Monday, July 23, 2012

Terraced Masterpiece

Rice Terraces

The rice terraces look majestic but there is more to it than meets the eye. The concept of the terraces is simple enough: In order to grow, rice needs water, which the mountain slopes can not hold. But what was borne out of necessity has become something else - a terraced masterpiece, a baffling transformation, a phenomenal sight worthy of UNESCO’s world heritage list. Due to its sheer size, the rice terraces flood your vision. But it is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the other senses. The vast space, the absolute quiet, and the wind softly brushing your skin almost bring you back to the dawn of civilization when our ancestors were carving those mountains. Come. Be there. Be awed. And let your spirit be lifted up the heavens.

There are as many rice terraces as there are little villages in the canyons of Ifugao. The world famous Banaue Rice Terraces is just one amongst many. It offers a stunning panorama you can view from a platform on a bluff surrounded by shops selling souvenirs. But the best way to go is visit Batad, one of the more famous and photogenic rice-terraces-villages. From the bus station, a tricycle will bring you in an hour on its foot. From there, a good one and a half hour trek on backcountry trail will bring you to Batad’s view deck, making those postcards come alive, and your adrenaline pumping for more. When we came, a shaft of light fell directly on one of the terraces squeezed beneath two slopes. It was long and narrow, and creeping up towards the mist and low clouds. It was mesmerizing, surreal, literally, a stairway to heaven.

The massive 10-foot rock walls that hold the rice terraces together is the heart of the matter. No special mortar was used, just plain rocks, mud and hay, but strong enough to survive generations. Water from springs on mountaintops is channeled through irrigation canals beside slope fissures which are then brought to individual paddies by hollowed out bamboo poles - What struck me the most is its simplicity in such a grand setting, and the fact that it hasn’t changed for thousands of years.

The 8th wonder experience has brought a fresh perspective of who I am. I suddenly became proud of my heritage, of who we are as a people, and of what we have contributed to the world. It is time to pay homage to what our ancestors have ingeniously created and which has given them immortality. I did already....

guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru guru

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