Stairway to Heaven: Off to The Banaue Rice Terraces!

Article by Sherwin Funa, ASEAN-Korea Blog Correspondent from Philippines

I can still recall when I was a kid, I am fond of drawing and painting. Normally, it is the color green that I always run out of, for most of my pieces are those of Mother Earth. Even from before, I am fascinated and a lover of nature. One of the ways of expressing my appreciation for environment, particularly to this Philippine wonder is by giving life and honor through a piece of paper. It has been a very significant subject for me in all of my crafts; school projects and different drawing contests I’ve joined that made me earn good grades and various poster making contest awards. It used to be just a very nice scenery for me that my hands can execute well through shapes and colors… but now, I consider it as one of the most beautiful creation in the world and one of the most majestic treasure of Philippines that we should take care and be proud of. Yes, I am talking about the 8th wonder of the world, the stairway to heaven, the ever beautiful and rich Hagdan-hagdan Palayan also known as The Banaue Rice Terraces.

Banaue Rice Terraces is a 2,000 year old heritage that can be found in the province of Ifugao. This green steps to  sky is 1500 meters or 5000 ft. above sea level and covers 10,360 square kilometers of the mountainside. This man-made structure was built largely by hands using primitive tools such as stones and woods. This connotes and describes how intelligent and creative our native Filipinos are. This also reveals our country’s contribution to agricultural technology. It is said that if every step of the rice terraces will be stretched from end to end, it will be enough to cover half of the globe.

For the longest time, the Ifugao people have been the caretakers of the Banaue Rice Terraces. In this place, everything revolves around rice and culture. There are times that they celebrate harvest and conduct a thanksgiving feast. During celebrations and feasts, it is common to see Bayah or Rice Beer and a lot of Rice Cakes and Betel Nuts on their tables and no one is allowed to do agricultural work on special occasions like this.

More than the visible magnificence, what makes Banaue Rice Terraces most admired is its purpose as a world wonder. This was built with no slavery but pure hard work and freewill of the Filipino indigenous people of Ifugao for livelihood and food sake. Before, Banaue Rice Terraces produce large supply of rice, being one of the basic food commodities in the county. The rich stairway rice field is truly spectacular, it brought large amount of tourism for the country. The best souvenir you can have is a photograph of the structure as well as to witness the native people who are living in the steps of the terraces performing their traditional and simple life. So don’t you ever visit the place without a camera, make sure also that it is fully charge for every corner of the place is certainly photo worthy!

A lot said that seeing the panoramic beauty of Banaue Rice Terraces could ease the boredom & exhaustion brought by longs travel time of getting there. It could give you a sense of pride as a Filipino for owning such a marvelous attraction. Also, a feeling of being so close to nature but more than that, the steps can also make you feel closer to God, and you just might find yourself praying for making it there.

If you are planning to visit Banaue Rice Terraces, from Manila there are several busses that offers a straight to Banaue trip. The trip takes around 9-12 hours. It will pass through the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya then Ifugao. For accommodation, there are several hotels in the town like Banaue View Inn, People’s Lodge, the Banaue Hotel on reasonable rates. Also, some private homes are accepting tourists and transients for a cheaper cost.


Image 1 – Photo Source Creative Commons

Image 2 & 3 – Photo Source Wikimedia Commons

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