MOUNTAIN PROVINCE will reward you not just with an astounding views but also with a rich, diverse culture of the Ifugaos and the Igorots. The three most frequented destinations in this region are Baguio, Banaue and Kalinga.
Baguio holds the title of being the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” not for the beach but for its cool climate with its lowest recorded temperature of 6 degrees Celsius. The City of Pines’ year-round cool climate draws people from all over the country including foreigners as well. Daniel Burnham, an American architect and urban designer responsible for the masterplan of known cities like Chicago and downtown Washington DC, fell in love to this city in the 1900s and envisioned Baguio to have streets like the hill towns in Italy, France and Japan. The city’s design was highly influenced by him and Burnham Park, located at the heart of the City was named after him. This park has been famous for its recreational activities including boat ride at the man-made lake, biking, shopping and food tripping.
Dubbed the Eighth wonder of the World, the Rice Terraces of the Philippines never fails to awe. These steps that look like staircases reaching up to the sky, were carved out of the mountains and leveled for planting rice by the Ifugaos almost 3 centuries ago — without the use of any machinery! As if that weren’t amazing enough, they devised a most efficient irrigation system that is still in use today, producing the most abundant rice wheat not just for the region but the country as well. For the best time to witness this green spectacle, visit the place in March and April, when harvest begins. To truly make the most of this experience, live in an authentic Ifugao house known as a Bato Biyo – and live as they do, truly one with nature.
Many say that the Sleeping Beauty lies in Kalinga.
This is true. Mt. Mating-oy Dinayao, one of the region’s more popular mountains, is called as such because it is shaped like a lady asleep while lying on her back. This mountain is only one among the chain of majestic kindred mountains surrounding the province. For an excellent view of these mountains, as well as part of the amazing Rice Terraces, head to the Sungang View Point. You may also visit the Ampitheater of Kalinga found in the Tinglayan Rice Terraces, and imagine how tribal meetings were held in earlier times. Kalinga also boasts of the Buaya Cave – not a place to spot real crocodiles as the name suggests, but caves where tourists come to admire the differently-shaped stalactites and stalagmites. Yes, sometimes they do resemble crocodiles.
Hanging coffins. Limestone cliffs. Underground streams. It’s no wonder that Sagada has long been considered as one of the places you must not miss if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable, natural experience.
About 5 hours from Baguio by bus, this tiny village in a small town in the Mountain Province brings you deep into the rich, tribal culture of the Ifugaos. Warm up by seeing how woven cloths and mud clay potteries are made, then slowly immerse yourself more deeply into their mysterious past – cut through the jungle and overgrowth of the Valley of Echoes to discover the centuries old hanging coffins on sheer limestone cliffs, and climb down the Sumaging and Lumian Caves for amazing underground streams. Finally, make the trek to Bomod-ok and Bokong falls to refresh your entire being.
From Baguio City, board a bus bound for Sagada. You’ll be traveling on the highest mountain highway system in the Philippines. The views are amazing and the cool weather is perfect so there’s really no need for air-conditioning in the bus.