Luzon Island is home to Banaue, which has become synonymous with the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ifugao Rice Terraces. The five clusters that form the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras were given World Heritage status in 1995 – the first to be included in UNESCO’s cultural landscape category – include Batad, Bangaan, Hungduan, Mayoyao Central, and Nagacadan in Ifugao province.
Constructed over 2000 years ago, what makes Ifugao’s rice terraces special is their location at a higher altitude and on steeper hills than most and their technical perfection – how carefully they appear to have been carved into the natural mountain contours, their complex of stone and mud walls, and their elaborate irrigation systems. But what’s of most value is the continuity and endurance of cultural traditions that have remained virtually unchanged for 2000 years, local communities handing down traditions from generation to generation. Taking a cooperative approach, the communities of farmers work together, following lunar cycles and incorporating spiritual rituals to plant and harvest rice. Banaue’s emerald green terraces are arguably the most beautiful.