Friday, August 24, 2007

Ifugao: Restore the Ifugao Rice Terraces before it's too late

We seem to forget there is a delicate balance between man and nature that needs to be preserved. Such a balance was close to perfect in the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras until neglect came into the picture. I've always lamented the fact that the Banaue Rice Terraces are now the Banaue House Terraces with so many unsightly structures built on them. I understand the need for more homes in the area to shelter the growing population. But can't they be built the traditional way so as not to destroy the landscape, the very cultural landscape which gives them funds to build their new structures in the first place?

The UNESCO has spoken: restore the Ifugao Rice Terraces or it's out of the UNESCO World Heritage List! Those shanties and other unsightly buildings must go! If new structures must be built, let them mimic the traditional Ifugao homes with cogon roofs and wooden walls. In fact, although it may be artificial, I feel covering all those structures with cogon would make a big difference. Or maybe the architects of the UAP can propose designs for affordable houses similar to the traditional ones which would give the Ifugao modern amenities but still preserve the cultural landscape. What do you think?

But in the long run, to preserve these terraces, we must endeavor to preserve the way of life which built them. That is tall order given the gradual growth and development these communities are undergoing. But it is one that has to be accomplished to save us from international embarrassment. Check out this article from GMANews.TV:

Unesco to RP: Restore Ifugao terraces or it's off heritage list
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) on Thursday said the scenic Ifugao Rice Terraces in the Cordilleras was at risk of being stricken off the World's Heritage List should the Philippines fail to restore it in two years.

Carmen Padilla, commissioner of the Unesco National Commission of the Philippines (Unacom), advised the government to take immediate measures to preserve and prevent further deterioration of the terraces, now included in Unesco's "Danger List" of heritage sites.

In a media forum at the La Dulce Fontanana in Greenhills in San Juan City, Padilla scored the construction of shanties and other structures on the centuries-old rice terraces in the upland Cordillera region.

Radio station dzBB quoted Padilla as saying that the structures may deface the site should an earthquake rock the region.

Other factors cited by the committee as contributing to the site's deterioration are the rising unemployment rate among farmers in the area as well as the deforestation activities in the land. Read more...

Taste of Asia Bloggers Meet
I arrived really late since I came from another event. More than half of the bloggers had left already. But at least the travel bloggers had fun. Here's myself, Anton of Our Awesome Planet, Ivan ManDy of Old Manila Walks, Eric of, and Nina of in the CliqueBooth.


  1. di kita nakita sa party. sayang.

  2. Glad you are back ! Just in time for another party! ;-)

    I saw on another blog that you are a Lim fan!?

    Restore the Ifugao Rice Terraces...I guess the old problem again... no money... :-(

  3. Don't forget to warn me in time for the frog festival! I am already hungry ! ;-)

  4. Hi Sidney! It's because Lim listens to the advice of HCS on heritage. Don't worry, I'll let you know about the frog festival.

  5. Hi! I'm the Vice Mayor of Vigan, I agree with you that something should be done to save the Banaue Rice Terraces from being delisted. The Local Government should come up with an action plan to address the issue. Maybe the HCS could facilitate in the conduct of a strategic planning in Banaue.

    Franz Ranches(

  6. I have not yet visited the rice terraces, but would be much more inclined to do so (and tell my tourist friends)if I knew that the local and national government were implementing some sort of sustainable eco-tourism initiative.

  7. I know descendants of Philip Beyer. Its sad knowing that the place he loved so dearly is deteriorating fast. The local government must act fast with the help of NGOs and the DOT.

    If I remember right, repairing a section would cost P100,000. Over population and the dwindling interest of the locals to farm is one of the causes. Farming has been too expensive as well.

    If we don't act now, we could lose this treasure forever.


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