• Coke Barkada Award
Chain of Change (Environment, Entrepreneurship): The thousand-year-old rice terraces are deteriorating in Ifugao because of migration of farmers to flat land that is easier to cultivate. This may result in the revocation of its UNESCO World Heritage listing. The problem affects the people around it as well, as residents dependent on income from the terraces were also struggling. This led to the creation of the organization.
Linked Up!: Batchmates from Assumption Academy in Mayoyao
The TAYO Connection: Josh Nalliw met a TAYO 6 winner during a seminar in the U.S. She was encouraged to take the lead and sign up TAYO.
In 2005, a number of high school alumni of Assumption Academy in Mayoyao decided to pro-actively work towards the development of the community in terms of income generation and the preservation of culture surrounding the rice terraces. Hence, the Pochon Maanichar Centennial Batch Association, Inc. was born. (Pochon is the Ifugao term for peace pact while Maanichar means alert and active.)
The migration of some resident farmers to nearby flat lands led to the deterioration not only of the rice terraces but the rice farming culture as well. A lot of the Ifugao traditions were grounded on the planting and harvesting seasons.
As a response, the Mayoyao Eco-Cultural Tours was conceived. It aims to help the community engage in income-generating activities, conserve remaining rice terraces systems as well as preserve traditional practices within the ancestral domain.
The project aims to promote the Mayoyao Terraces not just as a scenic spot, but as a working agricultural area as well. The tours operate with the natural rice cycle to showcase an authentic experience. They are held twice a year, particularly during rice planting (January-February) and harvesting (June-July), allowing tourists to participate in either planting or harvesting.
Tourists get to trek through the landscape, learn about the construction of native houses, and witness cultural performances. In turn, the host community earns through fees given to tour guides, caterers, lodge-owners, performers and the Indigenous Knowledge Holders.
The project not only helps the tourists understand the culture, but help the younger residents learn the intricacies as well. As most of their youth live and study in other areas, they are not as exposed to their heritage. The enactment of the planting and harvest rituals annually allows them to embrace their roots and understand the aspects of their culture that they may know only peripherally.
Though the organization markets the project for ecotourism, they also limit the number of guests that they receive per cycle to 50. This is to allow the tourism operators to have a viable means of income, but not to the point of commercializing the operations.
Converting the TAYO prize: The organization hopes to use the prize to perpetuate the implementation of the project and help the community.