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Adrien Le Falher

Maligcong, Philippines
The Last Picture I Will Take

You know how sometimes it seems like you’re about to give everything you have to take that ONE shot? Well, this is mine.

I was lucky enough to be in the Philippines then, and after some research I found this area north of Manila, up in the mountains, with 2000+ year old rice terraces. There was an issue though: it’s not really a touristic area, so there was no easy way to go there. 3 days of local buses, and a day of walking on the edge of mountains with our enormous bagpacks later, we finally arrive at this tiny village (4 houses, really) a few kilometers from the top of the mountains. It didn’t even look like much then, just a regular mountain with a few tress: the fabled rice terasses were on the other side of the mountains.

We find a lovely family, who agreed to take us in their home. We have our plan for the following day: we’d wake up around 3am and hike for about 2 hours in the dark to get at the top of the mountain right before sunrise. It was risky though, as the night was very cloudy. Maybe we wouldn’t see a thing, and it would have been all for nothing.

We eat this delicious dinner prepared by the family, and go to bed very early. But then… I get sick, sick like I’ve never been sick before. (Sorry this is graphic) I vomit all night long, spending the few hours we had to rest in the bathroom, feeling like I’m literally emptying myself, throwing all I have inside me. My wife wakes up, sees me like this. I tell her to go without me, feeling way too weak. While she prepares, I think of the ordeal it was to get there, and how sorry I would be not to see the rice terasses. I finally manage to get up and take my things.

We then hike up the forest, and my legs tremble. I stop several times, feeling dazy and so close to faint. Finally, we arrive at the top, a bit later than we calculated. And then… we don’t see anything. We’re inside the clouds, like a very thick fog, and we can’t see more than a a few trees forward. I sit down, exhausted, close my eyes. But then I feel a familiar warmth on my face. I open my eyes, and for a moment the sky opens up, and we can finally see below, the rice terasses glowing, golden from the morning sun. I shoot like crazy (I think we all know this sensation), feeling so tired, like this was the last picture I will ever take. Happy, I lay on the ground, and immediately fall asleep. My wife wakes me up after an hour, and we get back.

I spent the whole day inside trying to get better. Finally, I manage to eat something, and we leave for another adventure. This was epic, and when I see the picture, I remember all this… and how it was worth it.

Also, I’m not sure if it’s allowed, but I shot it as a panorama, and if you wish to see it in really big and zoom in, here is a link:

Can you count how many people are working on the terraces? :D I see 3!