The rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are a complex set of systems, which over time have come to realise a state of symbiosis. However, symbiosis is not a static achievement. Currently the rice terraces are in danger of degradation through a lack of labour as the traditional inhabitants, the Ifugao, migrate to the cities in search of more lucrative employment and access to government services. This migration has created a labour shortage, leaving terrace walls in disrepair and nurseries unattended.
These issues can be faced by instigating a revival of Baddang. This traditional custom of the Ifugao people involves a trade of labour in return for food and shelter. This historical custom could be revived today to provide services and basic labour on the rice terraces. Temporary accommodation for both skilled labour and unskilled labour is required. Organizations such as ‘Hands Up Holidays’ offer trips where social service is intertwined with cultural experience. This arrangement of tourists giving back to the places that they visit creates a new form of symbiosis between people and the landscape.
Three facets of the program are identified as healthcare, education and accommodation. All are based in the stewardship of the site and its traditions. Accommodation forms the backbone of the healthcare and educational facilities as it allows these services to be rendered without the issue of transport and access. Accommodation facilities will be modern in technology, but will draw from the traditional building forms and customs to embed the new construction in a history of building which dates to back over two thousand years on the site.
A series of healthcare clinics across the region, staffed by doctors on temporary visits, could vastly improve health conditions of the Ifugao, who struggle without access to government health services such as basic inoculations. In exchange for their labour the doctors will be given a truly unique opportunity to experience a rich and diverse culture and location. They will be offered accommodation on site and will become part of the village for their stay. This experience is one that will no doubt be completely different for doctors travelling as tourists from the west. The access to these vital services will help to bridge the social services gap between the villages and the low land cities.