Heritage Town: Mayoyao, Ifugao
The Municipality of Mayoyao rose to global fame when its rice terraces were declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Mayoyao Rice Terraces, along with the other four clusters found in Banaue, Hungduan and Kiangan, was inscribed in the World Heritage List during the 19th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Berlin, Germany from December 4 to 9, 1995.
The decision mentioned that “the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are outstanding examples of living cultural landscapes. They illustrate the traditional techniques and a remarkable harmony between humankind and the natural environment.”
There are at least eight rice terraces that dominated the landscape of the Municipality of Mayoyao. They are located in Mayoyao Proper, Chumang,Chaya,Bongan, Balangbang, Banhar, Buninan, and Mapawoy.
Banhar Rice Terraces is located on the southern part of Mayoyao. It is surrounded bythick muyongs or private forests. It is best seen at Chu’it Viewpoint in Chumang.
When coming from Banaue, one can see Mapawoy Rice Terraces just before reaching the town proper.
Bongan Rice Terraces is the best starting point for rice terraces walk tour. It connects to Mayoyao Proper Rice Terraces, Balangban Rice Terraces and Buninan Rice Terraces with the mystical Lumagig Stone as a end fitting end.
Along the Balangbang River is a big boulder that for ages has been precariously siting on a bedrock. Although being held by just three small stones, the Lumaging Stone has withstood the tests of time. The Ifugaos believe that their gods and goddesses placed the Stone along the river.
From July 25 to August 7, 1945, the Battle of Mayoyao Ridge turned out to be the most critical stage of the Philippine Theater of the Second World War. Composed by the 1st Batallion, 14th Infantry and 3rd Batallion and other elements of the 11the Infantry, the United States Army Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) engaged the remaining units of the Japanese Imperial Army under the command of General Togozuma into a fierce and bloody battle of attrition at Mount Nagchajan.
The 14-day battle gave the Allied Forces with huge advantage in the Liberation Campaign but it came with so much casualties for the belligerents. Around 51,000 Japanese soldiers, and 4,600 Allied soldiers and guerilla fighters died. On August 9, 1945, the Battle of Mayoyao Ridge was over. It pushed General Tomoyuki Yamashita further west until his eventual surrender and capture in Kiangan on September 2, 1945. In 2009, the National Historical Institute placed a marker at the southern side of Mount Nagchajan.
At one point in the contemporary history of Ifugao, Mayoyao was the biggest town in the province, occupying nearly half of its land area. The current towns of Aguinaldo and Alfonso Lista are former barangays of Mayoyao. Because of its huge tract of lands composed mostly of mountains and rolling hills and covered with large swath of forests, Mayoyao has vast watersheds. This town is blessed to have several majestic waterfalls two of which are easily accessible. They are Manhencha Falls and Tenogtog Falls.
Located on a ridge east of Mount Nagchajan, Manhencha Falls is composed of a series of three drops while Tenogtog Falls is a segmented, horsetail waterfall.
Apfo’or Burial Tombs are large stone, dome-shaped mausoleums found only in Mayoyao. Bones of Mayoyao’s ancient warriors and elite citizens were buried in these tombs. Like the rice terraces, the burial tombs were made using bare hands and primitive tools. This example of burial tomb can be seen near a cliff north of Mayoyao Hostel.
Inside the compound of Mayoyao Hostel are excellent viewing areas of the UNESCO World Heritage Site with five of the rice terraces can be seen here. Owned and operated by the Local Government Unit of Mayoyao, the hostel can comfortably accommodate large groups. Another accommodation with outstanding view of the rice terraces is Melcha Lodge near the town hall.
The best times to visit Mayoyao, Ifugao are during the rice planting and harvest seasons, every March 13-15 when they celebrate their festival Ikghumtad Ad Mayoyao and every August 8-9 for the Lenong Ad Majawjaw (Adventure for Peace) Festival which commemorates the Battle of Mayoyao Ridge.
How To Get There:
There are two major road entry points to Mayoyao. They are:
- Via Isabela. There are several minibuses and vans that regularly ply the Mayoyao-Aguinaldo-Alfonso Lista-Ramon-Santiago City route. Average travel time is three and a half hours. Minibuses and vans start to leave Santiago City Central Terminal at 5AM. The first trip in Mayoyao is at 7AM. Van fare is P140.
- Via Banaue. There are only two minibuses that ply the Lagawe-Banaue-Mayoyao route. Average travel time is also three and a half hours. It passes Banaue at around 1PM. Fare is P100.
Note: This is part of LegendHarry‘s October 3-14, 2014 Mountain Province-Ifugao-Isabela-Aurora Backpacking Trip.