Our trainings have taken us to many locations on the Luzon island of the Philippines. This is the most inhabited island of the Philippine chain. Manila is located in its' heart. Millions travel its roads everyday.
But the northern part of the island is much less dense in population. One reason is the Cordillera Mountain range. It is rugged and very jungle like in vegetation. Living in the Mountain Province takes a lot of hard work. The life is not as easy as those that live in the valleys and lowlands. But it does have advantages of cooler temperatures and less humidity.
It is in this beautiful area that a people some 3000 years ago began a feat that is unequaled in the world.
These are the Benaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Province of Northern Luzon. History says it took over 2000 years to build these terraces from the river up. The feat was entirely done by hand with primitive tools. One terrace at a time was built to the contour of the ridge that gave it its structure. One rock at a time to create retaining walls for a level area for growing needed food. As the population grew, so did the number of terraces. It is said that if the terraces were put end to end they would reach half the way around the world.
This photo shows the rice terraces down the Benaue valley. There are other valleys with terraces, but this is the most dramatic. The terraces cover over 4000 sq. miles in this region. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is called the Eighth Wonder of the World by those that live here.
These terraces are used today much like they have been used since they began long before the birth of Christ. They are planted, watered and harvested all by hand. Cariboa and Brahma are used to help with the heavy work. The lowest of the terraces are about 700 ft above sea level and the upmost are about 5000 ft above sea level. It is a Living Cultural Landscape and an engineering marvel.
The rice terraces are supplied by water from mountain streams in the area. The system is a marvel in hydraulics as each terrace can be watered or drained at appropriate times in the growing process. In this region, a special strain of rice is grown. The Tinawon Rice is used here because it can germinate in freezing temperatures. Also it grows chest high as compared to the rice grown in the lowlands that is around waist high. This Tinawon Rice is also classified as organic and when cooked, it turns red.
Well more pink I would say. And you know me, I'm not a hugh rice fan, but I like this variety.
Many people visit this region every year to see and hike these mountains and rice terraces. I for one can check this off my list with a true appreciation for a people that made this happen. And it happened because they needed to take care of their families. Families are the motivation behind all good works.
It is a place of grandeur and beauty that more than met my highest expectation as I dreamed of a time I could see them.