Monday, October 25, 2010
The Banaue Rice Terraces (Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe) are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".
It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.
The Banaue Terraces are part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, ancient sprawling man-made structures from 2,000 to 6,000 years old. They are found in the provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The terraces are vastly found in the province of Ifugao and the Ifugao people have been its caretakers. Ifugao culture revolves around rice and the culture displays an elaborate array of rice culture feasts linked with agricultural rites from rice cultivation to rice consumption. Harvest season generally calls for thanksgiving feasts while the concluding harvest rites tungo or tungul (the day of rest) entail a strict taboo of any agricultural work. Partaking of the bayah (rice beer), rice cakes, and betel nut constitutes an indelible practice during the festivities and ritual activities.
Another thriving economy in the Banaue Rice Terraces is tourism. The Tourism industry has developed a number of activities for visitors which may include the traditional sight seeing of the terraces and visits to the tribes at the foot of the terraces.