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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces (Tagalog: Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe) also called Payaw, are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.

Locals to this day still plant rice and vegetables on the terraces, although more and more younger Ifugaos do not find farming appealing, often opting for the more lucrative hospitality industry generated by the Rice Terraces[citation needed. The result is the gradual erosion of the characteristic "steps", which need constant reconstruction and care. In 2010 a further problem was drought, with the terraces drying up completely in March of that year.

Another thriving economy in the Banaue Rice Terraces is tourism. The Tourism industry has developed a number of activities for visitors which may include the traditional sight seeing of the terraces and visits to the tribes at the foot of the terraces. A Mumbaki (traditional Ifugao witch doctor) is also recommended to visitors, these doctors can perform spiritual healing rituals.[citation needed] Domestic tourism however has gone down over the past few years. A contributing factor to this is the treatment of domestic tourists by the local guides in the area where it has been reported that local guides are more willing to entertain foreign visitors.[citation needed] The Batad Environmental Tour Guides Association (BETGA) in association with the Batad Baranguay authorities are currently laying a concrete track down from the Batad Saddle to the village proper.

Aside from the Banaue Rice terraces there are 4 other similar terraces, the Batad Rice Terraces, Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Mayoyao, Hapao Rice Terraces and Kiangan Rice Terraces. The Batad Rice Terraces are located in Barangay Batad in Banaue, these terraces shaped resembles an amphitheatre. The Mayoyao Rice Terraces are for a rice variety called "tinawon", a rare type of organic rice which are grown in red and white variety in these terraces. The Hapao Rice Terraces are located in Hungduan, these terraces are stone-walled and date back to 650 AD. The Kiangan Rice Terraces is similarly located in Banaue, here they grow the rice varieties of nagacadan and julungan.


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