Heritage Town: Hungduan, Ifugao
Located on the northwestern edge of the province, Hungduan has one of the five clusters of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. The rice terraces were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the 19th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Berlin, Germany from December 4 to 9, 1995.
Adapting to the new environment they settled at, the earliest ancestors of the Ifugaos had for centuries painstakingly carved the mountains of the Cordilleras to create a wonderful stairway to the heavens where they plant their food for subsistence.
In Hungduan, the two most scenic and majestic rice terraces are located in Hapao and in Bacung. Located between Hungduan and Banaue, Hapao Rice Terraces offers yet another breathtaking view of the World Heritage Site.
A kilometer southwest of the town proper is Bacung Rice Terraces which resembles a spider’s web. Probably the most magnificent photo ever taken on Bacung Rice Terraces was before the outbreak of the Second World War. At that time, the rice terraces had no trees that partially obstruct the view. These trees were planted after the Liberation because Bacung Rice Terraces was partially damaged during the bombardment.
In front of the municipal hall of Hungduan is the Eco-Village where eight traditional Ifugao houses called bale are showcased. Bales are built on top of four posts with pyramid-shaped thatch and characteristically have no windows. Although only pegs and ropes were used to tie and join the parts together, bales are durable and can withstand the rigors and tests of time.
On July 31, 1945, General Artemio Ricarte, the Father of the Philippine Army, died in Mount Napulawan. His remains were extracted and transferred in a cave in Hungduan. It was also in Mount Napulawan where General Tomuyuki Yamashita made his last stand before his eventual capture and surrender in the neighboring town of Kiangan. Hence, stories of the fabled Yamashita treasures are often associated with this 2642-meter high mountain.
At the foothills of Mount Napulawan and a little over eight kilometers away from the town proper is Balentimol Falls. It is yet another refreshing and majestic sight that Hungduan offers to her visitors.
The municipality of Hungduan is one of the eleven towns of the landlocked province of Ifugao. Derived from the Tuwali word hungdu which means “to go or to pass”, the people of Ifugao would pass through this northwestern town on their way to the neighboring province of Benguet.
A must-try when in Hungduan is their version of pinipig. Called as tinnupig, it is made of organically grown rice planted and harvested once a year.
The best times to visit Hungduan are during the start of the planting season in January and on April 15-19 of each year when they celebrate their harvest and thanksgiving festival.
How To Get There:
- To go to Hungduan, depending where you are coming from (Manila, Sagada/Bontoc, Cagayan Valley) you can take a bus/jeep going to Banaue where you can transfer to a jeepney. There are several PUJs that ply that route. Travel time is around 90 minutes. There are portions of the Tinoc-Hungduan-Banaue Road that are under construction.
Where To Stay:
- During my three-day trip in Hungduan, I stayed at Happy Homes owned by former Mayor Felipe Lacbawan. It is very near the town hall. It has breath-taking views of the mountains and rice terraces. I paid P200/night for the two-bed room. It has two comfort rooms at the second floor. At the ground floor is their small restaurant. Mr. Lacbawan is a very learned and engaging man. He can share you some infos and tips to make your trip to Hungduan a lot more interesting.
- Other options are the Municipal Lodge below the town hall, the Eco-Village and a lodging house at the junction.
Note: This is part of LegendHarry‘s October 3-14, 2014 Mountain Province-Ifugao-Isabela-Aurora Backpacking Trip.