The surgical trip of Bontoc-Sagada-Bontoc-Banaue is one of the most visually rewarding travels I have ever had, so far. Notwithstanding that fact that I have nurtured a special and intimate relationship with the Cordilleras, this trip, despite its long and winding trip, has made me more relaxed than physically exhausted. Why? It simply feeds something to my soul. Maybe it's the culture. Perhaps, it's the cool climate. It could be the beautiful scenery. Probably, its warm people. The laid-back life. All these--when arranged in a beautiful and lyrical ensemble--becomes a source of an energy that lifts the soul and awakens the senses.
Such is my experience going to Hiwang.
Nestled on a mountain top at 4,500 feet above sea level is the highest viewing deck in Banaue that gives you a perfect view of the Banaue Rice Terraces. On a clear day, you can also see the Hungduan Terraces. But since it was raining hard and the fog has already set in, viewing the Banaue Terraces is just as rewarding an experience, nonetheless.
Specifically, this place is called Hiwang Native House Inn which is located at Hiwang Gohang, Banaue, Ifugao. At the time we were in this place, it has five (5) Ifugao houses where guests can stay and experience living the rustic "Ifugao way". Expect no other amenities than the beddings. Complain not when you go to the outhouse, which is the "Ifugao way". We were told you can bring your food or order from the inn.
This place reminds me of the movie I saw on cable TV. Yes, it is the location for the movie, Don't Give Up on Us, topbilled by Judy Ann Santos and Piolo Pascual. It was that morning scene when Abby (Judy Ann), after a word war with Vince (Piolo), when Abby turned her back on Vince, paused and cried simply because she was awed by what she saw--the early morning view of the beautiful Banaue Rice Terraces. Okay, enough of that. (Disclaimer: I am not a Judy Ann or Piolo fan...I just love re-runs that fills a void in my insomniac nights. LOL!)
And so, I thought it only happens in the movies! Nah, I did not cry. In my unrestrained excitement I blurted out "WOW!" a lot of times, then I heard "Shhhhhhhhhh!" from one of the huts! It was siesta time when we got there, and apparently, the couple staying in one of the Ifugao huts was having a nap. My bad! Normally, they do not allow sightseers because it was supposedly a "private" place when there are guests. But then we were good at explaining to the caretaker that we were scouting for possible training venues around Banaue--that is why we were allowed to peep.
Hiwang Native House Inn, also features some artifacts in its souvenir store near the parking lot. From here you can have a glimpse of an Ifugao culture. There are many versions of wooden and stone carvings of their pagan god, Bulul, which is oftentimes associated with bountiful harvest and one who will guard your family from evil spirits and give you healing from sickness. There are also other artifacts, decorative pieces, woven tapestries, and many more.
Of course, the most captivating part about this place is the beauty of nature that surrounds it, and the opportunity from seeing Banaue from a different view and perspective.
More photos at my Flickr Stream.
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