The rice terraces of Ifugao were carved into the Cordillera Mountain Ranges of Northern Luzon during the time of Jesus Christ.
The mountains are home to various indigenous tribes which are collectively known as the Ingorot. Elevations exceed 7,000 feet in some places, but the rice terraces are found at 5,000 feet and below.
The most famous of all the rice terraces are in Banaue. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, parts of the terraces have been listed as “endangered” due to issues with pollution and other aspects of the modern world. The tribesmen have now assisted the Government in helping preserve the site for future generations to enjoy. Much of the rice terraces of Ifugao have now been taken off the ‘endangered’ list thanks to these efforts.
The terraces cover an extensive area, although the five most impressive clusters are: the Nagacadan Terraces in Kiangan; the spider-web Hungduan Terraces; the Mayoyao Terraces tended by villagers who live in traditional ‘bale’ houses, and the photogenic Bangaan and Batad Terraces.
The terraces are among the few features of the Philippines not influenced by colonialism and are the only pre-colonial structures in the Philippines made of stone.
While touring the Cordillera, find your way to the Bontoc Museum which houses numerous artifacts, images and rare antiquities from the region. Another interesting point is the caverns of Sumaging.
Getting to the terrace region take at least eight to 10 hours by bus from Manila. A good start point is to arrive in Baguio City and go from there. The city of Baguio has numerous places to visit and see and is well worth a visit.