The Ifugao Rice Terraces World Heritage Site: The Need for Culture-Sensitive Conservation Strategies
Loreta Vivian R. Galima (Nueva Vizcaya State University)
The Ifugao Rice Terraces as a designated World Heritage Area which had for a time been listed on the danger list, had been the subject of serious restoration and conservation efforts by the national, provincial and local levels of the Philippine government in partnership with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and some local interest groups. This study probes into the strategies pursued by the government in restoring and conserving the world heritage areas in Ifugao, clustered as: (1) the Nangadacan terraces cluster of Kiangan, (2) Batad rice terraces cluster of Banaue, (3) Bangaan rice terraces cluster, (4)Hungduan rice terraces cluster and the (5) Central Mayoyao rice terraces cluster. Through qualitative research, data on how the local and provincial government intend to pursue strategies in stemming the tide of environmental degradation and the proliferation of structures and other problems and issues concerning the heritage sites were collected. The issues and problems were identified through environmental scanning, face-to-face interviews with the people in the heritage areas and the officials of the province, down to the barangay (village) level. The whole research proceeded on grounded theory, employed theoretical sampling techniques in the selection of informants and key informants, and both non-participant and participant observation. The so-called attempt toward “disneyfication” as a means of preserving the heritage sites was met with enthusiasm for the “development” it promises, and dismay on the other hand, because of the perceived impending loss of identity and uniqueness of the heritage sites. Eventually, the people will have to look towards indigenizing conservation strategies to preserve the uniqueness of the heritage sites.