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Continue efforts to preserve rice terraces, Ifugao solon urges

/ 01:18 PM June 28, 2012

A farmer (bottom L) plants rice in a paddy field in the scenic Banaue rice terraces in the northern mountainous Ifugao province on April 16, 2008 that provides local rice supplies to villagers. AFP/TAMMY DAVID

MANILA, Philippines—A lawmaker on Thursday urged the government to never let its guard down even as Cordillera’s world famous rice terraces have been removed from a UN list of endangered world heritage sites.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat said efforts have to continue to improve the condition of the terraces, which are located in five towns in the northern Cordilleras.

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“We must continue efforts to preserve it because the work never ends,” said Baguilat.

Baguilat said that problems causing the decay of the terraced paddy fields remained although the Ifugao people are now taking steps to improve the state of the rice terraces, pointing out “problems like poverty that leads to the abandonment of the terraces by Ifugaos who feel they need to go elsewhere to have a better life.”

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The 2,000-year-old living cultural monuments were named as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (Unesco) world heritage site in 1995, citing the need to preserve the traditions of terrace-building peoples in Ifugao province.

The terraces were put on the World Heritage Committee’s danger list in 2000 at the Philippine government’s request to rally local and international aid, and for better management of their preservation.

At the same time, Baguilat welcomed Unesco’s exclusion of the famous rice terraces from the list, adding it was up to the government and the Ifugao people to ensure that rehabilitation efforts continue.

He also lauded the Ifugaos’ efforts in restoring the rice terraces’ collapsed walls and in preserving their culture.

“This and assistance from national government like the Department of Agriculture and Malacañang which poured funds into repair of irrigation as well as voluntary efforts of Filipinos coming to Ifugao to do weekend restoration work helped convince the World Heritage Commission to remove the Ifugao Rice Terraces from endangered list,” he added.

Unesco said it had extended $153,200 to aid Philippine efforts to conserve paddies it said were threatened by deforestation, disuse, climate change and earthquakes. With Agence France-Presse

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TAGS: Agriculture, Banaue Rice Terraces, Conservation, Cordillera, Culture, Farming
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