well, so you can switch to comfy footwear when applicable.
  •  Food and water – be sure to carry enough snacks and water that you can bring on a hike. That can help you maintain enough energy for long walks.
  • Sun screen – mountain tops can become so hot during the day, thus it’s best to bring enough sun screen with you.
  • Right backpack – finally, be sure to carry everything in a right bag. It should be roomy enough for your things, and is comfortable to carry. Moreover, pick one with water resistant feature, as you’re most likely to face different environments through different trails.

Visit Ifugao and the Banaue Rice Terraces now!

Knowing about the land of Ifugao leads you to discover about its people, culture, tradition, handiworks and history among other fascinating stuff. It also helps you to know when and how to Get There for your visit, so you can carefully plan your itinerary ahead of time.


Of course, you now know how you can fully enjoy and appreciate the magnificent beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces. You now know about the best things to do, see and experience, which can definitely let you have a fulfilling vacation in the province.


After seeing the wonders of Ifugao, you can then visit other nearby places in the Cordillera Administrative Region. The area is a haven for hikers and mountaineers, especially with all the rugged terrains the Cordillera Mountain Range has. 

Source : Elige Filipinas

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