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Bontoc Philippines

Bay-Yo Rice Terraces of Mountain Proivnce near Bontoc

Bontoc, the capital of the Mountain Province, lies at an altitude of only 870 meters along a green mountain stream. The town is two and a half hours from the good Banaue road and you can make the return journey in one day. During the rainy season, landslides can cut off the road.

The view from the read is truly spectacular. The road goes into the mountain hollows which are still covered in certain areas by a canopy of luxuriant green forest, made up of mossy trees adorned with orchids.

A little before arriving in Bontoc, the scenery changes, the forest giving way to the rice terraces. In Bay-yo, the square patchwork of terraces dominates an impressive precipice, evoking a citadel with the backdrop of mountains. The track leads to the pass of Mount Polis, obscured in the mist. In the surrounding area of Bontoc, the indigenous tribes now cultivate vegetables on the terraces, notably cabbages and potatoes on plots forming geometric patterns. The spiral designs of the vegetable gardens alone are astonishing.

The main interest in Bontoc is the visit to the Malegcong Rice Terraces, an hour by car through a very steep track (three hours on foot!). The track goes right up to the village of Malegcong and you can see the rice terraces below without having to walk any further.

The rice terraces of Malegcong ascend like a staircase in the Mountain Side, near the Mainit Hot Spring. Unlike those of Banaue, the rice-fields here have the uniqueness of having stone walls. You can easily walk in the rice fields and go right up to the other slope of the circle – a narrow footpath follows the stone walls. The view of the rice terraces you have within the amphitheater is quite unusual and gives you a better understanding of their function. It takes and hour to walk through the area. The descent by car to Bontoc is faster than going there (half and hour only).

Bontoc MuseumIf you spend the night in Bontoc, you will have time to visit the little museum dedicated to the mountain tribes, founded in 1911 by a Belgian missionary, Sister Basil Gekiere. It houses a collection of mountain tribe objects – tools, pottery, porcelain, jewelry, traditional costumes of beautifully woven cloth, and photographs. The museum garden likewise houses replicas of traditional dwellings.

Banaue Viewpoint (4 kilometers from Banaue) the viewpoint is on the road from Banaue to Bontoc. The view is superb, the rice fields occupying a narrow, high spur in the mountain on a rather steep incline. As it is very near the town, the natural serenity of the surrounding is somewhat ruined by the sprouting handicraft stalls. From Banaue you can make a round trip (it can take between two to three hours) across the rice fields passing through the viewpoint.