“If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it” – Bernard Weber, Founder New7Wonders

It seems like however beautiful the Philippines is, it always tails the list of world wonders. For a long time now, there’s been a lot of talk about why the amazing Banaue Rice Terraces never made it to the list of the Ancient World Wonders. The Banaue Rice Terraces is the largest system of terraced-rice fields that can be found around the world. Yes, other countries like Indonesia has it too, but the Philippines has the biggest, covering about 11 000 square kilometers of mountainside. It covers such a huge area that it’s been said that if we put the steps of the Banaue Rice Terraces side by side, it will cover half the globe. (I wonder who would want to start measuring.)

We, Filipinos, endearingly name it the Eighth Wonder of the World. And for good reason — it was hand-carved by the indigenous peoples of Ifugao 2,000 to 6,000 years ago to sustain the planting of rice in the region. Located thousands of meters above sea level, it is irrigated through the rainforests above the mountains. More than a touristic landmark, it is also an engineering wonder that does not fail to awe both nature and non-nature lovers. For its magnanimity, one can call it our version of the pyramids.

Since 1995, the Banaue Rice Terraces share an honored spot in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, along with the Philippine Baroque Churches, the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, the Historic Town of Vigan and the Underground River of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

The Underground River… or for a more complicated term, the Subterranean River… that’s another eighth-wonder-case. It is now a strong Philippine contender for the New7Wonders of Nature campaign. As of this writing, it ranks second in the Group E (forests, natural parks and nature reserves) category of the campaign. This is the second phase of the campaign. During the first phase, there were three natural wonders that contended for the Philippines — the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Mayon Volcano and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Of the three contenders, the Underground River garnered the most popular votes to represent the Philippines (only one representative of nature PER country is accepted in the second phase, for a graphic explanation of the voting procedure, please click here).

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is the longest navigable underground river (8.2 km) in the world. Nestled about 50 km away from the center of the city, it is embraced by a limestone karst mountain and features a rich mixture of flora and fauna endemic only in Palawan. Many trekkers explore the mountain around the underground river, bumping into lizards, monkeys and many different animals along the way. But if one chooses to enter the cave, different treats wonderfully and naturally formed by stalactites and stalagmites shall be found.

I have personally been to the underground river many times. The interaction with nature in this place is much satisfying. It continues to be a beautiful spot because the city government supports and protects it. The city government even trains the boatmen who tour travelers in the underground river. I deem it important to note that their stories about the cave and hospitality to travelers are indispensable ingredients in making the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park a huge success.

Oh, and before I get carried away (again) with my story, let’s not be contented in being number 8 again. VOTE NOW for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (not to be confused with the Seven Wonders of the World) and usher in more tourists to the Philippines! #