Rice: The Asian Staple Food

Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
Trip End May 23, 2011

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"We used to be a nation of farmers, but now it's less than two percent of the population in the United States. So a lot of us don't know a lot about what it takes to grow food." 
-Judith Redmond



A trip to Banaue and/or Batad comes with a 'living-classroom' lesson on the production of rice. 2000 years ago the natives, called the Ifugao, began creating rice terraces and over the years took over an immense amount of land in the northern region of the Philippines. Today the rice terraces are a UNESCO world heritage site, and the area is called the "Eighth Wonder of the World".  Quite the site to see.  My Mom and I explored the rice terraces in both Banaue and Batad.  We spent most of our time in the city of Banaue.


While in Banaue, my Mom and I did a bit of shopping, buying local products.  Particularly, we were fascinated by the wood carvings that the area is so well known for.  My Mom also joined in local festive dances while I watched from the corner, and we ate our favorite local food (lumpia and pancit!!!).  Our meals almost always included a taste of the locally-grown rice.





In order to reach Batad, a secluded village filled with rice terraces housing fewer than 1,500 people, my Mom and I took a Jeepney to the 'Saddle' location and then walked the rest of the way.  Any visitor to the Philippines will quickly learn of Jeepneys, the common form of transportation throughout the Philippines.  Jeepney is a public transportation vehicle that was originally created using US military jeeps that remained from WW II.  Our guide informed us that the name Jeepney is derived from the fact that while driving in the jeep, the passengers knees would often hit one another.  My Mom and I can attest to this name, and from the bumpiness of the terrain upon which we traveled, we proposed new names including the 'Tush-Ney' or 'Free Massage Vehicle'.




When exploring the Batad rice terraces by foot, we watched local animals being used in the preparation of the land, learned about the irrigation systems that were created thousands of years ago, participated in the process of planting rice stalks, and discovered how the harvesting process takes place.  Further, we were taught that the difference between brown rice and white rice is that the former is unpolished whereas the latter is polished. During the visit in Batad, I additionally made my way to a 70-meter falls called Tappiyah.  Breathtaking.  I cannot imagine ever appreciating the taste of rice the way I did during my time in Batad and Banaue when I was so aware of the process of harvesting this Asian staple food.  


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