I am not really into e-bay but I ocassionally visit the site for the Cordillera-related items being sold online. It’s a good site if you are into memorabilia and if you have the money to spare for old postcards, Igorot weapons, Ifugao bulols, and all that kind of stuff.
I have mixed feelings about our culture becoming objects of commerce (or, to put it more bluntly, people making money out of it) but its not as if this is happening without our tacit participation. In other words, those Igorot antiques won’t end up on e-bay being sold by some guy from Iowa if we didn’t give it to the guy in the first place.
Anyway, the Coca Cola bottles above which I found on e-bay has a picture and an accompanying description of the Banaue Rice Terraces. According to the seller, the following is written at the back of the bottle:
“A remote mountain community, Banaue is 8 hours drive north of Baguio. This trekkers paradise is home to the Eight Wonder of the World, the breathtakingly beautiful Banaue Rice Terraces.”
I was really impressed the first time I saw the Banaue Rice Terraces. Even though I come from the Cordilleras and rice terraces are not new to me, the Banaue terraces did take my breath away. I was most struck by how extensive the terraces were. They cover several mountains, so even though the bus that I was riding in kept moving and turning around in those road curves, more terraces kept appearing from another part of the mountain range. Obviously, this happened years before our Banaue friends started building houses that blocked the view to the terraces. These days, you have to stop at the Viewpoint to see the terraces. You can still have a good look but I’m not sure if you can appreciate the extensiveness of the terraces if you just stand in one spot.
Anyway, while we are on this topic, and in case you still don’t know, there’s no such thing as an “eighth wonder of the world”. I remember a friend who was assigned as a teacher-assistant in the U.S. and who, when introducing herself, said something to the effect that she comes from the Philippines, “where you can find the eighth wonder of the world.” The students were like, “What is she talking about?” While she was like, “These students are so ignorant, they don’t even know that there’s an eighth wonder of the world. In the Philippines, we learn about it in Social Studies.”
My poor friend later found out that there’s really no “eighth wonder of the world”. Officially, there are only seven wonders of the world. I think our national leaders, in their quest to make it appear that the Philippines is “world class”, invented an “eighth wonder” title and decided to append it to Banaue. It is a misguided effort; it makes us look silly to the rest of the world. It’s like Imelda Marcos getting the beauty title, “Rose of Manila” when there is really no such title.
Don’t get me wrong, Banaue is great (despite the houses blocking the terraces) and, of course, the hard work, the skill, and the talent that our Ifugao ancestors invested to build the terraces is greater. But we should not diminish the terraces’ innate greatness by giving it silly manufactured titles that nobody in the world recognizes.