January 28, 2012

Road to save terraces leads to Ifugao homes

(Repost from  except image) 28th January 2012

Batad restoration efforts
BAGUIO CITY—Residents of the village of Batad in Banaue, Ifugao, will open their doors on Feb. 3 to tourists, as well as the country’s top businessmen, who have been invited to help rebuild centuries-old rice terraces that collapsed due to strong monsoon rains.
Batad is home to the amphitheater-like terraces which have been enshrined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), together with the terraces in Kiangan, Hungduan and Mayoyao towns, as World Heritage Sites. Sections of these terraces are scarred by erosion.

Batad’s guests would be responding to the call for “bachang” (or baddang), the term for an act of kindness or assistance that does not require any form of reciprocation. It is equivalent to the “bayanihan” (community cooperation) practiced in other areas in the country.
Reports from the provincial government said tourists and sponsors, in a gathering, would commit their support and resources “toward the restoration of the terraces and the traditions that have kept Ifugaos as a unique people.”
Among the expected guests to the bachang are officials from Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp., the SM Group of Companies and Canon Philippines. Also expected are Miss Earth titlists, who will be asked to join dances, indigenous games and feasts that Batad has prepared for its guests.
Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the participants would be ushered out in teams toward portions of the Batad terraces to help with the manual clean-up.
Ifugao farmers are rushing to repair their terraces, hoping to participate in the planting cycle of February and March.
Gov. Eugene Balitang said: “The restoration of the Ifugao rice terraces is not only dependent on the physical restoration of the landscape, but also [on] the revival of age-old customs and traditions, which glued the terraces [to these mountains] for generations.”
“That is why we need to revive the spirit of bayanihan or bachang. This year the main thrust of the provincial government is to unleash the agrotourism potential of [Ifugao],” Balitang said.
The bachang will start with a two-day photo safari on Feb. 1 to 2, for 120 photographers who will document the best Ifugao terrace landscapes.
On Feb. 4-5, Canon Philippines will conduct PhotoEskwela, a photography workshop at the Immaculate Conception School in Banaue. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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