Farmland stacks to the sky on a trek through the Ifugao Rice Terraces.
Be careful for this one,” says Jonathan Domondon as he delicately steps over a thorny branch fallen across the trail. “We call it lupa. If it touches your skin, it will cause a severe rash, bad fever, and you’ll be sick for days. Our forefathers blocked the trails with lupa to stop the Japanese invasion in World War II.”
Jonathan—26 years old, wearing shorts and a T-shirt—is our guide and a trained naturalist. He knows every plant along our path through the Cordillera Central on the northern Philippine island of Luzon. This hollow-trunked fern is used to channel water; that soft-leafed fern is boiled for medicinal use. There are wild grapes, wild strawberries, wild onions.