Thursday, August 30, 2007

OUR TREASURES: The Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines is one big majestic spectacle. Paddies carved on steep mountains 1,500m above sea level. It is said that it is so huge, that when each paddy is connected from end to end – can circumnavigate the Earth halfway!

The Ifugao people live here – the highlanders of Luzon Island. This is the land of their ancestors and this rice terraces is the center of their lives and society for thousands of years. More than 2,000 years ago, Banaue was carved into the mountains using bare hands and a few tools! *If you don’t call that ingenuity, you are either a dog or a big fat lizard.*

Rice terraces are quite common in Asia. Other famous ones are the Tigalalang in Indonesia, Chiangmai in Thailand and Sapa in Vietnam. Even the Yamagata in Japan or Longsheng in China…but they are not as grand and as ancient as the Banaue.

The Banaue Terraces is actually a part of the much larger group Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Other parts of this collective group were carved 6,000 years ago! *When Nafertiti has just invented the eye shadow*

I’ve seen this place once back in 2000 and I promptly finished 3 film cartridges the instant I saw it! Banaue is not easy to reach and you have to find the best spot to get better view. Philippine tourism is not so organized – it’s the group of little private tour operators that would take you there.

That was when I was 21 doing my grand ASEAN sweeping tour for the first time. I had to dismiss my tour guide because he is f*cking up the trip. He is obviously unskilled and disorganized. I asked him to find me a nice local family to lodge me for the night and he can go home and leave me alone -- he did. And the rest is an adventure of a lifetime.

“Intaku manlo-loglog.
Intaku manlo-loglog.
Dangdang ay, sidang ilay
Insinali dumaay.”

“Intaku mansasakdu,
Intaku mansasakdu.
Dang dang ay, siding ilay
Insinali dumaay....."

I can go on and on and on singing this song those nice Igorot families taught me. It’s a song about, what else? rice harvesting. I ended up staying with them for 3 weeks in the mountains of Cordillera. No hotel, no fancy service, no toilet! I learned their custom, their folklores, their songs and dance! *panting* OH! OH! If I can show you how to dance their dance in loin clothyou all gonna love me! It's a dance imitating a flying eagle on a hunt.

The Philippines is one of the few countries close to my heart. I am eager, I am so interested to learn their culture – that in a span of 2 years --I lived in their magacities, I lived among the Tausugs, the Samals and the Badjaos in the south, the Ifugaos and the Igorots in the north – an adventure not all Filipinos would have the chance to do in their lifetime.

There is something magical about this place.


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Q The Conqueror said...

you lived among the Tausugs, Samals and Badjaos!?! Interesting. Where did you stay? Zamboanga? Jolo? Basilan?

aries said...

you sound even more filipino than me!...

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Q...I had a doctor friend who lived in Patikul in Sulu. I hopped from island to island to his horror becasue that was the height of the kidnapping hoolabaloo. I even reached Sabah from there!

I reached Basilan even before coming to Jolo because the Marines was so impressed with my "adventure", they invited me to see their camps in Basilan on my way to Jolo -- that's where I met more indegenous people.

When I visit a new place... I usually go first to the office of the Governor. That's the first person I look for -- and I get assistance all the time! Thet's a secret, ok?

@ Aries...I was married to 2 Filipinas previously. So, there. :-)

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

BY THE WAY...all of you might see the Banaue Rice Terraces all over the internet and calling it the "8th Wonder of the World" -- I have no problem with that.

If these people really love their "prized" sceneries, they should talk about it with love and substance -- not just giving it a title.

The world won't come to Banaue if the Filipinos themselves never liked it or at least be really proud of it. All the Filipinos I know are just so and so about this. Be proud! It's not very hard to be.

Lea said...

hi pisanu,

so rare to read this kind of appreciation for pinas (and from a foreigner pa!). how i wish more pinoys would feel the same way. kudos to you and your adventure! you should visit the T'bolis in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

riain said...

You are a really a charmer aren't you. Come back and I owe you a cold San Miguel. :)

Hugs Kabayan!

riain said...

uhm that comment was meant for pisanu - just in case anyone would start claiming San Miguel on my tab. :D

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Ryan...I wouldn't marry 2 Filipinas for nothing. I also had 2 previous Filipino lovers -- I tell you, I know everything about the Philippines there is to know.

And I see you liked this post too? Yipeee!

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Lea...thanks for coming back! I'm all smiles. If you are talking about the T'Boli people of South Philippines, then I know a few of them by phone.

My mother is promoting SE Asian textiles in Europe and T'Boli weaving is one of them.

Lea said...

...know few of them by phone??? didn't quite get that. i got the link of your blog from Carlos and then started reading, now i think 4 hours of my 8hr job was spent reading your blog. haha.

salamat for the good and interesting posts, i've shared the link to other friends, hope you don't mind. :)

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Lea...please do, please do! Share our links to everybody you know.

BISEAN is to create awareness. We will be one big community by 2015. Its good to know what our neighbors has, and show them waht we have too.

Familiarity eliminates hate and. So we wo'nt be strangers to each other, agree?

I know some T'Boli people by phone because I speak to them only by phone. When my mom wants to speak to them about textiles, I do it for her. =)

riain said...


your mom is promoting SEA textiles? I have very good contacts of pineapple cloth weaving in Aklan. In fact one of them is a close relative. Piña cloth has been weaved and traded for centuries and usually only the elite can afford this very expensive cloth which is usually used for the Philippine national costumes - the barong for men and baro at saya for women. During the APEC conference in the Philippines last 1996, world leaders were attired in these famous textiles. it is under promoted but those in the know know that piña is a very beautiful cloth that evokes of simplicity, elegance and simply a status symbol for the Philippines' well-heeled. The art of piña weaving was almost lost and was only revived in the past decade.

jake said...

pisanu, you're amazing, really amazing.

i wouldnt mind giving you a Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asia's Nobel Prize) for Promoting An Asia Without Boundaries (sounds like a Giordano paper bag)--if there's a category suited for your noble cause.

there was a lump in my throat when you said we, filipinos should be proud be filipinos. yup, it's not hard to be.



Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Thanks Jake! I'm glad you liked our blog. Send me the RM Award soon! You want my home address? LOL!

Underneath all of these patriotism, loving one's country...the best way to represent our countries is not comparing it with each other. Appreciating our neighbors say a lot about what kind of people we are.

The world has become "regional" and none of us should be left out.

imakidatheart said...

Im a half Ifugao who's very proud of his roots, and my Mother's hometown of Mayoyao, Ifugao, that my peers would wonder what a wonderful place it is and they all wanted to go once they have the chance!

It makes me sad that even a foreigner like you, Pisanu, felt how my people would take something as great as the Ifugao rice terraces for granted and never even have the chance to experience or fully appreciate its beauty.

The local tourism industry here in the Philippines is having renewed vigor. Thanks to promotions by the local media and the government, my fellow Filipinos, particularly those who live in the megacities, are having interest in what the provinces has to offer.

I'm going have my vacation again but this time I'll visit other provinces that I havent gone to yet. I will start up north in Batanes this summer.

Once Im done with my country, Angkor Wat/Thom is my next destination... Or perhaps Bangkok. By 2015 I hope I have visited each SE Asian country. ^_^

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ imakidatheart...thanks for all the comments. I guess you're a new reader? I'm all smiles! I hope you'd keep coming back and share our link. =)

Yeah, I felt strongly about the terraces of Ifugao. Why is something as grand as this, with thousand-of-year heritage be ignored?

Quite frankly, it is not enough just to feature it on tour videos. Get everything organized and bring the world there!

It would help to protect by awareness and add funds to it's preservation.

The Philippines put too much focus on festivals as a tourist come on. Festivals are just a few days. Banaue has survived for thousands of years! It's an easy choice.

lawrence said...

wow.. Kudos to you Pisanu! You've done a feat only a few Filipinos have made.

Well, I hope to go on a tour of the Philippines soon.

bleue said...

wow, you travelled the Philippines more than a Filipino does, kudos! the next time you go here, visit Sagada, you will DEFINITELY love the place! :)

VR said...

damn it pisanu! man i envy you! xD


please feature BATANES one time.....I have never been there but I think it's a very magical and romantic place. Very Peaceful as well.....

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Sawasdee Carranza. Batanes is already on our radar. Maybe after Vietnam, we will go there.

We're scheduled to check out Vigan and that new exhibit at the Ayala Museum in Manila...and according to our map...Batanes is close to Vigan. =)


raissa said...

My dad has been to a lot of places but he said nothing compares to the Banaue Rice Terraces. He was just struck by its beauty. I wish to go there when I go back home. Thanks!

Allen Yu said...

My girlfriend is from Batanes and she says it's more romantic than in Paris. lol. I wanna go there someday.

I'm going to Vigan in September. im excited!

Magandang Araw Pisanu.

jaytee8486 said...

I am proud to be a Filipino and I have not wavered answering everyone who asks me wherever I go!
One SE is so profound! I will also work for this by linking through your blog!
This is soo amazing!

danyhael said...

6,000 years!!! malays were here 6,000 years ago? my... how come we're still a li'l uncivilized... that's too sad... 6,000 years... we didn't even come up with dippin dots...

Baguio City Boi said...


Yes! 6,000 years ago! New studies said Austronesian people emigrated from Taiwan and went southward - Philippines, Malaysia, etc. While in school, we were taught that the second wave of migration to the Philippines came from Malaysia (Malays), scholars proved this wrong. It's the other way around. This is more logical. Why would Austronesians go further South if the Philippine Islands is just a stone's throw away (Bataan)? And the northern tip of the islands is close to the Cordillera mountains? Take that!



Sawadee krup. I like your blogging style. Very engaging and like one of your readers here, I spent half a day of my time in the office reading your f*ng blog :).

Civ Zeas Eruas said...

Wow.. very Nice.... You're Blog is very informative!.... I enjoy surfing your post!...
I hope I can do the same thing on my blog
continue posting..please!.. ;)

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