The Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces of the Philippines

In Luzon Province of the Northern Philippines, through mountains and rice terraces, the road ends at a church, in a small town called Banaue. 4,000 feet above sea level in Banaue sits a small market village in Ifugao province. Located north of Manila in the Philippines, Ifugao province is famous for the handiwork of its people, who increased cultivable lands by carving gigantic rice terraces from the sides of mountains. For over 2,000 years, the people of Batad have built these terraces, one stone at a time. This growing, living stairway stretches far beyond what the eye can see. Taking an estimated 2,000 years to build, the still-productive rice terraces rise from the valley floor to heights of up to 3,000 feet, a feat of engineering so substantial that some call them the eighth wonder of the world. The only man made wonder which was literally sculpted from the earth. A scarcity of water has led to some rice patties drying up.

With no electricity or road, the people of Batad live their lives as they have for thousands of years, with a deep, close connection to the earth. They worship ancestral spirits, sacrificing three chickens or one pig to appease an angry spirit. When a person dies, the body is hung from the thatched roof of their hut for three days as a sign to the villagers that the person has moved on to a better place. Afterwards, the bones of a deceased family member are collected and placed ceremoniously inside the roof of the family's dwelling, to give comfort and protection to the living.