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Mar 5, 2013

An Amazing Up Close to the Hanging Coffins of Sagada

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada is a mirror to one's tradition way before the conquerors arrived.

Long time ago, even before the colonizers arrived in the Philippines, the people of the Cordillera have their own traditions and customs. They have their own hierarchy, attires, family connections, dances, rituals, ceremonies and burial tradition. One of the preserved way of entombing (not actually the same way as burial) is the so-called “hanging” of the caskets of their dead loved ones. And these Hanging Coffins testify that yes, even before the conquerors came, the people were already civilized.

Sagada travel video

Nothing Beats Plain Nature Adventure: Sagada

The Hanging Coffins can be found in one of the high rock formations down below the Echo Valley, which is at the back of the graveyard of Sagada. To reach the coffins, you have to start at the stone church, follow the signs going to Echo Valley. So after a few minutes of realizing things in the Echo Valley, I and my friend decided to explore more of the place and find this mysteriously cultural way of burying dead people.

Centuries ago, the people of Sagada are pagans. When we say pagans, they do not believe in church or Christ because first and foremost, they were not introduced to so-called deity. But we have to seclude the term ‘atheist’ because they have their own gods, but it is in a different form. Atheists do not believe in divinity, pagans believe there are gods in the form of nature.

Trekking in the Echo Valley on our way to the Hanging Coffins
Nature @ Echo Valley
 My Sagadan friend explained to me that people who died in Sagada were once preserved by mummification, compress their bones and fit the whole body in the small coffin. They then hang it in the high limestone formations. The coffins were hung because they do not want their dead loved ones to be buried underground, which then after will be walked on by several beings. They also believe that the rocks are gods themselves and that they are sacred. No wonder you have to respect the nature in Sagada once you visit it too.
Limestone rock formation

Up-close Hanging Coffins of Sagada

From the Echo Valley, there is a path that will lead you to the hanging coffins. You make sure though you are in the right track because there are also crossroads along the way. When I saw the up-close hanging coffins of Sagada, I was amazed that they indeed survived the time and up until now, it’s an artifact that make us realize that the old traditions were there long centuries ago.

The hanging coffins can be dated older than the oldest great grandparent that you had but some are recently put up. Maybe if the Americans did not go to this mountain village of Sagada, most of the rock formations there must have been used to hang hundreds of coffins. It’s not only in the Echo Valley that you will get to see the hanging coffins, there were also other places which my friend pointed out when we were in the Echo Valley.

A cave along the way to the hanging coffins.

Hanging Coffins, Sagada
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada were a mirror to one’s old tradition. The ones in the Echo Valley are the only coffins you can get to see up-close so take your time to get souvenir photos. BUT I remind you, just everywhere in that place is sacred, and inasmuch as possible, respect everything. Do not even touch the coffins (if you can reach them). It’s a living legend and we want the tradition to live more for the other generations to see.

I really love this particular Echo Valley Tour in Sagada. It didn’t have these white sand beaches or recreational matters but the heritage and culture I knew were enough for me to appreciate more of Sagada. This Echo Valley tour is the shortest and least tiring of all, because you can extend the Echo Valley tour to the Underground River a few meters from it. After the Echo Valley tour (excluding Underground River), we went up again to the graveyard and directed to the store near the church. We drank some soft drinks, took a short rest and went down the downtown. What follows next are the ‘stacked wooden coffins’ of the popular Lumiang Cave.


Photo op!

Shadow

Nothing Beats Plain Nature Adventure: Sagada Travel Series:
Part 8: The Echo Valley Tour: How to Reach the Hanging Coffins
Part 9: SOON.

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2 comments:

  1. Wow, I want to see this soon. Will go to Baguio on April. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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