I love pronouncing the Tagalog name of “Hagdan-Hagdang Palayan” and was amused on how the image on our textbook exactly describe its name- a staircase of rice paddies. Above all as a kid it embedded on me the value of hard work and ingenuity. How our ancestral Ifugao brothers and sisters carved the now more than 2000 year old terraces relying on their gifted hands and with none to very minimal equipment used.
Even though the once magnificent vast terraces which believe if the steps were put end to end can encircle half the globe is no longer on its glorious most state, there is a certain charm that remain, something that should be appreciated still.
I love hearing their stories of Banaue Rice Terraces particularly on how it look like back when they were kids and how much has change since then. I love hearing stories of their encounter with tourists from various countries, usually the group of people they patiently wait each day, expecting a small donation in return for a souvenir photo with them.
The Ifugao is one of the most unique ethnic group of the Mountain Province region.
With their name derived from the word “ipugo” which translates to “from the hill”, their customs, traditions and religious beliefs were untouched by colonialism. Apart from the rice terraces, they take pride on their literature, woodcarvings of their spiritual deities, colorful woven textiles and traditional clothing where the men wear g-string called “wanno” and the woman wear skirt or “tapis”.
Partly damaged by drought, failed irrigation system and soon to be further damage by modern changes on the over-all landscape of the town of Banaue , it is fair to say that the UNESCO Heritage Banaue Rice Terraces has lost a huge chunk of its charm which in a way is a personal heartbreaking sight.
“O Land of Beautiful Rice Terraces,
Like stairways reaching the blue
We pledge our hearts in true devotion
To work for the best for your sake
O Land of Hudhud and the Alim
As sung by forebears of old
There stands the Hagabi of Kadangyans
And rich culture we proudly own.”