This 2000-year old rice fields carved in the Cordillera Mountains are indeed a sight to behold. Hailed by the Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Banaue Rice Terraces is the product of hard work of generations of Ifugao tribes, using only minimal equipment in planting rice and vegetables on slopes of land. This made the terraces an engineering marvel by itself. Farming techniques are passed from generation to generation, maintaining the skills needed to maintain the condition of the terraces.
The Banaue Rice Terraces are approximately 5000 feet high and cover more than 10,000 square kilometers of mountainside. It was said that if you put the steps of the terraces are put end to end, the length is enough to encircle half the globe.
The Ifugas built the elevated rice fields by using an elaborate farming system that carves the natural surface of the hills and an intricate irrigation system that involved harvesting water from the mountain tops or forests. Building the terraces requires the cooperation of the whole community of Ifugaos. This makes the terraces more than the result of ingenious farming techniques; it also shows that the terraces are a product of cultural tradition that binds the Ifugao people. They still use the same techniques that have been in existence 2000 years ago, and they are still teaching the same skills to younger generations of their people.
The beauty of the terraces has made them a popular tourist destination, which generates a major contribution to the provincial income.
The Banaue Rice Terraces was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The Philippine government is recently making efforts to protect the terraces against the damages of soil erosion.
You can get to the Banaue Rice Terraces by riding a bus which will lead you straight to Banaue. From Manila, the trip will take approximately nine hours. Daily trips are available at bus terminals, usually from 10PM to 7 AM.