This was a conversation between me and my guide this morning on my hike up Mt. Kupapey in Bontoc.

He pointed out how wider Maligcong Rice Terraces used to be, however when the elders died the younger generations didn’t continue working on the fields. Some even abandoned their ricelands.

There are a lot of factors— internet, modernization, seeking opportunities elsewhere. Can we blame them though?

But for him the main reason was— the cost of farming is more expensive than it used to be and it’s now more convenient to simply buy rice from the market.

In Bontoc, current rice grain in the market costs Php 65/kg, and selling their cultivated rice from the rice terraces would have no return of investment, it can even be a loss. Therefore, the rice fields are not cultivated as livelihood resource but to sustain their homes for survival. 

So when I asked him, “In time, when newer generations continue to lose interest in managing the fields, do you think these beautiful rice terraces will cease to exist?” He answered, “maybe”.

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