Maligcong Rice Terraces: a must-be explored in Mountain Province

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Panorama of the rice terraces through a 35mm prime lens.

Whenever I think about rice terraces, it is the ones in Ifugao province, usually in Banaue or in Batad, that instantly pops out from my mind. Understanding the topography of Cordillera Administrative Region, mountainous terrain proves a feat and challenge in agriculture, notably in growing rice because of the flat contour it requires. This is does not stop the local tribes in the region to harness the nature’s gift and prove their resourcefulness to create gigantic marvelling structures – terraces. Carved from mountain slopes of varying altitudes and degree of sloping, these people in the Cordillera mountains created this captivating structures either by hand or by using varying tools.

Bontoc boasts not only of its rich culture and heritage, but also unique majestic rice terraces, amongst with these is the Maligcong Rice Terraces. Situated in a higher altitude compared to Bontoc poblacion itself, its unique undulating paddies are an awesome scenery to behold. It is one the of best preserved rice terraces in the Philippines. Going to these hidden gem is not an easy task because one has to endure lengthy land travel along scenic winding mountain roads of the Cordillera region.

Visiting Maligcong Rice Terraces is the latter part of our three day road trip in the mountainous provinces of CAR.

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Maku’s first time to explore the Maligcong Rice Terraces

THE EXPERIENCE

It is not in our itinerary to traverse through the rice terraces, but by chance that part of the group have descended quite quickly without our guide and got lost on the trail. Trusting our gut feels and believing that we have traversed these path, we continued walking and found ourselves to an awesome vantage point to view the rice terraces. Such a nice way to get lost! We felt that we are certainly lost and start shouting to our guide. Luckily, the trail between the original path we took is not far and our guide was able to locate us. Our team member who was with her took the original path alone and got back to the homestay ahead of us.

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Arriane and Michael traversing the rice terraces

We took mandatory pictures during the trail which is hard not to do because of the commanding and breathtaking view of the terraces. The golden hour added punch to our photos.

We had a brief experience amongst the terraces after our descent from Mt. Kupapey since we have to catch the 9:00 AM jeepney trip back to Bontoc.

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WHAT OTHERS EXPERIENCED IN MALIGCONG RICE TERRACES

“A trip to Maligcong is worth to adventurers who love walking and walking and walking without getting tired. A long trip will be paid by a grand view of the rice terraces, a quiet village living in harmony with nature and amazing hospitality of the locals. A quick hike to Mt. Kupapey to catch the sunrise and equally-stunning sea of clouds is a must-try before eating your breakfast. And oh! They also grow arabica coffee so make sure to taste the spirit of mountain coffee” – @vansquared32

vansquared32

“Maligcong Rice Terraces is a must place to visit. You will never get tired of looking at this place, as it offers a jaw dropping view from the top of Mt. Kupapey. What surprised me is when I got to trek into the rice terraces, you will notice how big the place is and planting rice on these terraces is not the easiest task to do. Kudos to the people of Maligcong for maintaining and preserving the beauty of this land’s treasure.” – @tommyboy.14

tommyboy-14

“The trek to Maligcong Rice Terraces gives you a deep meaning, understanding and so much respect to the locals who live and preserve these wonderful clusters. When I first laid eyes upon it from afar, I thought it was just another rice terraces – nothing fantastic. But hell no, I was surprised to see how majestic and calming the place is. It is one of the priceless feelings you could ever experience in your life – to go back in time.”  – @backpackingph

backpackingph

“One way to experience the scenic beauty of Maligcong Rice Terraces is to hike to Mt. Kupapey, a one hour trek from our transient house to the summit. You can also try and experience bon-firing to keep you warm from the cold morning breeze while waiting for sunrise and sea of clouds of Mt. Kupapey.

At the summit of Mt. Kupapey is the overlooking view and surreal beauty of Maligcong Rice Terraces.” – @jonie_lakwatsero

jonie_lakwatsero

HOW TO GO THERE

From Manila, take a bus ride to Bontoc town. Upon arrival, walk to the jeepney terminal to Maligcong which is near the commercial center, front of Pines Kitchenette. During Sundays, the terminal is temporarily transferred near Bontoc Museum because of the bazaar that would occupy the terminal space. No need to ride a tricycle to locate the terminal, ask any locals you have met along the way and they might direct you, anyways, you would notice that almost everyone are treading the streets.

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Jeep to Maligcong in front of the post office and beside the Bontoc museum

Fare is Php20.00 and travel time is approximately 20-30 minutes. It is advisable to topload should it be your first time to visit Maligcong. The uphill road brings you to scenic viewpoints of Bontoc town, plus cool mountain breeze would cloak you.

Bontoc-Maligcong Jeep Schedule 2016 (Php 20.00 Fare both route)
Bontoc to Maligcong Maligcong to Bontoc
First Trip 8:00 AM 6:30 AM
12:00 PM 8:00 AM
 Route we took during our trip 2:30 PM 9:00 AM
4:30 PM 2:00 PM
Last Trip 5:30 PM 4:00 PM

Bontoc can also be reached either through Baguio or Banaue route. GL Trans Bus Lines ply the Halsema Highway to Bontoc from Baguio, first trip is 7:00AM and estimated arrival in Bontoc is around noontime.

There are jeepneys and vans in Banaue going to Bontoc. In our actual itinerary, we took a van from Manila to Solano and alighted to Bagabag Junction, we took a bus going to Banaue which took another roughly two hours travel.

Sample Routes:

Manila-Banaue-Bontoc-Maligcong Route

  1. Take the Ohayami Night Bus or Florida GV Night Bus en route Banaue (9-10 hours) and alight near the Banaue Tourism Office. (ETA Banaue  6AM 7AM)
  2. Walk to the Jeepney or Van going to Bontoc  (ETD 10:00AM, 1.5-2 hrs, topload if you must) and take the morning trip (ETA Bontoc Noontime)
  3. Upon arrival in Bontoc, have a lunch and discover Bontoc on foot and take the 2:30 PM Trip (30 minutes, topload is a must) to Maligcong (ETA Maligcong 3:00 PM)

Manila-Baguio-Bontoc-Maligcong Route

  1. Take any Baguio bus (Victory Liner, Genesis Bus)  Night trip and target to arrive before 6AM in Baguio City. Take a cab to Dangwa Bus Station in Baguio City
  2. Reserve your bus seats with the first trip 7:00 AM bound to Bontoc. (5-6 hours)
  3. Arrive in Bontoc around noontime, have lunch and walking tour for 2 hours
  4. Take the 02:30 PM jeep bound to Maligcong (3o minutes), arrive in Maligcong around 3:00 PM

WHERE WE SLEPT

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Receiving area of the homestay with the dogs.

Suzette’s Homestay is notable for its strategic and panoramic view of the rice terraces and its proximity to the jump off point to Mt. Kupapey or Mt. Fato.

You would be welcomed with a warm soothing Maligcong Coffee and Freshly baked Banana Bread, in our case,  as you arrive on homestay after the 20-30 minute uphill travel from Bontoc. Along with these yummy treats are the 4 canine-squad that would warmly welcome you as the initially grace the homestay, happily tail wagging. Don’t misinterpret their barks as warning, but a signal of excitement. They are so friendly and that well-known dog, Kunig! Really, so friendly and gentle. As soon as Kunig really felt at ease, he would dive his head between your legs signalling that he wants more petting.

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View of the Terraces from the homestay’ balcony

Earlier published blogs would feature Kunig as the owner’s lovable and ultra-friendly pet. It is by surprise that they already now own, 4 playful pets – added in the squad are Maku, Tiny and Misty. All of these three new pets are ultra playful.

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Kunig, the uber friendly dog

I would rate Ma’am Suzette’s service as 10 out of 10. She answers most of our queries the best she can and really made our stay comfortable. I would want to credit her integrity as we hurriedly boarded to jeepney back to Maligcong and had not noticed that forgot my camera, few minutes, she phoned me about it.

You can call Ma’am Suzette at +63 915 546 3557

WHAT WE HAD FOR BREAKFAST AND SUPPER

As Maligcong is lacking with stores or eateries nearby homestays, it is advisable to bring your own food or pre-arrange your meals with Ma’am Suzette. You can advise your preferences so she can purchase in Bontoc Market. As for me, I requested non-pork meals and she recommended a chicken meal dinner and fish breakfast.

Our “naimas ti dinner” – Fried Chicken with Tinola-style soup and Maligcong Rice

HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?

Sample solo traveller from Pasay City via Baguio-Bontoc:

Pasay to Baguio (Victory Liner) ₱445.00
Baguio to Bontoc (GL Trans) ₱212.00
Bontoc to Maligcong (Public Jeepney) ₱20.00
Accommodation with Suzette’s ₱350.00
Lunch and Dinner ₱240.00
Guide Fee (max of 5 pax) (+ P100/ extra pax) ₱500.00
Maligcong to Bontoc (Public Jeepney) ₱20.00
Bontoc to Baguio (GL Trans) ₱212.00
Baguio to Pasay (Victory Liner) ₱445.00
TOTAL ₱2,444.00

Here is the actual cost to prepare your budget. Comparing cost to a group of seven from Pampanga:

Dau, Pampanga to Baguio (Victory Liner) ₱306.00
Baguio to Bontoc (GL Trans) ₱212.00
Bontoc to Maligcong (Public Jeepney) ₱20.00
Accommodation with Suzette’s ₱350.00
Lunch and Dinner ₱240.00
Charge for 7 pax (P800.00) ₱114.29
Maligcong to Bontoc (Public Jeepney) ₱20.00
Bontoc to Baguio City (GL Trans) ₱212.00
Baguio City to Dau, Pampanga (Victory Liner) ₱306.00
TOTAL ₱1,780.29

Things we missed doing

  1. Explore more the rice paddies
  2. Explore Mainit village on foot and check Mainit Hotspring (45minutes – 1 hr trek)
  3. Explore Favarey village

Agyamman kami!

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. rossgtc says:

    Great job and beautiful photos as usual! More travels to come my friend! 🙂

    Like

    1. Hey Ross Thank you so much! Looking forward to travel with you too

      Like

  2. My first time to explore a place which I never heard of..my best travel experience so far. And it was rewarded by a majestic view of the terraces from Mount Kupapey.. Maybe next time I write, Ill try to include the intinerary too and other details. THank you sir, nice write up you have here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The surprise is remarkable and breathtaking.

      I have learned Maligcong just through blogs and made sure to see terraces myself. Regardless of the season, the undulating paddies are picturesque and captivating from Mt. Kupapey.

      Like

      1. Actually, I was just driven by curiousity for the terraces. I’ve seen very few posts on Fb about the place. Then I looked it up, read blogs and did my own exploration of the place. The sunrise is the best! I did not expect we’ll do the traverse on the terraces itself. Masarap balikan ang Maligcong, kung wala masyado tao. YUng ibang bundok kasi, crowded na, hind mo na ma-appreciate. 🙂

        Like

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