neighbors and their driver, Boy, invited me to join them for two
days (Wednesday and Thursday) at the rice terraces at Banaue,
and I was glad to go. "Boy" -- isn't that a cool name? Boy was
a pretty good roommate. He didn't speak a word to me the entire
took a long time to drive there (as it always does), but the sight
was worth it (as it always is). There were spectacular views of
lush green rice terraces cut into the sides of mountains. The
Filipinos call this the eighth wonder of the world. It was truly
incredible. 2000 years of farming labor had created narrow, flat
fields the entire height of the hills. Views of bright green terraces
going up both sides of the valleys were amazing. There were hundreds
of them -- all shapes and sizes. A misty mountaintop created the
feeling of this undiscovered land. Really cool.
popped out our hotel-provided quick-guide to the area and looked
for other interesting sights. A nearby village looked promising.
Actually getting to the village was a bit of a struggle. We had
to climb/slide down a very steep trail that went on for half a
mile or so. When we finally got there, all we could see were skinny
dogs and a bunch of huts. We went inside one and a woman was selling
some carvings her husband had created. They were pretty good,
so I bought a black ladle carved from the Philippine national
wood. It had a lizard eating a man's head on it.
the guy asks us if we want to see "the bones". Sure, man -- I'm
always up for a good bone viewing. He goes into a back room and
pulls out this wrapped woven cloth. He unwraps it, and inside
are the bones of his dead grandfather. It's the custom in the
village to keep the bones of your dead ancestors in your home.
His grandfather was killed during the Japanese occupation of the
island in WWII. The family placed his body in a cave for two years.
At the end of two years the bones are mostly stripped of everything,
so they are removed, wrapped in a cloth and placed in the home.
was surprised by how small the sack was. It was about the size
of my book-bag. You can fit a lot of human bones in a small space.
The skull took up most of the room. Those bones really rattled
too. I guess I've never listened to bones before. (I think I've
heard of village tribes making musical instruments out of bones.)
Bones sound a lot different when they're not covered with all
guy had a bunch of bags of bones in his house. I guess they all
probably looked and sounded pretty much the same. Speaking of
bones, in the rice terrace region there were a few stands selling
lots of them -- water buffalo skulls, monkey skeletons (I hope
they were just monkeys), pig skulls, etc. It was a tradition to
put skulls on the exterior of your hut. The size or type of the
skull showed your social class. If I had a hut, I would probably
be a rat skull -- not quite up to water buffalo status.