Monday, July 16, 2012

Batad Rice Terraces: A Trek to Remember

Tired, but the view was worth it!

Before facebook, there was, and still is multiply.  Finally I was able to recover my account and stumbled upon my first attempt at blogging.

After the 10 Hour Bus Ride to Benquet!
This was actually my first climb.

May 24 was a very special day for us. Some didn't even bother to sleep to make it to the 4 o clock call time to go on a 10-hour bus ride to Benquet. All 40 of us including fellow Victorians namely Dara of PID, Rene of purchasing, Renz of quality and Carsel of engineering, came for a very special purpose, to donate books and school supplies to Cambulo Elementary school in Batad, Benquet.

Cambulo Elementary School
The bus ride was only a start of an amazing journey. We arrived in Benguet at 3pm, had a courtesy call after, and then started a 4-hour trek to the town of Cambulo. The trail was exciting offering different views of the rice terraces and the mountain province. The trek became even more challenging as rain and nighttime approaches. Armed with flashlights, we braved the narrowing trail until we reached our destination around 9 pm. We were able to get ourselves acquainted with the principal and teachers while resting our tired muscles as we wait for dinner. There's nothing much to see in the area since there's no electricity. Amidst the darkness, you can see the welcoming smiles of the children and teachers who are anxious to see us. We stayed at the local inn, with no less than Diether Ocampo, head of the KIDS Foundation, the group responsible for the outreach as our lodging mate. We retired for the night around 11pm.

Spectacular view of the Batad Rice Terraces

The next day started early! With 25 tenants and only 2 bathrooms, we need to get ahead and woke up at 4 am. Looking out from the balcony from our lodging house, we were all surprised to find out that the rice terraces are just out of our window. Getting up early had its advantages! We were able to help prepare breakfast, which was served around 8am. A short program followed with cultural performance from the host community, and then the distribution of school supplies. We were able to give more than a hundred sets of school items to the elementary students of Cambulo. The smiles of the very appreciative children made the trip meaningful and were enough to soothe the now very tired muscles.
View right outside our window

The Children of Cambulo Elementary School

Tappia Falls
Around 1030am, we started another 5-hour trek to our next destination, which is Tappia falls. We literally walked on the edge of the terraces wide enough to fit your feet, with a cliff on one side, and rice paddies on the other. The falls was a spectacular sight, because of its size and soaking on its cold water rejuvenated us. After going down the steep steps to the falls, we would have to climb our way back to the town of Batad for lunch. The climb up took its toll on my legs, 100 meters before the last stop; I had cramps literally blocking the trail. Fortunately, there were climbers kind enough who took my load and helped my muscle relax, and around 3pm we reached the town of Batad. We only had 30 minutes to rest and eat before going on the last leg of the trek to Saddle Point where the jeepneys that would take us to Banaue awaits us. Fresh from the cramp, I took two walking poles to shift my weight off of my legs. It was still a very challenging trail, and after an hour of a few stops, we were able to reach saddle point.

Before boarding the jeepneys, we can’t help but talk about the exciting experience we encountered in this 2-day adventure. We took photos of the entire group who were brave enough to overcome these challenges for a very special purpose, to help the children of Cambulo, and to promote education even in remote places.

I took a very special seat on the jeep, the top! It was another hour of travel, but at least, we were not walking. The view from the top was amazing, until it rained. We were soaked in rain when we reach Benguet, so we stop on a local hotel to bathe for 50 pesos. At 6pm we were back at the bus station for our ten-hour bus ride to manila.
With Rica Peralejo
With Diether Ocampo
More than the outreach, we learned a lot of lesson from the trek. We learned how to persevere in spite of challenges. We learned the value of teamwork. We exceeded our expectations, especially for us first timers. Most importantly, we learned that if you focus on a certain goal or destination, you would get there.

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