Construction of the terraces is carried out with great care and precision. An underground conduit is placed within the fill for drainage purposes. The groups of terraces blanket the mountainsides, following their contours. Above them, rising to the mountain-tops, is the ring of private woods (muyong), intensively managed in conformity with traditional practices, which recognize a total ecosystem, which assures an adequate water supply to keep the terraces flooded. Water is equitably shared, and no single terrace obstructs the flow on its way down to the next terrace below. There is a complex system, of dams, sluices, channels and bamboo pipes, communally maintained, which drain into a stream at the bottom of the valley. – UNESCO
This is describing a structure built more than 2,000 years ago. Awesome, isn’t it? Although because of the presence of many modern structures around, the Banaue Rice Terraces was not included on the UNESCO list of “World Heritage in Danger”, it nonetheless holds the same complex trickle-down irrigation system that the UNESCO inscribed clusters have. And these clusters, all found in the Province of Ifugao, are Nagacadan Terraces in Kiangan, Hungduan Terraces, Central Mayoyao Terraces, Bangaan Terraces and Batad Terraces.
The Banaue Rice Terraces however, despite the exclusion, remains to be the more popular tourist destination due to its accessibility and proximity to town, which is proving to be both harmful and beneficial to the land.
These stonewalled rice paddies is considered one of mankind’s greatest engineering feats and is every Filipino’s pride.
The 8th wonder of the world (as many Filipinos call it) begins at the base of the mountain and extends upland following the contours of the mountain– almost 5,000 feet above sea level.
This is North Luzon’s most famous sight and one of Southeast Asia’s most popular tourist destinations. Famous not only for its sculpted beauty but for the traditional craftsmanship and cultural landscape dating back many centuries and is preserved to this day.
That said, these terraces are slowly being abandoned and already showing signs of damage and deterioration due to the lack of maintenance. Many of the new generations would rather pursue work outside of the rice fields, opting to be guides or drivers.
Banaue is some 348 kilometers away from Manila and a good 8-10 hours drive. It is a small market village sitting about 1,500 feet above sea level. The town is not exactly enchanting, thanks to poor planning but it has its own appeal, me thinks – how can you go wrong anyway when breakfast comes with a view like this?