Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evolution in the Banaue Rice Terraces

Donna of Garden Walk Garden Talk has titillated our minds for some calisthenics. I have joined starting from Illumination, then Repose, and now Evolution. Every time I decide to join, I always start with nothing, nothing in mind, then when a photo from a file come in, a lot of photos follow. I would say Donna is very successful in bringing us to this, because in my case even if the post is already linked in, I still find some photos that i still want to add. Sometimes i even want to tell Donna to repeat the word. But of course that is already boring for most. Suffice it to say that the words organized some photos in my mind to find some new meanings in them. I look at my photos with more enthusiasm, more utility.

Evolution - somehow the vision of an ape always comes to my mind's eye. Then i wish it will not be mistaken to equate evolution with growth and development. So how will i try to interpret it. Or maybe a Before and After will do! Is that evolution enough? Oh no that can't be. Evolution has always been associated with the change in species over time, with the previous species becoming extinct. Evolution is synonymous with change in a long time, mutation, advancement in change....and who will forget Darwin! Survival of the fittest helps evolution! What else, what will I post? This looks more difficult than Illumination or Repose!

This post is about the Evolution of Use!

This is the Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province, Philippines. This 2000 years old structure is a part of the country's National Cultural Treasure.  It is approximately 1500 meters (5000ft) above sea level covering about 10,360 sq km (about 4000 sq miles) of mountainside. An ancient irrigation system from the rainforests provide water to the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end, it would encircle half the globe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banaue_Rice_Terraces). The other Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are Batad, Bangaan, Hungduan, Mayoyao Central and Nagacadan. 

Stairs are the model of the rice terraces, above is the modern cemented stairs. It is at the bottom right portion in the first photo as an access point to the already modern house near the terraces (with red roof). A stair is a very old concept, yet its uses and functions evolved with the above two photos.
The photo above is the traditional structure of the Ifugao indigenous peoples' house, called an "ulug". It is made of materials found in the mountains, normally very low with the roof reaching the bottom to probably conserve the heat. Subtropical conditions prevail in these areas.

A variant of the previous Ifugao house is shown above with the roof a bit receding to expose the house body. Thick timber are used both as posts and walls. The only opening is the door, it is a windowless house! The access bamboo stairs is removed at night and hung inside for safety.

The more modern 'ulug' has shorter posts, wooden and wider stairs, with cemented portion as toilet and bath, and a ledge was provided on the wall side serving as storage areas. Hot water is also available direct from the tap faucet.

The 'ulug' now evolved as the main feature and accommodation facilities in Resorts and vacation areas, just like in the Banaue Ethnic Village. The resort also provide ethnic dance presentations and traditional food preparation and cooking, if the guests desire.

An outhouse wash basin (bottom photo) is provided for easy access and function.

I just tried to show you the evolution of the Ifugao indigenous people's houses, in terms of structure and use. The modern Ifugao people do not build these structures anymore, but still use them for storage purposes. 

In our recent Backpack Photography  trip to the area, we were so thrilled to sleep in these houses, savoring the cold temperatures in the highlands, at that time was 6C at night and 15C at daytime. We were also very privileged to be inside the forest deep in the mountains, with very clean unpolluted air, fresh from the oxygen generators; and the only noise we hear are our laughter mingling with the birds tweets. It was really "far from the madding crowd". 



  1. Andrea, You surprised me! Just a short while, I heard a cry for help. :)

    This is a great evolution post. Those huts look very interesting. I can smell the fresh air you are talking about...it's been raining...

    I'm quite sure it felt good to stretch the brain and also to finally get to share these hidden beautiful photos.

  2. Yes One, this Evolution thing make my mind really swirl for a while. The ape is always facing head-on as if saying I am the actor here! And evolution of other species always enter my mind, but how can i get a picture of something already extinct! I have contemplated for awhile to post a photo of Charles Darwin, but thrashed the idea too. Then suddenly, i made a twist, actually just today after writing you. Then i settled on the twisted idea of Evolution of Use, both the hut and the stairs had evolved in function. I wish i am like Donna who writes very well. I should have given my idea more justice!

  3. I'm fascinated by the 'ulugs'. It looks like such a fun home to stay in!
    And the rice terraces ... wow! Great pictures. Loved them all :)

  4. Andrea, you gave your idea a lot of thought and twisted the topic perfectly. I too found it a hard word to illustrate. I waited all the way until yesterday to make my post, knowing it would be hard to have any originality on my part. But so far, I have seen that from others in how to have a topic 'evolve'. Loved those huts. I am glad you did it from an architecture perspective.

  5. This sounds like a great hike.....and I would have loved to sleep in one of these places. The hikes look rather steep in some spots. It's interesting the terrace areas. They remind me of several hills in Cape Verde that utilized this technique widespread across the islands. Very little rain falls down on these islands so capturing every little drop by the farmers is important.

  6. How wonderful to be able to stay there and experience that firsthand. Great pictures. Love your take on 'evolution'.

  7. Andrea a wonderful post about evolution. You certainly captured the essence of the word through the illustration of the huts over time and their use...love the topic...

  8. Great post my friend! Now, you have given me some idea what to post for evolution. Growing rice on hill slopes is not popular in Malaysia. We grow rice on flat land. Beautiful sceneries with a connection to ancient times.

  9. That was fascinating. You remind that I used to first expect a blog to open a window on a different world - and so you did for me today!

  10. The rice terraces look amazingly beautiful and that's the most amazing hut i've ever seen. your photos are beautifully presented and really inviting.

  11. Andrea,
    About a year ago Meg and I were looking at all types of rice terraces on the web to see how they were built. Did you take any close up photos of the terraces? You asked on my blog about the swan gourds, they are for decoration we don't eat them. You let them dry out and you paint them, they last many years.

  12. Wow Andrea this is a beautiful place! Love how the terraces look from that angle in the first photo. Incredible view!! Good stairs and houses built by the people - great and robust.

  13. What a beautiful post and country. Wonderful photo's

  14. Hi,
    Oh how I enjoyed seeing these pictures of your country. Love the houses. I too would love to sleep in one high up in the mountains. What a wonderful experience for you! I loved learning about them. Thanks so much! Loved your sweet comment on my blog. Yes, I do live VERY far away from the Phillipines. Must be because I was born here. lol! Would love to visit your country someday! Now following you.

  15. Interesting post!

    Thanks so much for stopping by the Back Porch. The castle was constructed at around 1900 of Missouri Limestone. The owner died in a car accident before it was completed. This was one of the first automobile accidents, since there were very few cars, at the time. His sons completed the construction.

    Around 1940/1942, the castle, a gate house and carriage house were destroyed by fire. A little over 30years ago, Missouri acquired the castle, other ruins and grounds for use as a state park.

    The castle looks exactly as it did when I was a child, growing up, during the late 40's early 50's. The stone has never been cleaned that I know of. There are plants growing on the floor of the interior of the castle. If you click the link in the post, there is more information.

    Railings were added, by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, for safety, when it was designated a state park. There are many loose stones inside the structure. I don't know why it would not have moss growing.

    I only showed a few sections of the castle.

    It is, indeed, over 100 years old and was the dream home of the man who built it.

    Not originally built as a tourist attraction, but authentic ruins of a home. The castle is actually older than the lake.

  16. Love the photos of the huts, wonderful!! Laura Cottage and Broome

  17. Most fascinating post, Andrea. Those rice terraces are beautiful. And to have all that irrigated by the water of the rain forests! Even the cottages are lovely. That must have been a memorable trip to the highlands!

  18. Beautiful shots!
    Thanks for your visit and comment on my blog :-)

  19. Banaue Rice terraces is a VERY special place, spectacular! We visited in 2006 and thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that we wouldn't hesitate to go back again next time we're there :)

  20. Wow thanks for sharing those amazing photos. The terraces are breath-taking, I cant imagine climbing all those stairs and I am so jealous of you staying in those houses.

  21. What a wonderful post. I had no idea there was terracing in the Philippines. Thank you for the adventure.

  22. Sunita - yes the ulug are great to stay for the experience. And our coordinator put me kindly in the ulug with hot water in the T&B!

    Donna - i hope you are happy with the turnout of the linkers in W4W, and i am sure you are smiling in giving us a little hard time. You are the only meme which is giving me that difficulty with time for preparation, as i normally post extemporaneously. haha!

    Rohrerbot - the hike here is not as difficult and far compared to other terraces areas, and definitely chicken compared to your Machu Pichu hike for 4 days! I read that and made me so very envious.

    HolleyGarden - thank you for appreciating my take on evolution. I had a difficult time actually, LOL.

    Donna - thank you too for your appreciation. It certainly is not easy. As One said above i cried for help from her.

    Autumn Belle - I like it when you like my post. And your slant in your post is very thought provoking and deep too. Donna made us all think.

  23. Elephant's Eye - i am glad i gave your expectation, showing another world, which is also another world for us even here!

    Life Ramblings - maybe the huts look neat and lovely because they are already replicas of the real ones, besides they are made for tourists.

    Randy Emitt - I already replied to your blog about my close-up photos. They just used the local clay soil to build those terraces. Tha's why just recently they were invaded by big earthworms and become big problems.

    Stephanie - I know there are terraces like these too in Indonesia.

    Riet - thanks for dropping by, i hope you come again soonest.

    JBar - i smiled with your comment, as it seems it is your favorite phrase, LOL.

    Jann Olson - I've been near you when i went to Sweden where i started in Malmo to Lund, to Stockholm to Uppsala. That is the farthest I've been in those lands.

  24. Pat@Backporch Musings - thank you so much for the long description of your castle, it certainly is very informative. Still the absence of moss amazed me! Maybe the materials they used really elude water, great concoction during those times.

    Cotage and Broome - I appreciate your comment and visit, hope you drop by again soon.

    Kanak - it is really wonderful staying in the cold highlands, in contrast to our blazing temperatures here. It took us 9 hours by bus to reach this place.

    Inger-M - please visit again here soon! I appreciate it.

    Mark and Gaz - i always wonder who between you is putting the comment, as you made it appear you are one! I am glad you also enjoyed your visit to Banaue, you should have stayed in the resort we did, it certainly is better than the rest there.

    Patient Gardener - i actually had a hard time with my big bag in carrying it through downhill and uphill again.

    Tufa Girl - this terraces is actually not the highest and biggest, the one in Battad is more beautiful, but the hike is more difficult too.

  25. Andrea
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey.
    The images are captivating, though I hate to say exotic because it can bring with it the wrong meaning entirely.
    I hope to have an opportunity to travel to the Philippines, and experience a culture so unknown to me.
    Right now I'm also filled with images of the country since hearing Patrick Blanc talk about the begonia he 'discovered' .. I can imagine the feel of the moist air and the scents, and flavors of the food.
    If only for a while before falling asleep!

  26. This was so interesting...I enjoyed learning. Sometimes it amazes me how inventive people were before we had all this technology.

  27. Fantastic evolution post! Makes me want to go back to Banaue, this time with the kids.

  28. Andrea - Enjoyed your interpretation of "evolution". We have cottages with thatched rooves in the UK but there are no thatched cottages on stilts.

  29. What a beautiful location. It looks so peaceful and restful. I wish we were so adept at constructing terraces. Our step slopes would be so much more useful if we were. The huts are enchanting, and I love their thatched roof tops. It sounds like a truly unique experience to be able to stay in one too!

  30. someday i'd like to see this gem with my own eyes. lucky you.

  31. Very clever. I love how you used the architecture of the ulugs to demonstrate evolution. The second ulug looks charming...I can imagine your group sleeping there enjoying the quiet and tweets of the birds. Very, very clever post!

  32. I love your post on evolution. It is so fascinating to see how things in different cultures evolve! The rice terraces are beautiful - they remind me a lot of the terraces that they grow tea on in India.

  33. Those terraces are a magnificent sight, in a magnificent setting.

  34. Hi Andrea, I am sorry to be so slow to return your visit. It has been a busy week. I thoroughly enjoyed your post on evolution. I have never been to this part of the world and so it is fascinating to discover it in your post. The image of the terraced rice fields is so beautiful! The history of the ulugs was very interesting. It must have been quite the experience to stay overnight in one.


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