Category: Ifugao.

Unesco donates P2.3M for repair of Ifugao terraces

LAGAWE, IFUGAO—The destructive effects of climate change have taken its toll on the Ifugao rice terraces, prompting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to pour in funds for its rehabilitation, Gov. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. said.

Strong typhoons that hit northern Luzon in October damaged and eroded many centuries-old rice terraces in at least four towns, he said.

Unpredictable

“In previous years, our ancestors could predict when the rains would come and considered it a blessing. But now, because of climate change, rains have become destructive, even damaging our rice terraces,” Baguilat said during a forum here recently.

He said the $50,000 (P2.3 million) assistance from Unesco will be used to repair rice terraces in the towns of Banaue, Mayoyao, Hungduan and Kiangan. The rehabilitation involves the repair of terrace walls.

Local work

Baguilat said the provincial government would encourage local farmers to help as laborers since the rice terraces are private pieces of property passed on by their ancestors.

He said the damage left by typhoons to the rice terraces also reduced the quantity of rice harvested in the province, especially now that Ifugao is starting to export its tinawon, a native rice variety that is harvested only once a year.

“While we cannot ascertain yet, definitely it will affect our production. In fact, we are asking the Department of Agriculture to repair our irrigation [system]. This is the first time that the National Irrigation Administration is assisting us because of the destruction [brought about by the recent typhoons],” Baguilat said.

Endangered heritage

Unesco, in 1995, included the Ifugao rice terraces in its list of World Heritage Sites. But due to the deterioration of its condition, the agency included the rice terraces in its list of “world heritage in danger” in 2001.

“The Ifugao rice terraces epitomize the absolute blending of the physical, sociocultural, economic, religious and political environment. Indeed, it is a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty,” Unesco said in its website (http://whc.unesco.org).

“Built 2,000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation, the Ifugao rice terraces represent an enduring illustration of an ancient civilization that surpassed various challenges and setbacks posed by modernization,” it said.

Italian help

The province, Baguilat said, is also expecting financial assistance from the Italian government since the province’s calamity fund has been depleted as the recent typhoons induced landslides and displaced residents.

He said the provincial government is preparing a comprehensive typhoon damage report to identify the areas needing assistance most.
But Baguilat said initial assessment of typhoon damage showed that Hungduan and Banaue were the hardest-hit towns in the province. Ben Moses Ebreo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Category: Ifugao
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