THE LOST TERRACES

Itogon, Benguet, Philippines


Documenting the long-lost rice terraces of Itogon. A four-hour hike might seem daunting, but the realities of life there make you open your eyes. Things change, as it will always will, yet the people's resilience permeates their everyday life. I was surrounded by young pine trees, plants whose names I do not know, and the kind people who make life look easy, when it sometimes is not. They make do of what is present in their surroundings; being resourceful and innovative in their own ways. I have much respect for these people whose hearts and grace remain, even when almost everything has been lost.

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We were all tired. We've been hiking for 3 hours. Another hour left to reach the road to catch the jeep back to town. Armed with his backpack and knife, he guided us through the woods. In between rests, he talked about the past... His laments fell not only to our ears, but also to our surroundings, which, according to him, have changed drastically over the years. He remained quiet while we rested with cups of sodas and junk food, clutching tight to the knife he brought.

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In the many dwellings that were dotted in this area, many seemed temporarily abandoned. Until I passed this house.