Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Realistic actions to save rice terraces awaited

By Jane Cadalig
SunStar (12/11/07)

BANAUE, Ifugao - Several talks have been done to preserve the rice terraces here but the Provincial Government wants a concrete response and action from international civic groups to help the government improve and succeed on its preservation efforts.

"We have been discussing a lot regarding the preservation of our terraces; the Provincial Government and our local partners have already done our part. What we are now awaiting is the response of the international civic society on these efforts we have been doing," Governor Teodoro Baguilat said.

Admitting the local government has been experiencing pressures from the international community on the deteriorating status of the world-famous terraces, Baguilat said the province and its people could "only do as much".

Addressing a group of international heritage conservation experts and professionals who converged at the Banaue Hotel for a conference on the preservation of traditional landscapes, Baguilat cited the need to come up with concrete actions on how to safeguard the terraces.

He expressed optimism that the holding of the international conference in the province, which allowed architects, urban planers and heritage conservation professionals from other countries to have a glimpse of the terraces and the local initiatives done for their preservation, would convince global donors to invest in these preservation plans.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces have been inscribed in the Unesco's list of world heritage sites in 1995 but was declared as one of the endangered world heritages in 2001 due its deteriorating state.

"The terraces are not totally hopeless, there are still a lot of opportunities by which we could save them, and we believe we already have done our part to satisfy donors to assist us in our initiatives," he told Sun.Star.

Baguilat said he is planning to invite international donors to convene in the province and present the preservation programs being done for the terraces in a bid to convince global donors to invest in these programs.

Meantime, Architect Augusto Villalon of the International Committee on Monuments and Sites (Icomos)-Philippines said works being done to preserve cultural heritage sites in the country is seeing a bright future as more communities are getting aware of the significance of protecting their cultural heritages.

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