It is the main commercial and transportation hub that connects smaller barrios across Mountain Province. Here is where you can resupply your pack for your next hike or catch the bus that will connect you back to major city like Baguio or board the jeepney that will bring you forward to another remarkable smaller town like Batad.
Arriving at Banaue on an early Saturday morning will get you familiarize on how dynamic and vibrant the small town is. It is full of people who get up early to spent their weekend morning doing errands possibly in preparation for the next week ahead or those who are coming home for a weekend break, they are mainly students and workers who are studying or working on the nearby provinces.
Banaue Market has arrays of fresh produce sold by farmers directly harvested from their lands. Like the rest of the weekend buyers coming from other barrios, they farmers also travel early morning to trade their goods.
I entered the basement market looking for a place for lunch and found one stall at corner most part. In Philippines we called this “carinderia” or “turo-turo”, where variety of dishes in pots are available and you just have to point the dish that you want best to go with a bowl of rice.
Apart from the usual produce sold at the market, one of the things that caught my eyes are the huge bundle of tobacco leaves sold at the basement.
Moma is similar to the local version of a cigarette with some even claiming having an effect stronger than cigarette. Though cheweing moma is a habit popular among older people, it is common to see younger generations enjoying moma too. Once chewed it causes temporary red coloring of the mouth, a natural color emitted by the betel nut.
On the streets of Banaue or anywhere else in Mountain Province, it is common to see street pavement with reddish stain. These are merely moma stains spat by locals. The color is not a very pleasant sight thus there are several signs discouraging spitting moma.
I contracted a tricycle driver to bring me to the famous Banaue Rice Terraces for a fixed price. Before heading to the famous terraces, he asked me if he can make a short detour and bring home the chicken and vegetables that his wife will cook for lunch. Without any hesitation, we made our way towards his home passing by the villages I can only see from afar a few minutes ago, met his lovely family and I must say that the view from their living room window is one of the best view I’ve seen from any living room window I been to.