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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

"Terrace Tours: Batad" - BIMCC #5 (14th July 2018)

This blog series details my experiences as a composer-fellow for the "2018 Banaue International Music Composition Competition" ("BIMCC") dedicated to the efforts of the "Banaue Rice Terraces Restoration Project".

For the full blog series, click here.


In preparing materials for this post, I couldn't stop myself - there was too much interesting information to share! Thus, this post that was once planned as a single entity, now becomes a trilogy!

The sunrise was a particularly clear one, making for a stellar time lapse and ideal field recording conditions.


A Sunrise from the Hotel Balcony

With Morning Ambience


Today's tour was to take us to the renowned "Batad Rice Terraces", and in order to truly immerse ourselves in the local culture, we did so by riding on top of local "jeepney" transportation - quite precarious at first, but it was surprisingly relaxing (and provided an ideal seat to watch and record the surrounding landscape!)


Sitting atop the jeepney (with final safety checks)

And off we go!


After just under an hour of traveling, we arrived at the furthest place the jeeps could take us (mainly, as the road then disappeared). The rest of the journey was a short 10 minute hike - easily worth it!


Hiking to Batad

With some welcome signs along the way

And more terraces tucked into the mountains

And the eventual site that greeted us - Batad


Batad itself, in a full bloom of rice. An absolutely incredible wonder to behold.

But we didn't simply come here to consume this visual spectacle; we also learned some the processes involved in harvesting rice:


It begins with the shredding of the crop; separating the rice husk from the stalk by hand

Then the husks are pounded through a manual threshing process; separating the grain from its husk

The husk remains are then filtered from through a sieving process

And you get fully packaged rice!

(Alright, the packaging might be added at a later stage)


After exploring Batad for just over an hour, we had to depart... going up many, many steps along the way.


A snippet of ascending Batad in real-time*



We had a scenic lunch overlooking more Banaue terraces, whereby the weather could change at any time.


Sunny Lunch View

Raining Lunch View


And then we made our way to the "Banaue Museum" to learn more of the culture and history this region held, including information on the beginning of the Banaue Rice Terraces, more local instruments (such as the "clapper"), cultural dress, and several other details.


History of the Terraces

A "Pattung" wooden clapper instrument

And some information about it

Bamboo flutes and more variety of "clapper"

The lower floor of the Banaue Museum

Female Ifugao Traditional Dress

Female Ifugao In Traditional Dress


Following the museum, we toured more terraces in the area, including a visit to one of several market shops.


Including more jeepney riding

More scenic vistas

And more culture; a "wooden scooter" for racing

A Shop; incredibly bountiful for local trinkets

And the last terrace vista for the day

(recently restored by the "Restoration Project")

With some gorgeous clouds


And then we returned to the Banaue Hotel for the evening, full of new cultural information, exhausted from touring, but in absolute awe from what it beheld. It is no wonder they are often considered an "Eighth Wonder of the World" - I can wholly attest to that!

I had a brief consultation with our conductor, the serious and dedicatedly witty maestro Josefino Chino Toledo, regarding my piece, "The Hills of Banaue". We made a few corrections and discussed some of the unconventional techniques found within. The arrival of the orchestra (and thus, the open rehearsals of the 20 pieces) were mere days away.

But for tomorrow, more terrace tours!


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