Banaue Rice Terraces – Ifugao’s Treasure

Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao province offers a grand and magnificent sight. This Unesco World Heritage site is also rich in history and features how human resourcefulness and creativity can produce marvelous outcomes. Through hard work, persistence and adaptability, the Ifugao natives managed to survive by flattening the mountain’s surface layer by layer and use them as farmlands. This more than two thousand years of practice has put together a glorious wonder that brought fascination to the people across the globe. According to archeological and historical studies, their basic tools were made out of polished rocks, copper and bronze. These stone-walled terraces are the highest, best built and most extensive in the world.

Banaue Rice Terraces exploration
Let’s explore Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue Rice Terraces Family Picture

There are several rice terraces in the Ifugao region but the Banaue Rice Terraces viewpoint is the most popular tourist spot. The photos in this area are the most commonly used in print materials like textbooks, magazines and postcards. After getting a good look at the rice terraces, I was reminded of the first time that I saw its picture in our textbook during my elementary days. I already found it amusing as a kid and seeing its splendor as an adult got me more amazed.

Banaue Rice Terraces map
Banaue Map
River in the rice terraces

 

Best Time To Visit

The tourism officer told us that we’re lucky for catching them in their greenest form. If you plan to give it a visit as well, you should take note that we got there last June 1, 2018. You can also take into consideration that the rice planting cycle is typically 3-6 months. I saw some social media posts of the rice terraces around April 2018 and it was all brown because the rice planting season just started. Late May to early June is the start of the typhoon season here in the Philippines. Its delay during our trip was really a big blessing for us. When we left the area on June 5—a heavy storm came the day after.

Banaue Rice Terraces
An Ifugao
A cement platform for viewing the rice terraces.

 

Getting Around The Rice Terraces

Unlike the other terraces, the local government created a cemented platform that will make it easy for everyone to get a closer look at the rice terraces. The platform has four stone statues that they refer to as rice gods. Locally known as Bulul or Tinagtaggu, these are believed to have powers to aid production and healing. We’ve seen several of them from the other parts of the rice fields as well.

Bulul or Tinagtaggu Statue
The railed viewpoint of the Banaue Rice Terraces

We realized that their actual size is more immense once you get close to them. They look less steep in the pictures. Walking at the edge of these terraces is not a joke because the height per level could be as high as a single or two-story house. We were really careful about each step because just by looking below, you can easily tell that a wrong fall here can cause serious injury.

Really steep and scary when you look down below
Ifugao’s wooden bikes in a souvenir shop

 

The Future of the Banaue Rice Terraces

It’s sad that the younger generations of Ifugaos are slowly abandoning the rice terraces. According to our tour guide Alvin, the portion of the rice terraces where we can see thick bushes and trees were former rice fields. But the children who inherited those decided to give up farming and work in big cities instead. Alvin told us that those trees came from fruit-eating birds that dropped some seeds. He also mentioned that everything looked a bit different now compared to what he saw during his childhood. I hope that a new farming innovation with modern equipment will encourage the Ifugaos to continue their rice terraces farming tradition to preserve this cultural treasure.

Even public transport here looks adventurous

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