Stairways to the clouds

The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao had us lost for words. And its very sight last August was quite enough for us to forgive and forget the horrible weather which cancelled the forum we sucked up the ten-hour trip from the metro for, the one we have been preparing for weeks.

Despite reports of possible thunderstorms throughout the weekend, we hit the road that would take us to the mountains of Northern Luzon two days before our scheduled event. We arrived at the university staff house and were greeted by the warmest hospitality every Filipino from across the country is accustomed to, along with gloomy early morning skies paired its occasional drizzle.

Following our itinerary, the entire Sunday we ironed out the final arrangements and accomplished some "sights and sounds" documentation by visiting the world-renowned terraces together with a few souvenir shops and the Yamashita shrine. In between the team trekked muddy slopes to savour the province's native chicken for lunch.

Evening came and brought the news of the Signal No. 3 declaration throughout the region, suspending work and classes on the following Monday. Although disappointing, it was for good reason. Strong winds and heavy rains disrupted power and communication lines for the whole day. We prayed and took shelter in our little home in the middle of nowhere.

As soon as the coast was clear we moved on and spent the night at an inn in the neighboring province of Nueva Vizcaya. Early the next morning we hurriedly packed up our things with our heavy hearts and drove back to the city. On the way home, we grabbed a comforting breakfast with mountain and valley views at this pretty log cabin of a restaurant-cafe on the side of the highway. We said our goodbyes to the mountains and its winding roads, but not without promising to return to Ifugao when it's under sunnier skies.

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