Lack of water, deterioration hound Ifugao terraces

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BANAUE, Ifugao  – The inadequate water supply coupled with the deterioration of the man-made structures are the primary concerns of the municipal government and rice terraces owners in sustaining the beauty and scenery of the Ifugao rice terraces that contributed to its being named as the Eighth Wonder of the World, a local chief executive said here.

Mayor Jerry Dalipog said out of the 1,607 hectares of rice terraces in the town, 332 hectares have been considered to be damaged after they were abandoned by the owners in exchange for greener pasture in urban centers in the region.

“We need financial and technical assistance from concerned government agencies in order for us to be able to sustain our efforts to preserve and protect the increasing areas of the deteriorating rice terraces in order to regain the title of the rice terraces as the Eighth Wonder of the World,” Dalipog stressed.

He said the existence of the man-made rice terraces which were carved from the mountain slopes showcases the ingenuity of the Ifugaos who were able to establish their respective masterpieces on the mountain slopes over 2,000 years ago.

In the local scene, Mayor Dalipog said the municipal government was able to implement their program called ‘chawa,’ a local term for sharing wherein the local government will shoulder the rehabilitation of the damaged rice terraces before it will be returned to the owner for tilling.

In order to pay the investment of the local government in the rehabilitation of their damaged rice terraces, the owners will give to the municipal government 50 percent of their harvest for every cropping season until such time that the value of the palay shall have fully compensated the investment of the government.

According to Mayor Dalipog, the municipal government has been allocating P1 million from its 20 percent local development plan in order to sustain the rehabilitation of rice terraces that were previously damaged and to allow the owners to have a consistent source of income for their livelihood.

The local chief executive explained the palay that they are receiving as payments from the tillers of the rice terraces are subsequently milled. Some of the rice are sold to visitors while some of their rice supply is used to feed their regular visitors from other places wanting to have a taste of their famous native rice, ‘tinawon.’

Dalipog cited it is important for concerned agencies and the local government to harmonize their rice terraces preservation and protection programs in order to prevent the rapid deterioration of the rice terraces which are serving as the major tourist attractions in the different parts of the province, thus, there is now an urgent need for stakeholders to cooperate with the interventions to be implemented for the sustained existence of the rice terraces.

Dalipog cited the continuous efforts to revitalize the terraces in order to sustain the influx of foreign and domestic tourists considering the emerging places of destination that would surely get a lion’s share from the tourist arrivals of the province in the future.

“We have to sustain the influx of visitors even with the emergence of new places of destination because tourism is the major driver of our economy throughout the years and even in the coming generations,” Mayor Dalipog added.  By Dexter A. See

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