Not Just A Tourist But A Family Friend: Mayoyao’s Paradise Rice Terraces

By Mark Wiens 16 Comments

The jaunt from Batad to Mayoyao took nearly eight hours and included hiking, walking down completely barren mud roads, keeping my footing while crawling over fresh landslides, swinging back and forth on creeping jeeps, and clenching on to highly unstable homemade vehicular devices.

The vehicle that took us to Mayoyao
One of the vehicles that took us to Mayoyao

“In Mayoyao you are not just a tourist, but a family friend,”

said Efren, my guide.  “Let’s go and register at the town (village) municipality.”  I arrived to see 3 or 4 cops drinking coffee sprawled out in the office, elevated feet, and chuckling amongst themselves.  They sprang to their feet putting on serious faces, and looking for a notebook, welcomed me to Mayoyao town proper.  After about 5 minutes of searching for what I assume was the “tourism registration book (I don’t think it really existed)”, they finally found a blank piece of paper and had me write my name on it.

“How many tourists come to Mayoyao,” I asked politely.  “Nut so manny,” they sheepishly replied.

Mayoyao village proper on the mountainside


I was happy to be the only tourist in Mayoyao, the rice terraces were astounding, stretching through the entirety of a valley, from the bottom to the top. The Batad rice terraces was one village correlating with its set of rice terraces.  In Mayoyao the terraces are a continuation of “rice terrace sprawl” with differing villages (known as a barangay) on each ridge or hill.  If Batad is New York City, Mayoyao would surely be Los Angeles as a spread out mega-rice-opolis.  The size and sheer stretch of Mayoyao and what they call the undiscovered “paradise terraces” is stupefying.

I rested my head at the only lodge in town known as “Milcah.”  To myself for 200 Pesos (USD 4) I had an entire house, 4 or 5 rooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, and a living room.  Though it is the only place to stay, it is a great place to stay.  The owner encouraged me to invite my friends and call her ahead of time to prepare the lodge for the visitors. (If you are interested give Ruth Benigno  a buzz at 09058331053 and let her know to prepare the house for you.)

If the weather cooperates, the Paradise terraces of Mayoyao will surely make you stagger.  In the morning my guide and I hiked to a viewpoint where we could see the framework of rice terraces flawlessly adapting into the natural environment in a beautiful harmony.  A symphony of the “hallelujah chorus” erupted in my head as I gazed back and forth on the horizon, staring glossy eyed as clouds precariously floated about.

View of Mayoyao Paradise Terraces


From the top viewpoint we hiked down into the depths of the terraces where we went from home to home, finally breaking at Efren’s grandmothers house.  We hung out, chatting with the grandmother while sampling the home brewed rice wine.  Something I had already known from being Immersed in Payatas and having valuable adventures in Bicol was the warm hospitality of Filipinos towards strangers.  The grandma seemed to love me and she couldn’t understand a word out of my mouth.

Paradise rice terraces of Mayoyao
Paradise rice terraces of Mayoyao

I reflected back at the first quote Efren had told me, “not just a tourist, but a family friend.” The villages and rice terraces are set up in a fashion where the main paths lead from home to home, making it impossible to avoid a house when touring or going from one place to another.  It is alright to take a break, siesta, or just hang out and rest outside of anyone’s home (which everyone does).  This lifestyle has created a people full of warmth and a close knit community.  It is easy to interact with friendly locals who are mutually just as curious as you are about everything.  It really is true that in Mayoyao, but really all over the Philippines, you are a “family friend.”

Mayoyao paradise terraces

-Migration Mark

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  • leandro elahe

    12 years ago

    thanks for sharing to the world about our humble place Mayoyao.we really appreciate it.actually it is our problem how we let Mayoyao be known also to the outside world.Thank you very much and feel free to come again.u are always welcome.and if some wants to visit,you an contact me at [email protected] or my mobile no.09058064261.i’m a tourguide accredited by the Dep’t of Tourism.

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      No problem, it was my pleasure to share the wonderful time I had. If I make it back soon, I will be sure to contact you. I just released some more memories of hiking in the rice terraces from Mayoyao to Magulon in my blog. Thanks a lot!

    • JOHHAY

      7 years ago

      Hello wow nice you are a tourist guide I didn’t know about that we had a guest from Kazakhstan she came alone and explore the rice terraces by her own how much is your charge?

  • Lornadahl

    12 years ago

    Heard you, Kat. 🙂 We should definitely explore Mayoyao.

    I encourage you to join Save The Ifugao Terraces Movement’s (SITMo) heritage tours. I joined the harvest tour and went river rafting in Mongayan to Ibulao. We should try river rafting in Chico River (level 4 river)!!!

    Great photos, Mark. 🙂

  • Kat

    12 years ago

    Never been there. It’s really weird, as I lived in Baguio for 4 years but never really tried to explore the other places in the Mountain Province. Might drag my friend Lornadahl around for that soon.

  • Kat

    12 years ago

    Oh, you stayed at the same place where my friend did. She went there a few months back to research for an article. This is here first post and it made me want to go there.

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Kat, have you been to Mayoyao yet? It is a truly wonderful place to go.

      • JOHHAY

        7 years ago

        Hello mark thanks that you like our place mayoyao but sorry to dis agree with you there’s another lodge name HELEN’s PLACE LODGE that is in onagol just near the school high school and elementary and there’s another lodge just near milkah lodge. In our place we offer coffee for free iethir instance or brood coffe we don’t have coffe maker but we use plunger. Our rooms our limited but each room has hot and cold shower with towel,toilet paper and soap. Sometimes I prepare the beddings for the guests. I have the picture of the lodge in my facebook [email protected]. If ever you wanna try our place here are numbers to contac:09125248020 09205207413 09061410715. The price is cheap
        Thanks a lot for your time
        God blessssss