Banaue Rice Terraces, in Ifugao Stairway to Heaven Philippines

Traveling to The Banaue Rice Terraces (on the island of Luzon) where it is the heart of rice-terrace country and one of the great icons of the Philippines. Have been said to be like the 8th wonder of the world. The Ifugao are almost as famous for carving wood as they are for carving earth into green, fuzzy, rice-bearing steps. They were carved from the hillside by the tribes people of Ifugao about 2,000-3,000 years ago. The tribes people did this with their bare hands and crude implements, using primitive tools without using machinery to level the steps where they plant their rice with an ingenious irrigation system over 2000 years ago, which is what makes this wonder so attractive, aside from the fact that the rice terraces are still used today, an achievement in engineering terms that ranks alongside the building of the pyramids.


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The Banaue Rice Terraces were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO only 13 years ago (1995) is closely tied to the future of the tribes people themselves. The Banaue Rice Terraces (as well as the other regional ones) are now facing erosion because of a decline in upkeep. This is the reason why Banaue is also part of UN’s World Heritage Danger’s List. the Ifugaos’ new generation is migrating to nearby cities in search of better opportunities.

The rice terraces are stepping stones stretching towards the sky, where some of them reach almost 5,000 feet in altitude and cover about 4,000 square miles of land. There are many more rice terraces in Asia (f.e. on Bali_, but these in the Philippine Cordilleras are outstanding because of their altutude (up to 1500 meters) and steep slopes (maximum of 70 degrees). A complex system of dams, sluizes, channels and bamboo pipes keeps whole groups of terraces adequately flooded.

Aside from Banaue rice terraces, nearby are 4 other similar Ifugao terraces:
BATAD rice terraces. Also located in Banaue, it is home to the spectacular tiered, amphitheatre-shaped terraces.
MAYOYAO rice terraces is similarly situated in Banaue. The organic Ifugao rice called Tinawon, in red and white variety, is harvested here in abundance. HAPAO rice terraces. Its stone-walled rice terraces date back to 650 AD and is located in Hungduan, where Napulawan terraces can also to be found. KIANGAN rice terraces. It is home to two famous rice terraces sites namely: Nagacadan and Julungan, known for their size and visual impact.

It is interest to know that there is no land ownership around the terraces as such, but only the right to till, plant, harvest and maintain their family plots. Once the family ceases to do this, ‘ownership’ of the land passes to another, be it a neighboring farmer or relative of the original ‘owners’ .

The best time to go is between February and May end, when it is least likely that the views will be obscured by low level clouds.

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