Press Release
March 12, 2012

Legarda Stresses Right and Role of Ifugaos
in Preserving Rice Terraces and Rich Cultural Heritage

Expressing deep concern over the state of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, Senator Loren Legarda today stressed that the people of Ifugao must assert their right and use their cultural rootedness to preserve their rich heritage.

During her recent visit to the Province of Ifugao, Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, noticed not only the worsening state of the Ifugao Rice Terraces but also the opportunities to revive the Ifugao heritage.

"The Ifugao Rice Terraces symbolize harmony between man and nature. Sacred traditions, such as the rituals in time for harvest, and cultural practices had been passed on from one generation to another. However, I am concerned that we are not only seeing the deterioration of the rice terraces but also the Ifugaos' tangible and intangible culture at threat" she stressed.

The Senator explained that when she visited the village in Bangaan in the municipality of Banaue, she was disheartened that she saw not the traditional Ifugao village that she had in mind and what the Bangaan Rice Terraces cluster is supposedly known for.

While the village still had the traditional houses, which are made of wood with cogon grass as roof and built in a way that no nails or bolts are needed, modern-day houses were already constructed in the area, thereby losing the aesthetic value that the village ought to have as a background of the rice terraces.

Legarda also said that the intangible culture of the Ifugaos, the rituals, epics, and chants, especially the Hudhud Chants of the Ifugao, which the UNESCO inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008, must continue to flourish not only by passing on from parents to children, but also by ensuring that these are included in the school curriculum.

Moreover, Legarda emphasized that "with weaving, wood carving, eco-tourism and cultural tourism, the municipality of Banaue and the whole province of Ifugao can achieve further economic growth and development while, at the same time, they are also able to preserve their heritage and protect the environment."

"Ifugao is a culturally-rich province and our forefathers have made a great treasure in the form of the Ifugao Rice Terraces. I urge the government to give utmost attention and encourage everyone to take part in the effort to restore the magnificence of the Rice Terraces and help preserve the Ifugao culture. But at the forefront of this grand effort must be no less than the very people of Ifugao--particularly those in the municipalities of Kiangan, Hungduan, Mayoyao, and Banaue--the homes of the five rice terrace clusters (Nagacadan, Hungduan, Mayoyao, Batad, and Bangaan clusters) inscribed in the World Heritage List," Legarda concluded.

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