BAGUIO CITY, Nov. 4(PIA) -- The recent wakeskating stunt by foreign nationals at the centuries-old Banaue Rice Terraces gathered different reactions from the various sectors, some saying it was a good way to promote the place but it also raised eyebrows.
On Wednesday, during the weekly Kapihan sa Baguio forum, Department of Tourism Regional Director Purificacion Molintas explained that the wakeskating stunt by professional wakeskaters Brian Grubb of the United States and Dominik Preisner of Germany uploaded online last week, was a one-time video promotional material which was organized and directly coordinated by the foreign organizers with the local government of Banaue, Ifugao.
Wakeskating is similar to the popular water sport wakeboarding but users are not bound to the board.
“It is well coordinated, supervised by the mayor and coordinated with the council of elders… Everything was properly coordinated,” said Molintas.
According to Molintas, the organizers coordinated directly with the local government of Banaue through Mayor Jerry Dalipog.
The local government unit then made arrangements with the owners of the rice field and they conducted the necessary consultations among the people in the area particularly the elders for their approval. Then traditional rituals were conducted with the 'Mumbakis' or the high priests of Ifugao to ask the gods for permission for the activity.
Dalipog has asked the organizers that they hire local people of Banaue during the video shoot and for the organizers to promote Banaue internationally.
Molintas also explained that the area where the wakeskating was done located at the NFA viewpoint, is a privately owned property and it is not among the two World Heritage Sites identified by the UNESCO. The area is what is designed in the P1000 bill.
She added that there was no violation of agricultural practice since the period where they shoot the wakeskating was during the time when the farmers are preparing the fields for the planting season.
The only thing the organizers did was to increase the height of the paddies by adding mud and adding more water to it, she said.
According to Molintas, Dalipog personally made preparations for the event with the foreign nationals six months ago and the DOT was not consulted and was not part of the video promotion.
The activity in Banaue was only found out by the DOT when a staff of the DOT-Cordillera Regional Office was conducting a familiarization tour in the area and asked the tourism officers and the officials regarding the activity.
Meanwhile, Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat is calling for an investigation over the wake skating event at the sacred rice terraces of Banaue.
"We will have to find out if there will be no endangerment of lives as well as the structure and the impact on agriculture," Baguilat said.
He explained the terraces were created for food production and all other uses are secondary and must be appropriate to the ecosystem of the terraces.(JDP/RC-PIA CAR)