Last check-up for things forgotten--check. Speak of Banaue and a mental image of the Rice Terraces in all its thousand peso bill-glory will come out flashing. There are also pictures in text books and those handy school posters of this “8th Wonder of The World” lodged in our subconscious. Getting there is a different order. For the long and winding road is waiting. For starters, all buses from Manila depart to the mountainous province of Ifugao at night so there’s a sleepy hint in the eyes of fellow passengers. They are ready to hibernate; it is a 7-8 hour journey after all. As the conductor takes a final look at the filled seats and settled down riders, the gears shift and the tires become the needle that will play on the vinyl groove road to Banaue:
Magda-drive ako hanggang Baguio
Magda-drive ako hanggang Bicol
Magda-drive ako hanggang Batangas
Tapos magsi-swimming dun sa beach
It is a really long journey. Passing by the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Nueva Viscaya is already a trip in itself. Roads lit orange by the lampposts, sleepy roadside houses, peddlers and bystanders, 24-hour quick hunger fix shops, and the occasional check points will greet and become familiar to you. Not unless you’re interested in diverting your attention with the on-board movie that’s showing, then dozing off is the next feature film for you. But to the awake-in-transit crowd, the bus, running at around 80 to 100 KPH suddenly speeds off in semi-slow motion and the details of the night come into play:
And as we’re crossing border after border
We realize that difference is none
Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground
The last stopover is an ominous sign of things to come. The air that’ll find its way to your mouth and lungs is as cool as an Eskimo grinding on iced rails. You realize that you’re getting higher and higher--not through the use of illegal substances though--and the mountains are getting closer. From afar, the sight of these mountains can enthrall us; make us feel small, irrelevant even. But there is a thrill to this, to conquer a piece of rock with a bevy of life in it. What's even better is communing with it:
I want to feel sunlight on my face
See the dust cloud disappear without a trace
I want to take shelter from the poison rain
Where the streets have no name.
Where The Streets Have No Name
You can feel the popping sensation in your ears. They’re adjusting to the altitude. The turns and twists on the road are becoming regular. You’re in the mountains where the streets blur with excitement. By the time you arrive in the slopes of Ifugao, there is no turning back. The sentimental string to the city that you’ve left spinning along the way spans 348 kms. After stretching your legs, you step out of the bus and make your first physical contact with Banaue. You are on the mountain, the mountain in you:
There’ll be more songs, thoughts, and pictures in the next installment of the Traveler’s Playlist. Want to head over to Banaue yourself? Please check out our Banaue package by clicking the widget below.
All photos by Mango Tours
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