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The irrigated, terraced fields were already known to the Spanish during the first expeditions to Kiangan (c.
30km south of Banaue) in the 1750s, but formal description did not come until the successful Spanish occupation of the town in AD 1793.
For Southeast Asian scholars, dating these terraces is critical for understanding Philippine prehistory and Southeast Asian patterns more generally.
Beyond the scholarly community, the terraced Ifugao landscape has captured the world's imagination as an important cultural landscape (UNESCO 1995).
These contacts might have facilitated the movement of lowland peoples to the highlands when the Spanish established bases in their locales (Keesing 1962).
Today, the Ifugao practise a combination of wet-rice terraced farming and swiddening.
They began their expeditions on the western side of northern Luzon (Ilocos provinces) in AD 1572 and established garrisons in the Cagayan Valley in AD 1591 (Keesing 1962: 20-5).
Lowland-mountain contacts are known even before the Spanish arrival.Resolving the antiquity of the entire Cordillera terraced field tradition requires archaeological work to determine whether the conventional 'long history' or the revisionist 'short history' more accurately represents the occupational history of this region.Such work requires decades of research in different provinces across the mountainous region, beginning with areas within Ifugao province.The earliest ethnohistoric record for Ifugao rice terraces comes from an AD 1801 letter of Fray Juan Molano, OP (Scott 1974: 199).The dearth of references to this terracing system in colonial Spanish accounts from AD 1572 to AD 1750 led Keesing (1962: 319) to conclude that Ifugao rice terracing was of comparatively recent innovation.