Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

A Living Cultural Landscape on Borrowed Time

“The farming calendar provides the warp or the structure of the year, while ceremonies, beliefs, and customs provide the weft, building up the patterns of the brightly colored cloth that is life in South-East Asia”

The Asian Rice Culture
Rice has been grown in Asia for about 7,000 years Rice is central to the Asian diet Rice goes beyond diet, it is the unifying factor in the diverse Asian cultures Rice planting and harvesting inspires rituals, festivals

The Landscape of Rice
Rice germinates in flat, flooded paddies Paddied landscape found all over Asia Rice landscape pattern unifies Asia Rice landscape unchanged for centuries Rice landscape result of
agriculture, environment, and cultural practices sustained traditional site management traditional practices continue to this day

An Asian Icon:

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras:
Continuing Cultural Landscape Inscribed on World Heritage List, 1995 “Organically evolved, continuing cultural landscape” Terraces have been in constant use for over 1,000 years

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras:

proves the length the Asian will go to grow rice

700 – 1500 meters above sea level Covers 20,000 sq km area within the Cordillera Mountain Range Slopes to a maximum of 70º
Maximum slope for Bali terraces 40º

Cordillera Rice
Site conditions demanding High-altitude rice strain
Germinates in near-freezing temperatures in flooded paddies Grows chesthigh unlike lowland rice Nonshattering panicles

Manual labor only Slope too steep for farm animals or machinery

Lifeline of the terraces Traditional irrigation system
streams diverted to small dams water distribution through mud and bamboo irrigation system

Unobstructed downhill flow through all terraces

Traditional Hydraulics
Hydraulic power builds terraces Hydraulic power moves rocks and other large natural objects

Water-gathering system
Terraces on eastern slopes for maximum sunlight Private forests ring tops of each terrace cluster Water cycle management

Nature-Culture Continuum
Hud-hud: harvest chant by women
“Ten Most Valuable Intangible Heritage of the World” UNESCO, 2001

Rituals: planting, growing, harvest Religious beliefs: center on rice

Traditional Architecture
South-East Asian archetype
single room dwelling raised on wooden stilts steep thatched roof

Built with natural materials gathered from surrounding areas Clustered in small villages around open area Private and ceremonial granaries Architectural forms echo mountain environment

Living on borrowed time
Agricultural traditions threatened
decay of irrigation incompatible modern materials and techniques

Environmental traditions threatened

Construction traditions threatened
Loss of natural building materials Loss of construction skills

Living on borrowed time
Cultural traditions threatened
Intrusion of lowland culture Erosion of religious beliefs

Living on borrowed time
Poverty Decrease in population Migration of young to urban areas Is the Ifugao culture still valid for 2004?
Can culture withstand threats of modernization Should culture be frozen simply to maintain the site?

Preservation efforts
No national awareness of nature-culture continuum National policies for site not based on local culture

World Heritage in Danger, 2000
Maintenance program previously on national level Maintenance now in hands of local stakeholders Holistic revival program
agricultural environmental Cultural

Pride of Place

Stakeholders are finding the answers

Concept of custodianship Upgrade quality of life Claim ownership of site

Salamat Thank You