Skip links
Sagada 2024

Sagada 2024

Sagada, located in the Mountain Province of the northern Philippines, is a picturesque town that’s often shrouded in mist and rich with indigenous culture and breathtaking natural wonders. Known for its cool climate, Sagada sits approximately 5,000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by rugged mountains and verdant forests.

Sagada 2024

An island with intresting traditions in the heart of pacific ocean

Sagada presents a centuries-old mortuary custom that has bewildered and intrigued visitors for decades – the hanging coffins. This ancient practice stands as a testament to the unique cultural identity and funeral traditions of the indigenous people of Sagada, specifically the Igorot tribe.

The Igorots, who have long resisted foreign influences, including colonization, have maintained much of their indigenous customs and one of the most visually striking is their traditional burial ritual. Unlike conventional burial methods, the Igorots carve their own coffins out of hollowed logs. When they are near death, the elderly carve their own coffins, if able. Otherwise, it is done by their close relatives.

Upon the individual’s passing, the body is placed in the fetal position, emulating how they entered the world, signifying the Igorot’s belief in the cycle of life and death. The coffins, typically only a meter in length due to the fetal position, are then hung or nailed to the sides of cliffs, high above the ground. It’s believed that suspending the coffin from the cliff makes the soul closer to the heavens and ancestral spirits, also protecting the body from animals and floods.

The locations of these coffins are often in proximity to the Echo Valley, with the imposing limestone cliffs providing the backdrop for this archaeological phenomena. The most accessible site for viewing the hanging coffins is near the Echo Valley trail, just a short hike from Sagada’s town proper, where clusters of these extraordinary coffins can be seen in varying stages of decay, marking generations of Igorot burials.

This practice, while still observed in some form, has become increasingly rare, and the number of hanging coffins added in recent times is few. Nonetheless, the tradition persists as both a sacred religious practice and a cultural attraction.

There are practical and spiritual reasons behind this method; spiritually, elevating the coffins puts the deceased closer to heaven, while practically, it prevents the bodies from being taken by beasts and also preserves valuable agricultural land.

Moreover, the hanging coffins are not an isolated practice within Sagada. This burial practice can be seen across other parts of Asia, though it is particularly emblematic of the Igorot’s resistance to change and their dedication to the ways of their ancestors.

 Sagada attractions: The cross mountains and hanging coffins

Sagada also offers endless adventures for the outdoor enthusiast. The spelunker’s haven, Sumaguing Cave, also known as the “Big Cave,” is the largest cave in the region and features stunning rock formations, pools, and narrow passages. Cave connection tours, which combine Sumaguing with Lumiang Cave, offer a challenging but rewarding experience for visitors. It’s a journey through a subterranean landscape that feels otherworldly.

Not far from these caves are the impressive Bomod-ok and Pongas Falls, where visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim on hot days. The treks to both waterfalls are an excellent way to appreciate Sagada’s scenery, as the trails pass through rice terraces and traditional villages.

Sagada’s terraced landscapes also mesmerize visitors. The rice terraces, carved into the mountains, showcase the Igorots’ masterful engineering and respect for the land. These emerald-green terraces are not only a source of food but also an element of cultural pride.

For those interested in witnessing traditional practices, the town is known for its weaving and pottery, which are still done in traditional methods passed down through generations. Visiting the Sagada Weaving and Sagada Pottery will give you a glimpse of these crafts in action and offer the opportunity to buy authentic hand-made products.

Climate: A High-Altitude Haven

Sagada’s climate is subtropical highland, providing the region with milder temperatures and less humidity compared to the lowlands. Days can be warm and sunny, while nights are cool to chilly, especially from November to February. The cool climate is a factor in the area’s tourism appeal, drawing visitors to experience a break from the Philippine’s warmer climates.

Fog is a common sight, lending an ethereal beauty to the landscape, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon. The town also experiences its fair share of rainfall, with the wet season stretching from June to October, although showers can occur year-round due to the town’s elevation. Despite the rain, the weather remains pleasant, and the ample precipitation nurtures a verdant environment that underscores the area’s natural beauty.

Cuisine: A Taste of the Mountains

The cuisine of Sagada is a mix of traditional Igorot dishes influenced by both the climate and the available local produce. Root crops are staple foods here, especially sweet potatoes, known locally as “kamote,” which thrive in the cooler temperatures. They are often boiled, roasted, or made into sweet desserts.

One can’t discuss food in Sagada without mentioning “etag,” a distinctive local delicacy. Etag is pork meat that is preserved through salting and sun-drying – a process similar to making bacon. It is then used in various dishes, from soups and stews to being fried or grilled as a savory treat. Combined with Sagada’s famous vegetables, etag delivers a full-flavored rustic meal.

Sagada is also renowned for its organically grown coffee, which can be enjoyed in the town’s quaint cafes. With the cool climate favoring coffee cultivation, enjoying a hot cup while taking in the views of the mountainous terrain has become a must-do for tourists.

With fertile soil due to the abundant rainfall, Sagada grows a variety of vegetables and fruits that other parts of the Philippines struggle to produce. Fresh produce like lettuce, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, and other temperate crops are common in local markets and used generously in dishes, providing a fresh and healthy component to the region’s cuisine.

Another favorite with locals and tourists alike is the “pinikpikan,” a chicken dish unique to the Cordilleras. The preparation involves a traditional method of beating the live chicken before cooking it, believed to enhance the flavor. It is then cooked with “etag” and local vegetables, resulting in a hearty soup.

Apart from these, Sagada has many restaurants that have adapted to cater to a wide range of palates, including Western tastes. Pies, yogurts, and other dairy products are locally produced and have become part of the food experience in the area.

Conclusion

Sagada, with its blend of cultural depth and natural splendor, is a peaceful retreat with robust traditions that have been preserved for centuries. It invites travelers not just to witness but to immerse themselves in the beauty and heritage of this tranquil mountain haven.

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.