One of the most important treasures of the country is the Banaue Rice Terraces. Although it is widely known all over the world, I never really had the biggest urge to visit the place thinking that it was just a simple eye candy. I thought the view is just the same as it is seen on the photos or on TV. Ha, as always, I was proven wrong when we visited last April.
Planting time is February to April so we sighted some farmers working early in the morning. I could just stare at the rice paddies and the mesmerizing height of the terraced valleys for hours as I inhaled the fresh, cold breeze of the mountains.
We went to the Sunrise Viewpoint along with hundreds of other tourists. We tried out Ifugao costumes and headdresses and took pictures of ourselves with the rice terraces on the background. From the view point, you can see the irrigation, a waterfall on the far left, and a small village on the right. The rice paddies looked flawless from where we were with the reflection of the unpolluted clouds and with some blinding us with the uninterrupted rays of the sun.
The Banaue Rice Terraces is nothing superficial. It is not merely a tourist spot. Around 2000 years ago, it was made to follow the contours of the mountains as the natives recognized their need for rice and lack of plains. It is an evidence of the human’s ability to adapt to its environment. That doesn’t only prove creativity, but also the knack of mankind to commune with nature. For the Ifugaos, it is not only a livelihood. It is also a sacred tradition, a necessity for social and economic balance. And with all that, a spectacular heritage site has evolved.
Unfortunately, there are existing threats to the rice terraces. The younger generation prefer to migrate to the cities; hence, the impending loss of people to hand in the tradition to. Also, landslides continue to happen in the northern part of Luzon posing risk for the destruction of the rice terraces. On the bright side, the government is doing their part in the preservation of the national treasure. I just hope that the natives also recognize that they have greener pastures at home than in the city.
I feel like one cannot fully appreciate Banaue Rice Terraces without actually being there. As the cliché goes, the photos do not do it justice. It’s true. Shame on me for only thinking that it was just an eye candy. Besides the unnoticeable tablet of information that we found, there was nothing else to tell us about the underlying history of the Banaue Rice Terraces. I know we should’ve known this from school, but I feel like more importance should be given to its origin, how it actually works, and how it can be preserved. It should not only be marketed as some place with a breathtaking view but as a true national treasure to be proud and protective of.