Gone banana

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Breathtaking and beautiful. These words best describe the Philippines’ rice terraces in the Cordillera Autonomous Region or, more specifically, in the province of Ifugao.

While many refer to the natural wonder as the Banaue Rice Terraces, there are actually three known rice paddies in the Ifugao town of Banaue. These are the Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Rice Terraces and the Banaue Rice Terraces.

The first two, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, are not called Banaue Rice Terraces as the latter refers to the cluster of rice terraces close to the Banaue poblacion.

The Banaue Rice Terraces were declared by the Philippine government as a National Cultural Treasure under Ifugao Rice Terraces by virtue of Presidential Decree 260 issued in 1973.

Being widely promoted on Philippines postcards, stamps and currency, they became the most famous of Ifugao’s rice terraces. However, if one will tour this place, it may be confused with the ones in Barangay Batad and Bangaan and with those in the towns of Kiangan, Hungduan and Mayoyao.

Tourists may visit the wrong Banaue Rice Terraces in Banaue because there are three such stairway-looking mountains. But if they will look for the Banana Rice Tereces, they won’t find them anywhere in the country.

Banana Rice Tereces is the caption of the Ifugao Rice Terraces photo found in a textbook used by 7th graders of a private school in Baguio City. Parents are complaining of that misspelled word on page 103 of the “MAPEH in Action” book. More shocking was the finding by the Department of Education that the textbook is also used in public schools.

The error may be a simple case of editing or proofreading failure. Nevertheless, it risks teaching children wrong culture and geography.

We have a great tourism promotion slogan in “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” But this kind of geographic spoof is not so funny as it is making fun of the Philippines.

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