Real Facts About Banawe Rice Terraces and Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras: Philippines' Most Visited Tourist Attractions
Which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Banawe Rice Terraces or Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras?
The famous and beautiful Banaue or Banawe Rice Terraces is considered by Filipinos as the “8th wonder of the world”. This tourist spot is one of the most admired and most visited tourist attractions in the Philippines. This amazing human achievement was built over 2,000 years ago by the Ifugaos using primitive tools only such as stones and woods. This panoramic beauty is a manifestation of engineering skills and intelligence of native Filipinos.
1.) Banawe is a municipality in the province of Ifugao in the Cordillera Administrative Region or CAR, an autonomous region in Northern Luzon.
2.) Banawe Rice Terraces is Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe in the Filipino language. This 2,000 year-old terraces were carved into the mountains of Ifugao.
3.) The two other most prominent rice terraces sites aside from the Banawe Rice Terraces in the town of Banawe are the Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces.
4.) The term “Ifugao” is both referred to the name of the province and the name of the people.
5.) For clarification and contrary to popular belief, the Banaue Rice Terraces are not a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nevertheless, it is still one of the most visited tourist spots in the country.
6.) The Banawe Rice Terraces was not included in the UNESCO inscription, due to the presence of numerous modern structures.
7.) However, the famous Banaue Rice Terraces are a National Cultural Treasure under Ifugao Rice Terraces.
8.) The Banaue Rice Terraces was chosen as one of the two green globe destinations of the country by the World Travel and Tour Council.
9.) It received an “International Historic Engineering Landmark Award” from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
10.) These are the 5 clusters inscribed as part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras and declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Batad, Bangaan, Hungduan, Mayoyao Central and Nagacadan – all in the province of Ifugao.
11.) Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras passed by UNESCO’s standards due to the blending of the physical, socio-cultural, economic, religious, and political environment as a living cultural landscape.
12.) Batad and Bangaan are under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Banaue but are not referred to as the Banaue Rice Terraces.
13.) The shape of Batad Rice Terraces in Batad, Banaue resembles an amphitheatre while the Mayoyao Rice Terraces are for a rice variety called tinawon, a rare type of organic rice which is grown in white and red variety.
14.) The Hapao Rice Terraces or Hungduan Rice Terraces in Hungduan are stone-walled terraces.
15.) Nagacadan and Julungan rice varieties are grown in the Kiangan Rice Terraces or Nagacadan Rice Terraces.
16.) They are knowledgeable and skillful in water irrigation, stonework, earthwork and terrace maintenance.
17.) The stone walled rice terraces exceed the height of the world’s tallest building if the vertical distance between top and bottom row are measured.
18.) The terraces are located at an elevation of approximately 1,500 meters and cover an area of 10,360 km² of mountainside.
19.) If the combined length of the terraces’ steps is put end to end, it would encircle more than half of the Earth’s equator.
20.) The terraces are fed by unique and intricate irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces.
21.) Cultivation of the terraces and planting of rice are done manually – no beast of burden and no machine. Shovel and pick are the only implements used.
22.) Because majority of the young generations of Ifugaos are not interested in farming anymore, it resulted in the gradual erosion of the steps of the terraces.
23.) This problem was aggravated by the drought of 2010 where the terraces dried up completely. Reconstruction must be done to remedy the problem.
24.) One unique thanksgiving feast tradition of the Ifugao people is the harvest rites called “tunggul” which means “the day of rest”. During such celebration, Ifugaos are prohibited to do any agricultural work.
25.) During such celebration of festivities and ritual activities, the Ifugaos drink bayah or rice beer, eat rice cakes, and chew betel nut.
26.) The Ifugao people practice traditional farming, occasionally cultivate root crop and have been known to culture edible shells, fruit trees, and other vegetables.
27.) Alim, a tribal ritual is performed by Mumbakis (traditional Ifugao witch doctor). It is their way to ask blessings where an animal is offered to the gods.
28.) The Ifugao Rice Terraces once extend to the province of Isabela and Aurora but much of it had eroded because local farmers slowly abandoned the terraces.
29.) Banaue, Ifugao can be reached by PUB, PUJ or private car from Baguio City or from Manila via NLEX, SCTEX and Maharlika Highway passing through the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya.
30.) Accommodation is not a problem in Banawe. There are several inns and restaurant in the area. Souvenir items and native products are also available for visitors.