The rugged mountain terrain of Luzon, Philippines holds what is known as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Over the centuries, indigenous farmers carved an engineering masterpiece of integrated irrigated rice terraces into the steep mountainsides. These terraces stand in quiet testament to cultures that have resolved around rice, ecology and the relationship to the environment.
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The Banaue Rice Terraces as seen from Viewpoint on the Banaue-Bontoc National Road. Although this cluster is not one of the five UNESCO designated World Heritage sites, the terraces and the view are magnificent. In this area, the terrace walls are between 12 and 18 feet in height. Note the stairway path up the side of the mountain.
The Batad Rice Terraces are among the most popular tourist destinations in Ifugao. The mountain-side has been terraced like a giant amphitheater. In 1995, the Batad Rice Terraces were among the five terrace clusters in Ifugao to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage, a living cultural landscape. The terraces are only accessible by hiking.
Spectacular stone-walled terraces are built on one side of a narrow valley, as seen along the trail leading down to the village of Batad. Tropical forests on the mountain tops hold the rain water in the soil. Eventually, the water finds its way to the surface to form small streams. These streams are diverted to flow down through the terraces, in what is still considered an engineering masterpiece.
Symmetry. The terraces must be completely level in order for the water to flow down and through the the terrace cluster. In large commercial rice growing areas, this is accomplished with laser-controlled levels. Here in the Cordillera, it was done by hand, with a shovel, and a deep understanding of hydro-logical engineering. These terraces are near Lubuagan. Kalinga along the Bontoc-Tabuk road.
It’s hard to imagine the enormity of the terraces in terms of the manpower required to continuously maintain the terrace walls, and prepare, plant and harvest an annual crop of rice. Note the now cemented stairway that snakes up and through the Banuae Viewpoint terraces.
On a calm, clear morning, the mountains surrounding Kibungan, Benguet are reflected in the flooded terraces. Many of the terraces in the Province of Benguet have been converted to vegetable farming. With a market in Baguio, several barangays in Benguet still grow their traditional heirloom rice varieties. Photo (c) H Morris.
The setting sun reflects off the newly planted rice terraces. The Nagacadan Rice Terraces are located at Barangay Nagacadan, Kiangan, Ifugao. The Nagacadan cluster was declared a Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1995 in recognition of its outstanding universal value. The rice terraces cover an expanse of about 150 hectares. Bisected by a river, the rice terraces appears as two distinct ascending rows.