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Monday, May 20, 2019
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Hidalgo: Banaue rice terraces funded rehab plan

Citizen Fe

THIS commendable plan is aimed at longer food security and preservation of a unique tradition.

Our country is a group of islands dotting the Pacific Ocean. It is not continental like most parts of the western world. An island has its sloping lands which if not held by the rice terraces will lose its land area to natural erosion of the loose soil.

The latest initiative to sustain the Cordillera Banaue Rice Terraces was developed by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) to tap indigenous knowledge systems and practices to achieve food security for upland communities by 2030.

This was revealed by Sem Cordial, director of the NAPC policy and planning service.

The new plan was presented to local governments, agencies, and scholars.

The five-year plan seeks the creation of a Cordillera Terraces body to oversee the development plan. The draft plan said it could increase rice production by 10 percent and reduce production cost by 10 percent in 2023. Since rice farming is heavily on irrigation, the plan also aims to increase the region's forest cover by 10 percent. The success of the plan will depend on the priotization of giving funds either to build infrastructures or give this offered plan for the Rice Terraces Rehab.

Having taught Earth Science in my Science Classes in St. Louis University in Baguio, I had the chance to bring my classes in a field trip to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces. It is dubbed as the eighth wonder of the World. It has its unique, beautiful, and breath-taking view. The 2,000-year-old terraces were carved by indigenous Filipino's ancestors. The terraces are 1,500 meters above sea level and has an ancient but efficient irrigation system.

The terraces are hand-hewn and had been in existence for about 2,000 years without losing its importance to the Ifugao people. They cover 10,360 kilometers of the mountainous parts of the region. The rain forests above the region are the sources of water needed to feed the irrigation channels. The water is trapped and used for the terraces. It is a tourist destination and can be reached after a 10-hour ride from Manila.

I built my house on a promontory at the end of Camp 7 of Kennon zigzag road. I needed to wall in my sloping back yard to prevent erosion of the soil. I hired workers to build my terraces wall to check the erosion. I observe them making the terrace. With bare hands, no modern measuring instruments, they classify the rocks from largest to smallest. With just a hammer or sharp instrument, they hewn the rocks from the biggest boulder to the smallest. Of course this is the hand tool just calculating so the wall will be strong and steady. They sharpen edges to fit the rocks like a jigsaw puzzle. No cementing just attachment to fit in all hewn rocks. This ends with the soil at the topmost part of the wall. Tubes are inserted in strategic places where the water can be siphoned to the ground level. Now you know the native principle of strength from the bottom up to the ground level. They called this construction as "Cavite."


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