[Sadanga] Mt. Province: Bekigan Rice Terraces, a Cultural Heritage


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"...not every beautiful beach should be crowded, not every mountain should be hiked and for the case of Bekigan Rice Terraces, not every rice terraces should be flocked by visitors."

A journey to the northern frontier of Mountain Province situated at the heart of the Philippine Cordilleras was like a ride to a roller coaster wherein you are entrusting your life to someone you do not know while enjoying the thrill of getting twisted, the cloud 9 sensation of a negative gravity and the magic of turning your little vocal cords to a huge squealing to roaring sound that could annoy a town.

Bekigan Rice Terraces, Sadanga, Mountain Province

Cliff-side farming scheme at Mt. Province's high town, Sadanga


I just compared it to a roller coaster but I wasn't twisted. I didn't fall to the ground in negative Newton and never had I annoyed a town. It's just that, the thrill (a travel blogger's version for nervousness and I-don't-want-to-die-yet moment) is something that can not be experienced to more commonly traversed towns out there; like a roller coaster ride that only allows those who are brave at heart and mind.

I witnessed this view (rice terraces) in full-swing WOW, which is a pathognomonic sign of an imaginary emotional disorder I call as Cordilleriasis (Warning! #fiction) - a condition wherein everytime you think about rice terraces, you want to go to the Cordilleras instantly, compulsively. On the other hand, if the Cordilleras is a contagious disease, then the bunch of rice terraces scattered in between mountains and valleys in the region is the presenting symptom and you just can't resist the virulence of the infection.

Bekigan Rice Terraces, Sadanga, Mountain Province

A portion of Bekigan Rice Terraces


From #BONTOC

#BONTOC

FAST FACTS: The capital town of Mountain Province, #Bontoc hosts majestic ancestral rice terraces, a prehistoric village, burial caves and the melting pot of culture in the province.

Photo: Palali Rice Terraces @ Alab Oriente, Bontoc
, I started this solo backpacking to the hinterlands of Kalinga Province via riding a mini-bus (probably the smallest of it's kind in the 'mini-bus' bracket I have seen by far). I wasn't even aware that such array of rice terraces exists on my way to Kalinga.

About an hour of WOWs and OMGs (because of the view and my intolerance to beautiful scenery where I put my head out of the bus window), the journey has to make me call for the protection of the Holy Spirit; to manifest and keep me safe and sound during the travel. The road has turned disastrous.

The road to Bekigan Rice Terraces


The picture I am showing you above is a road in #SADANGA

#SADANGA

FAST FACTS: #Sadanga is located north of the capital town of #Bontoc and south of the Kalinga town of #Tinglayan. It is believed to be the town of the early elites of Mt. Province.

Photo: Bekigan Rice Terraces
, but this is one of the best sections of the road, though evidence of rock slides and land slides is everywhere. The deadly part of the road is located near the Sadanga-Tinglayan boundary.

Enough for these road worries, I just can't get enough with my newest discovery. It's yet another cultural heritage to be added on my Rice Terraces label.

Bekigan Rice Terraces marker


According to the marker, the Bekigan Rice Terraces of Sadanga town (Sagada is different, don't be confused) is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site collectively known as the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.

While many tourists are lured with the beauty of BATAD RICE TERRACES

Batad Rice Terraces

FAST FACTS: Batad Rice Terraces in Banaue, Ifugao soars more than a thousand meters high up the sky! Click the link or the photo to enlarge.

Photo: Batad Rice Terraces
, the most popular of it's kind in the region, some less known rice terraces like this one can actually rival the latter. The rice terraces in Batad is known for it's soaring height that made it so popular. However, I believe that each group of rice terraces in the CORDILLERAS

CORDILLERA

FAST FACTS: A mountainous region in the Philippines' Luzon island composed of 6 provinces with distinct people and dialect namely Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.

Photo: Abra River in Pidigan, Abra
has it's own interesting story and quality to brag about. There are just things that a certain terraced rice field could offer that others don't have if only we try to scrutinize each.

Photo Slider: Hover to unlock the captions

Bekigan Rice Terraces in SadangaBekigan Rice Terraces in SadangaBekigan Rice Terraces in SadangaBekigan Rice Terraces in SadangaBekigan Rice Terraces in Sadanga

For Bekigan Rice Terraces, the thing that makes it different from the more popular ones is it is not well-known. It maintains it's aboriginal beauty the way the ancestors maintained it. It has no influx of tourists that triggers the popping-out of hotels, souvenir stalls and tourist crowd. It is as simple as it is. It's original purpose the time it was built thousands of years ago is the essence of the encounter. Just plain cultural heritage to that effect. Goosebumps!

Yes, not so well known that not so many tourists care about. That's a good news in my point of view. The original purpose is maintained. It is used the way it was made for that purpose. It is not altered just to fit the demands of common tourist. In this connection, not every beautiful beach should be crowded, not every mountain should be hiked and for the case of Bekigan Rice Terraces, not every rice terraces should be flocked by visitors.

Sometimes, we have to set the limit. There are just some destinations worthy of not allowing any visitor at all in the name of preservation.

The oh-freak journey to Tinglayan from Bontoc


And the journey to Tinglayan continues (and currently, I am enjoying my time in Sadanga, Mountain Province). The emotional OMG-factor heightened to a level that dwarfed the mountains around me as the road gets dirty, rough, narrow and considerably deadly without caution. The driver was an ace while two white American backpackers at the back are uttering "That's crazy! That's crazy!" as they point out to a sinking road bed with width of a very little wider than the width of our mini-bus.

Literally, if you look below from the bus window, it's a gradually falling soil bed that keeps threatening the road. A simple rain for that could turn this part impassable. What will happen to us next? Are we going to survive the trip and where is my next destination after this? Honestly, it's my first time to visit this part of the country and I am heading to a place known for headhunters, solo and unsure where's the right path after dropping off the mini-bus. I hope I can find my way to a village I have dreamed of seeing! /to be continued...
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HOW TO GET HERE + TRAVEL GUIDE AND TIPS

1. From Bontoc, ride on a bus bound for Tabuk and/or Tinglayan. The parking area is located near the Mountain Province Polytechnic State College along the main road. Or if you are not sure, just ask any local politely this way: "Where is the parking area of mini-buses bound for Kalinga?" They will tell you where.

2. As far as I can remember the first trip is around 5-6 am (depending upon the volume of passengers). The second trip is around 7 am.

3. If you have your own motorbike (or should you wish to drive an SUV or a posh car - goodluck!), just follow the road northwards. It could take up to 1 hour before you reach the site. If you choose to commute, the fare (as far as I remember) is around 100-120 up to Bugnay Village in Tinglayan. You will pass through this site. Should you wish to cut the trip here, the fare would be cheaper, of course.

4. There are no accommodations near this site. It is only good for a side trip. If you opt to commute, you can see it along the way to Kalinga. Choose the window seat at the right side of the bus if you want to see the view. The marker is located at the left side of the road though (from Bontoc) which I hope you can notice - goodluck! If you choose to cut your trip here, the last bus going back to Bontoc is around 12 PM to 1 PM. Expect that the bus is already full. You may need to topload.

5. While waiting for 12 pm, you can ask locals (if any) a better vantage point of the Bekigan Rice Terraces. You may need to hike. Be sure to be back at the road by 12 PM, or else, you'll be stranded that day.

Disclaimer: The road as shown and described in this post is the condition on March 2013. Road construction is under way so the description here may be different from your experience after March 2013 since the landscape and condition of places constantly change by time. 

*EN ROUTE: BONTOC-SADANGA-TINGLAYAN SUB-SERIES: 1 | 2

[CORDILLERA] Bontoc-Tabuk Road: Mt. Province-Kalinga Border Crossing

TEASER: "My blunt brain due to being deprived of sleep was instantly reset to sight-seeing mode after it hibernated for a while when I started seeing this wonderful view that temporarily locked my jaw."
| 3

[TINGLAYAN] Bugnay Rice Terraces and that Lucky Village in Kalinga

TEASER: "The Kalinga prima facie evidence in terms of beauty should not be a subject for debate because if I were to be the judge, the evidence is too strong to put the case to rest."

Sadanga #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of #Sadanga

Click map to view latest articles covering Mountain Province


MORE POSTS FROM THIS CATEGORY: *RICE TERRACES*

[BONTOC] Palali Rice Terraces: Of First-time Penetration, Pain and Pleasure

TEASER: "As I reach the peak, which is the climax of everything, my eyes bulged in pleasure brought by a feast-to-the-eye-destination with a little bit of brain clouding. I have just reached the point of no return."

Bayyo Rice Terraces and Waterfalls - Highland Paradise Living

TEASER: "The presence of the rice terraces is an evidence of an engineering expertise of the Igorot ancestors..."

Rice Terraces | Turning to Vegetable Terraces Too

TEASER: "...no time is wasted, their limited farming fields at the slope of the mountain become productive all year round."

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