Senate moves to save Ifugao rice terraces from further degradation

December 6, 2011

Jelly Musico
Zambo Times
December 6, 2011

MANILA — The Senate adopted on Tuesday a resolution urging the government agencies concerned to work collaboratively to save the famous rice terraces in Ifugao province from further degradation.

Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, author of the Senate Resolution No. 650, has asked the government to allocate P100 million for the complete rehabilitation of the national cultural treasures better known as “Banaue Rice Terraces.”

”The government should encourage Filipinos, particularly the youth, to participate in efforts to save the rice terraces and to promote appreciation of the culture of the indigenous people,” Pangilinan said.

”Considering the vulnerability of the rice terraces to damage caused by environmental factors, the government should support efforts to preserve the rice terraces and save them from further degradation. Government agencies should work together to rebuild the damaged rice terrace walls caused by the typhoons,” he added.

A total of 12 senators signed the resolution in support of Pangilinan’s call to rehabilitate and preserve the rice terraces built by the ancestors of the indigenous people.

”I personally expressed my full support in our effort to rehabilitate the rice terraces,” Senator Loren Legarda said even as she sought for the removal of the illegal settlers in the area.

As chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, Pangilinan said he has already coordinated with Department of Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala to come out with a program that would sustain the rehabilitation of the rice terraces.

Pangilinan expressed also his concern over the diminished interest among the indigenous people to continue the traditional methods of farming “because it is not enough to meet the daily demand in terms of income.”

”It is important that to have a program to make sure that the money to be allotted will be spent wisely to encourage the people in the area to go back to the traditional methods of farming,” Pangilinan said.

The Banaue Rice Terraces, carved into the mountains by the Ifugao people some 2,000 years ago, are still considered national cultural treasures that present a panorama of the rich history and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras.

The rice terraces were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995 in recognition of the living cultural heritage of the indigenous people, who during ancient times used primitive tools and bare hands to laboriously sculpt the slopes of the mountain.

The rice terraces are irrigated by an ancient irrigation system where rainforests at the top of the mountain keep the terraces wet.

Pangilinan said factors such as environmental and social interventions have made the rice terraces prone to degradation.

”The recent typhoons Pedring and Quiel have caused damage to the rice terraces after a total of 102,663 cubic meters of the area has been destroyed, affecting 13 barangays and 2,000 farmers, and estimating over P 122.65 million damage to agriculture,” Pangilinan said. (PNA)


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