Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why we need to save the Ifugao rice terraces

For 2,000 years, the Ifugao rice terraces have helped to shape the culture, identity, and livelihood not only of our brothers and sisters in the Cordilleras, but also of the Filipino people. They have become symbols of our ingenuity and vision, our rootedness in nature, and the value of community, among others. We cannot allow the rice terraces, as well as these values, to be eroded over time. These help define our being Filipino.

According to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites page on the rice terraces:

"The Ifugao Rice Terraces epitomize the absolute blending of the physical, socio-cultural, economic, religious, and political environment. Indeed, it is a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.

"The Ifugao Rice Terraces are the priceless contribution of Philippine ancestors to humanity. Built 2000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation, the Ifugao Rice Terraces represent an enduring illustration of an ancient civilization that surpassed various challenges and setbacks posed by modernization."

The rest of the world has recognized our very own rice terraces, yet we have contributed largely to its destruction. In 2001, the Ifugao rice terraces were placed in the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger list.

The continuous deterioration of the terraces, as well as recent damage wrought by Typhoons Pedring and Quiel, have brought the total amount of destruction to over P122 billion. Aside from this, our Ifugao farmers are losing a large part of their livelihood and culture.

Here are some photos of the rice terraces' destruction:

We cannot kill the Ifugao farmers’ source of life, culture, and pride. We must do whatever we can to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the rice terraces and make a sustainable living out of them. We owe it not only to them or to ourselves, but to our ancestors who have entrusted the rice terraces to us over the last 2,000 years.

Together with Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat and other stakeholders, we are embarking on a fund-raising campaign to help save the Ifugao rice terraces. We need all the help we can get, and we encourage you to get in touch with us to get involved.

Please visit our Facebook page, "Save the Ifugao Rice Terraces campaign", as well as @SaveIRT on Twitter. You may also email savericeterraces@gmail.com to be part of this initiative.

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