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Banaue Rice Terraces; Stairway to the Sky: A Photo Gallery
How would you like to climb a stairway that almost reaches the sky? You would? Then come and enjoy with me this visit to the Banaue Rice Terraces, your "Stairway to the Sky". This work of man on nature is truly awesome and inspiring.
Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces are rice fields carved into the mountains of the Ifugao region in the Philippines. These rice fields are believed to be 2000-3000 years old, and are lovingly called by Filipinos as the "8th wonder of the world".
Because of their high altitude, clouds usually cover the topmost parts of these terraces during early mornings and rainy months. Thus, they look like "stairway to the sky" during these times.
The Eight Wonder of the World
Why do we refer to these rice fields as the "8th wonder of the world?"
Well, it's because they were built by the indigenous people of the area using only their bare hands and some crude tools. These terraces are really an engineering wonder because they are found 1500 meters above sea level and extend to about 10,360 kilometers around the mountains in the region.
Sections of these rice fields can be seen from various points in the region. In some parts, they look like amphitheaters, while in others, they are like pyramids with steps.
It is said that if all the steps making up these rice terraces were put together, they can extend halfway around the globe.
How these terraces were built is not the only engineering wonder. The other wonder is its irrigation system. The mountaintops are covered with rainforests and run off from these rainforests deliver water down the various sections of the fields. The water is channeled through a system of canals that runs across and down the mountains.
Culture and Tradition
Many tradition and cultural practices of the people living on or near these rice terraces revolve around the rhythm of the life cycle of rice. The people have rituals associated with every step of the rice life cycle from planting to cultivation, harvesting to consumption.
In between rice planting - harvesting seasons, people also plant other crops to sustain them during the months while they are waiting for the rice harvest season.
Older people who no longer work in the fields usually don their costumes to earn a few pesos as models of people taking photos of these "stairway to the sky."
Some Challenges About and Around the Rice Terraces
Maintaining the rice terraces is a big challenge to the government and the people in the area. The decreasing rainforest cover is a major problem. This brings about extremes of drought and erosion during dry and rainy seasons respectively.
For example, the series of typhoons that affected the area just this year eroded a big section of the terraces. In addition, the roads connecting the region to nearby areas have also been affected by landslides.
Another major concern is the younger generation's disinterest in farming. Many of the younger generation are not interested in becoming farmers and in maintaining the traditions of their tribe. The lure of new opportunities in the city is fast decreasing the number of younger people staying in the area.
These challenges are now being addressed seriously not only by the local government but also by the national government.
Private institutions like UNESCO are also helping because this 8th wonder of the world is really worth preserving.
Stairway to the Sky
I never realized how truly awesome this place is until I visited it myself. However, I hope that through this photo gallery, I somehow was able to show that this indeed is a monument to man's perseverance and ingenuity.
It truly is a stairway to the sky!
Other Hubs and Photo Galleries
If you enjoyed this hub, you might also enjoy some of my other photo essays and galleries right here in HubPages!