It is one prominent element of early education in civics and social studies in the Philippines. When famous Filipino scenic landmarks are mentioned, it is sure to be brought up. In Luzon, at Ifugao province, there is an ancient engineering wonder built by the namesake Ifugao people, the terraced rice paddies that enabled them to grow rice crops on mountainsides in the Cordilleras. These rice terraces are a major local and international tourist destination, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a source of pride for the country; thus it is understandable that a tourism video identifying the terrace builders as early Chinese has been ridiculed and condemned.
The Philippine Star reports that global travel guidebook publisher “Lonely Planet” finds itself in hot water following the release of a recent travel video last Sunday, March 31. The video had erroneously labeled the country’s Rice Terraces as having been constructed by Chinese thousands of years ago. Philippine social media pounced on the mistake, flooding Lonely Planet with corrections and plenty of vitriol at the travel publisher. The company has already taken down the video in question, and announced on Twitter that they have spoken with their editors about it.
Part of the wrong description of the Banaue Rice Terraces was its correct World Heritage Site designation by UNESCO. The official UNESCO description of the Terraces did not contain any reference to ancient Chinese having a hand in its construction, thus removing them as a possible source of wrong info. Lonely Planet did not cite where they got the “built by Chinese” blurb, but merely iterated that they have begun cleaning up the false references in its section regarding the Rice Terraces, which is featured on their list of “The World’s Greenest Places.” While the video with the wrong text has yet to be re-uploaded with corrections, the accompanying text on their website at least no longer mentions the Chinese.
“In light of the feedback we have received, we have amended our online content and are updating our video ‘the world’s greenest places’ which also contains the reference,” Lonely Planet remarked on their Twitter post regarding the ongoing information correction, adding, “We’ll also ensure the terraces are correctly attributed in the updated edition of our printed guide to the Philippines.”
Social media commentators have remarked that this gaffe by a major international travel guide publisher comes uncomfortably close to the start of the ongoing tense standoff between Filipino fishermen and numerous Chinese fishing vessels deep inside the country’s sea territory. There is suspicion that the Chinese on the boats were not fishermen but civilian militia under orders from the Chinese military. The Chinese ambassador to the Philippines denies any skullduggery.
Image courtesy of Culture Trip