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Batad, Philippines - Rice Terraces

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In the fastness of the Cordillera mountains, 250-km north of Manila, Ifugao tribespeople have carved a livelihood from bare rock. Over the centuries, generations of Ifugao have laid stone after stone constructing dikes to hold back what little soil washed off the mountainsides creating vertical gardens that rise as "stairways to the heavens."

 

Rice terraces are common throughout Asia but nowhere are they as spectacular as in the rugged mountains of northern Luzon. The Ifugaos have resisted integration into mainstream society and still practice their traditional farming and religion although headhunting is on the wane.

 

Batad is a place to reflect, gaze, wonder at the beauty of it all and bask in the pleasure of having such a place on this earth. A tour of the mountainous region of Northern Luzon is not complete without a visit there.

 

The Batad Rice Terraces are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.

 

The Batad Rice Terraces are inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Locals to this day still plant rice and vegetables on the terraces, although more and more younger Ifugaos do not find farming appealing, often opting for the more lucrative hospitality industry generated by the Rice Terraces. The result is the gradual erosion of the characteristic "steps", which need constant reconstruction and care.

 

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Taken on January 12, 2011