odds faced by the Ifugao to assure access to food … set the stage for the bul-ul, the rice god figures that came to be a mechanism through which superhuman restraint became central to the production of a basic need.” Indeed, the Igorot embrace no fewer than 1,500 gods, each type fulfilling a different function. The bul-ul is a large-headed, seated or standing humanoid figure, ritually carved, usually from sacred narra wood. The sizes of the rice field and its guardian bul-ul are directly related: the Banaue terraces have large, thickset bul-ul. Once the ceremonies and feasts are completed, the figure is installed in a granary in the attic of a house, from which it is believed to protect crops and ensure abundant harvests. But the forces threatening the Banaue rice terraces, and others like them at Hungduan, Kiangan, Mayoyao, and Bontok, are other than spiritual.

Rice farming is labor intensive—and hard labor at that—and yields low financial returns. The main threat to the terraces is the departure of young Ifugaos, who seek better work opportunities in the cities. Water shortage is also a problem: the lack of rain in the dry season is exacerbated by systematic deforestation and illegal logging. Because of such poor forestry management there is no longer enough water for irrigation, and recent harvests have been unable to sustain even the terrace owners, much less provide a cash crop. Moreover, with only one crop a year, mountainside farming compares poorly with the lowland paddies, where there are two. Many Ifugao farmers, encouraged by the Rice Terraces Commission (RTC), established under President Fidel Ramos in 1994, are now planting vegetables that can be harvested after six weeks, a quarter of the time needed for rice.

In 1998, when these combined problems were exacerbated by accelerated erosion caused by introduced giant earthworms, the RTC introduced a plan to maintain the terraces, focused on the preservation of Ifugao culture, diversification of the regional economic base, and the application of appropriate current agricultural technology. Its success has yet to be proven. Promoted by the Philippines tourism authority as “the eighth wonder of the world,” the Banaue rice terraces are among the country’s major attractions. Already under threat from cultural change, neglect, and inadequate irrigation, if they are not maintained they will be in ruins within a couple of decades.

Further reading

Barton, Roy Franklin. 1922. Ifugao Economics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Palencia, Joaquin C. 1998. The Ifugao Bul-nl. Tribal Arts Online. May. http://www.tribalarts.com.

Reyes, Angelo J., and de los Aloma, M., eds. 1987. Igorot: A People Who Daily Touch the Earth and the Sky. Baguio, Philippines: CSC.

Scott, William Henry. 1966. On the Cordillera: A Look at the Peoples and Cultures of the Mountain Province. Manila: MCS Enterprises.

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

San Francisco, California

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a 95-mile (152-kilometer) automated rapid-transit system, the first of the “new generation” of such systems in the United States. By the end of the twentieth century there were thirteen in operation, including Washington, D.C. (opened 1976), Atlanta (1979), and Miami (1986). BART has thirty-nine stations on five lines radiating out from San Francisco to serve Contra Costa and Alameda Counties in the eastern Bay Area of northern California.

In 1947 a joint Army-Navy review board, predicted that another connecting link between San Francisco and Oakland would be needed to prevent intolerable traffic congestion on the Bay Bridge. It proposed the construction of a tube to carry high-speed electric trains under the waters of the bay. Four years later the California State Legislature created the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission and charged it with finding a long-term transportation solution in the context of environmental problems, not least among them the danger from earthquakes. After six years of investigation, the commission concluded that any transportation plan would have to be part of a total regional development plan. Because no such plan existed, the commission prepared a coordinated master strategy, later adopted by the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The commission’s most economical transportation solution was to establish a five-county rapid-transit