By Jullie Y. Daza
IN her effort to raise awareness of the deteriorating condition of the Banaue rice terraces, a private citizen may have struck gold with the massive, record-breaking success of “Avengers: Infinity War.” As thousands of Filipino fans may have noticed – the scene takes place in a matter of seconds, but what a sight, what a sunset! – the terraces are the last image on the screen before The End fades out to a forest of credits naming cast and crew, producers, director, writers, special and visual effects artists, stuntmen, CG technicians, carpenters, costume and makeup designers, etc.
What’s more, those credits mention Philippines along with Chile, Brazil, Iceland, Scotland, Atlanta, and New York as the location sites. (Trivia: five-day opening weekend in PH grossed $12.5M or P650M.)
Who would have thought that just as Dr. Milagros O. How, farming advocate, is in the thick of programs to promote the rice terraces and seek help from like-minded citizens, Hollywood and Marvel Comics should come out at this fortuitous, serendipitous time to pay tribute to our UNESCO World Heritage gem as the ultimate retirement destination? Without spoiling the fun for those who have yet to catch “Infinity,” the scene was shot by IndoChina Productions, which doesn’t sound like a PH outfit.
While Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat wonders why DoT has not taken notice, we lowlanders are just as curious to find out why the congressman didn’t speak up sooner, such as when filming was in progress in his bailiwick or soon afterward, so that our movie press might have beat the drums and blown the horn for our part in an epic production. A small part, perhaps, but one that can only enhance our tourism effort.
The rice terraces, a manmade marvel that has survived centuries of typhoons, pestilence, soil erosion, neglect and nonchalance, may show a hint of eternity but not of infinity. Just the same, Dr. How is doing her share by funding an annual search for outstanding farmers, a yearly film festival whose subject is farming, and an ongoing international quest for a symphony that will sound like the “imagined reality” of Banaue. On top of all that, her pet project is still saving the rice terraces, one cluster at a time, 29 hectares for starters. With Dr. How, two soil scientists from Japan are optimistic that the farmers will celebrate their second harvest next year.