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Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Extension)

Date of Submission: 07/02/2024
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of the Philippines to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Province of Ifugao, Luzon Island
Ref.: 6721

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The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Ahin Rice Terraces: 16°46' N, 120°56' E

Hingyon Rice Terraces Cluster (Cababuyan South, Northern Cababuyan, Mompolia, and Poblacion): 16°51' N, 121°5' E

Central Banaue Rice Terraces Cluster (Pula, Cambulo, Poitan, Tam-an, Amganad, Kinakin, Gohang, San Fernando, Uhaj, Bocos, and Viewpoint): 16°55' N, 121°3' E

Ducligan Rice Terraces: 16°54' N, 121°9' E

1) Ahin Rice Terraces, Municipality of Tinoc

The rice terraces of Ahin continue to persist due to the maintenance of indigenous knowledge passed down through generations by the Kalanguya Ifugao. Distinguished by their unique language and pantheon compared to other Ifugao groups, the Kalanguya maintain an important sacred space where nature and culture seamlessly intertwine. Ahin Village, the place of origin for the Kalanguya people, has seen them spread across several provinces in the Cordilleras, including Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, and Pangasinan. The rice terraces of Ahin serve as a powerful symbol of the resilient genesis of a community that has faced numerous challenges in their environment while striving to establish a sustainable way of life. This monument represents the resolute determination of a people who have successfully navigated a demanding landscape, ultimately thriving to become one of the leading indigenous communities in Northern Luzon.

2) Hingyon Rice Terraces Cluster (Cababuyan South, Northern Cababuyan, Mompolia, and Poblacion), Municipality of Hingyon

The rice terraces of Hingyon play a crucial role as a primary repository for tinawon, which represents heirloom rice varieties unique to the broader Ifugao terraces landscape. Preserving and cultivating these ancestral rice strains requires a commitment to traditional farming techniques, rituals, and practices, emphasizing the distinctiveness of Ifugao rice culture. Hingyon's dedication to maintaining a traditional agricultural cycle linked to these heirloom varieties makes these terraces a prime example of Ifugao intangible culture. It is noteworthy that they are among the last strongholds safeguarding the UNESCO-listed Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Hudhud chants of the Ifugaos. In addition to their agricultural significance, the Hingyon terraces are known for their thriving tradition of traditional weaving, which is intricately intertwined with their agricultural cycle. As the leading weaving center in the province, Hingyon is renowned for producing traditional Ifugao fabrics that are essential supplies for markets in Banaue and Baguio, solidifying its pivotal role in the regional cultural and economic landscape.

3) Central Banaue Rice Terraces Cluster (Pula, Cambulo, Poitan, Tam-an, Amganad, Kinakin, Gohang, San Fernando, Uhaj, Bocos, and Viewpoint) and Ducligan Rice Terraces, Municipality of Banaue

The rice terrace clusters within the Municipality of Banaue, such as the UNESCO-inscribed Batad and Bangaan terraces, stand as prime examples of traditional natural resource management. The preservation of these spectacular rice terrace landscapes relies heavily on the careful maintenance of community-managed woodlots, which play a crucial role in enhancing both their visual appeal and biodiversity. The perpetuation of age-old practices in these areas is closely tied to the continued existence of the terraces themselves, highlighting the importance of recognizing their cultural significance. Such recognition is vital in protecting these sites from the various challenges posed by contemporary changes and environmental factors, ensuring the enduring legacy of these terraces for generations to come.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is an outstanding example of an evolved, living cultural landscape that can be traced as far back as two millennia ago in the pre-colonial Philippines. The terraces are located in the remote areas of the Philippine Cordillera mountain range on the northern island of Luzon, Philippine archipelago. While the historic terraces cover an extensive area, the inscribed property consists of five clusters of the most intact and impressive terraces, located in four municipalities.  They are all the product of the Ifugao ethnic group, a minority community that has occupied these mountains for thousands of years.

The five inscribed clusters are; (i) the Nagacadan terrace cluster in the municipality of Kiangan, a rice terrace cluster manifested in two distinct ascending rows of terraces bisected by a river; (ii) the Hungduan terrace cluster that uniquely emerges into a spider web; (iii) the central Mayoyao terrace cluster which is characterized by terraces interspersed with traditional farmers’ bale (houses) and alang (granaries); (iv) the Bangaan terrace cluster in the municipality of Banaue that backdrops a typical Ifugao traditional village; and (v) the Batad terrace cluster of the municipality of Banaue that is nestled in amphitheatre-like semi-circular terraces with a village at its base.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces epitomize the absolute blending of the physical, socio-cultural, economic, religious, and political environment.  Indeed, it is a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces are the priceless contribution of Philippine ancestors to humanity.  Built 2000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation, the Ifugao Rice Terraces represent an enduring illustration of an ancient civilization that surpassed various challenges and setbacks posed by modernization.

Reaching a higher altitude and being built on steeper slopes than many other terraces, the Ifugao complex of stone or mud walls and the careful carving of the natural contours of hills and mountains to make terraced pond fields, coupled with the development of intricate irrigation systems, harvesting water from the forests of the mountain tops, and an elaborate farming system, reflect a mastery of engineering that is appreciated to the present.

The terraces illustrate a persistence of cultural traditions and remarkable continuity and endurance, since archaeological evidence reveals that this technique has been in use in the region for 2000 years virtually unchanged. They offer many lessons for application in similar environments elsewhere.

The maintenance of the living rice terraces reflects a primarily cooperative approach of the whole community which is based on detailed knowledge of the rich diversity of biological resources existing in the Ifugao agro-ecosystem, a finely tuned annual system respecting lunar cycles, zoning and planning, extensive soil conservation, mastery of a most complex pest control regime based on the processing of a variety of herbs, accompanied by religious rituals.

Criterion (iii): The rice terraces are a dramatic testimony to a community's sustainable and primarily communal system of rice production, based on harvesting water from the forest clad mountain tops and creating stone terraces and ponds, a system that has survived for two millennia.

Criterion (iv): The rice terraces are a memorial to the history and labour of more than a thousand generations of small-scale farmers who, working together as a community, have created a landscape based on a delicate and sustainable use of natural resources.

Criterion (v): The rice terraces are an outstanding example of land-use that resulted from a harmonious interaction between people and its environment which has produced a steep terraced landscape of great aesthetic beauty, now vulnerable to social and economic changes.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

1) Ahin Rice Terraces, Municipality of Tinoc

The Ahin Rice Terraces, akin to their counterparts in Ifugao Province, epitomize authenticity in form, character, and function within the ambit of World Heritage Site status. Renowned for their cultural and agricultural significance, these terraces bear witness to generations of meticulous care by the Ifugao people, thereby manifesting a tribute to the traditional culture, sustainable farming techniques, and engineering prowess of the Kalanguya Ifugaos.

As a cultural landscape, the Ahin Rice Terraces symbolize the harmonious coexistence between the local populace and their environment, offering not only agricultural productivity but also embodying the profound peace inherent in this symbiotic relationship. The pursuit of World Heritage status for the Ahin Rice Terraces stems from a dedicated commitment to their preservation, recognizing their pivotal role as a substantial source of income for local communities and a paramount symbol of cultural identity.

In earnest endeavors to preserve the authenticity of the Kalanguya Ifugao’s Rice Terraces, rigorous efforts have been undertaken to safeguard and conserve these terraces. Concurrently, the local populace remains actively involved in the perpetuation of traditional agricultural practices handed down through generations. These terraces, characterized by enduring authenticity, stand as an integral facet of the Kalanguya Ifugao’s cultural identity and are acknowledged as a quintessential exemplar of one of the world's most genuine and enduring cultural landscapes.

2) Hingyon Rice Terraces Cluster (Cababuyan South, Northern Cababuyan, Mompolia, and Poblacion), Municipality of Hingyon

The Hingyon Rice Terraces situated across four barangays, namely Barangay Cababuyan South, Barangay Northern Cababuyan, Barangay Mompolia, and Barangay Poblacion, stand as a preeminent agricultural landscape and tangible cultural heritage within the municipality. These rice terraces served as more than mere agricultural expanses; they functioned as poignant barometers reflecting the socio-economic status, values, spirituality, management systems, and cultural practices deeply ingrained in the community. The interweaving of the community's way of life with the rice terraces and their environment attests to the profound significance of this cultural landscape.

Remarkably, the rice terraces within the proposed sites in Hingyon exhibit a temporal kinship with those declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in other municipalities, such as Kiangan, Banaue, Hungduan, and Mayoyao. Characterized by flattened surfaces and retaining walls, these rice terraces extend seamlessly from bunds to buffer zones, mirroring the architectural features found in the aforementioned recognized sites. The size of the terraces varies based on topography, with expansive terraces adorning gently sloping areas (less than 5%) and more diminutive ones adorning steep slopes (up to 70%), as distinctly evident in the targeted areas.

The irrigation systems, strategically positioned above the terraces, draw water from streams, creeks, or rivers, ensuring a constant water supply that keeps the paddies consistently moist throughout the production season. This methodical water management, consistent with the practices observed in the acknowledged World Heritage Sites, underscores the sustainable and ingenious agricultural techniques ingrained in the cultural fabric of these rice terraces.

3) Central Banaue Rice Terraces Cluster (Pula, Cambulo, Poitan, Tam-an, Amganad, Kinakin, Gohang, San Fernando, Uhaj, Bocos, and Viewpoint) and Ducligan Rice Terraces, Municipality of Banaue

The rice terraces across various barangays in Banaue, including Pula, Cambulo, Poitan, Tam-an, Amganad, Kinakin, Ducligan, Gohang, San Fernando, Uhaj, Bocos, and Viewpoint, collectively represent an extraordinary cultural landscape of unparalleled authenticity and integrity. These rice terraces, characterized by a diverse range of construction materials, agricultural practices, and cultural traditions, showcase a remarkable similarity to the declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Batad and Bangaan within the same municipality.

In Barangay Pula, the stonewalled rice terraces, extensive in scope, are complemented by a surrounding forest, serving as a crucial water source for the rice fields. Cambulo features stone-walled terraces with breathtaking views, while Poitan stands out with its combination of stonewalled and mud-walled terraces, preserving old traditions and beliefs. Tam-an boasts a unique combination of mud-walled and stone-walled rice terraces, showcasing the rich diversity within the municipality.

The Amganad Rice Terraces in Barangay Amganad are characterized by expansive mud-walled structures, and the retention of the tinawon rice variety demonstrates a commitment to traditional agricultural practices. Kinakin and Ducligan feature stonewalled rice terraces, adding to the overall architectural tapestry of Banaue. Gohang exhibits a predominance of mud-walled structures with a few stonewalled terraces, contributing to the nuanced agricultural panorama.

In San Fernando, mud-walled rice terraces showcase a distinct facet of construction techniques, while Uhaj presents a harmonious blend of mud-walled and stonewalled rice terraces. Barangay Bocos, offers a mixture of mud-walled and stonewalled rice terraces, positioning itself as a unique cultural site. The Viewpoint Rice Terraces, clustered near the town center, present an extensive expanse of mud-walled terraces at an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level, adding a geographical dimension to the rich cultural heritage.

Comparison with other similar properties

1) Ahin Rice Terraces, Municipality of Tinoc

The Ahin Terraces in Tinoc Municipality compares to the UNESCO-declared sites of Batad, Bangaan, Hungduan and Central Mayoyao in terms of traditional knowledge and practices being employed in its continuity as an evolved cultural landscape. While the listed sites are located in the territories of  the two major Ifugao groups namely the Tuwali and Ayangan Ifugaos, the inclusion of Ahin Rice Terraces will facilitate the representation of the Kalanguya Ifugaos, the third major ethno-linguistic group and thus will complete full representation of all Ifugao ethno-linguistic groups in the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.

2) Hingyon Rice Terraces Cluster (Cababuyan South, Northern Cababuyan, Mompolia, and Poblacion), Municipality of Hingyon

The Hingyon Rice Terraces of Cababuyan, Mompolia and Poblacion is kept alive by indigenous knowledge systems and practices which mainly characterize the listed sites of Kiangan, Hungduan, Banaue and Mayoyao. The diversity of traditional rice and hence traditional agricultural practices is more pronounced in this Tuwali villages of Hingyon and is no less authentic than those in the listed clusters.

3) Central Banaue Rice Terraces Cluster (Pula, Cambulo, Poitan, Tam-an, Amganad, Kinakin, Gohang, San Fernando, Uhaj, Bocos, and Viewpoint) and Ducligan Rice Terraces, Municipality of Banaue

The rice terraces of the proposed extension sites are maintained in the same manner as those in the World Heritage clusters of Batad and Bangaan in the same municipality and differ only in varying degrees of material use and scale. Including these other villages in the list of World Heritage Sites will also strengthen the integrity of the listed sites as these are geographically contiguous to the latter and have always been culturally connected since time immemorial.