It is a credit to the inherent wisdom of their forefathers that they instituted a forest management system - a very essential factor in preserving the terraces. Families are allocated small patches of forests which they carefully protect and manage for the provision of wood for fuel, housing and as a watershed from which come the much- needed water for irrigating the terraces.
There are 4 major rice terraces sites in Ifugao. They are similar yet distinct from one another such that the UNESCO has included all of them in the world heritage list, the first to be inscribed as a continuing living cultural landscape.
The most famous of all the sites, is a leading tourist destination. The artistic center of the Ifugao, it is a home to the Ifugao carvers (when Hapao used to be part of the municipality) whose marvellous creations are seen throughout the country. Also traded in the daily market different kinds of traditional fabric, like the woven bark cloth and dyed ikat cloth and the traditional jewelry, pfu-ong, representing good luck in hunting or the prosperity of children. These additional sources of income merely supplement what they earn from rice production of "tinawon" rice in red, black and white varieties.
Located in Banaue is home to the tiered, amphitheater-shaped terraces. A 12 kilometer ride from Banaue Hotel plus a 2 hour hike uphill through mountain trails brings you to a spectacular view of the terraces.
Lies right within the rice terraces some 44 kilometers from Banaue. Mount Mayoyao marks the border between the majestic Mayoyao Terraces and Banaue Terraces. The Ifugao Hananga and Ayyangan tribes dwell in this area. The mountainous setting makes it a perfect hideaway. In fact, it lies on Gen. Aguinaldo's escape route to the Sierra Madres during the Philippine revolution. At Harvest time in June and July, each house prepares rice wine to offer visitors and everyone rejoices in the bounty of the season. The organic Ifugao rice, Tinawon in red and white varieties is harvested in abundance.
Located in Hungduan is another important rice terraces site. It's stone-walled rice terraces date back to 650 AD. The ingenious terraces are protected by clean stone walls rising along the Hapao river and irrigated by winding stone canals. Built over time by pounding layers of stones and earth behind the stone wall or dikes, each layer was gradually covered with new and finer soil topped by cleat soil which allows water to fill each terrace with measured precision retaining 1 to 4 mm. of water throughout the year.
The ancient arts of carving and metal smiting are very much alive here. Near Hapao, smiths have been making the Ifugao bolo or machete since the 17th century. It is claimed that the fine Ifugao woodcarving tradition originated in this area.
Many armies from General Emilio Aguinaldo to General Tomoyuki Yamashita have found refuge in this mountainous area. The remains of General Artemio Ricarte, leader of the Revolution of 1896 were originally buried here. General Yamashita's final hideaway at the end of WW2 was MT. Napulawan and its many hidden valleys. Reputed to be the hiding place of General Yamashita's gold, this pristine forest has many trails and caverns waiting to be discovered.
Source: Courtesy of Dept of Tourism