This is a story I have dined out on for many years. I enjoy watching people’s expressions when I casually drop the line: “Did you realize you have just been having dinner with a “living goddess”? I could write a whole chapter of my book about the reactions I have received!
One cold, misty January morning, Ben and I boarded a local Benguet bus from the Philippines’ summer capital, Baguio City bound for Banaue further north in the vast Cordillera Mountain range. There was no way of knowing then, of course, that I was setting out from Baguio a mere mortal but would return a week later as a living goddess.
Banaue is famous for its fabled rice terraces, dug out of the sheer mountainsides more than 3000 years ago, by the ancestors of today’s Igorote tribes using only primitive implements. The terraces are known in the Philippines as the Eighth Wonder of the World but to the Igorote, Ifugao and Kalinga tribes who inhabit them they are referred to as the “Stairway of the Gods”. Reaching from valley floor to peak they exceed, in some places, 5000 feet. And, as I watched them appear and recede in the high altitude…
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