Friday, March 30, 2012

Backpacking Sagada: Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins

One of the must go to sites when in you're in Sagada is the Echo Valley which is located near the town proper. You should see this place whenever you are in Sagada because your trip will not be complete without the Echo Valley experience.

You can avail of a guided tour here from the Town Hall but since this tour is easy to do, you can opt te be more adventourous and go find your own trail. It is a five minute walk from the town hall. You will pass the St. Mary the Virgin Church and the newly installed zipline area before finding the path to Echo Valley.

Walking there, you will pass a cemetery where they usually bury their dead. We checked each tombstone there and found that not only the natives but also some foreign names were written there. Also, it was amazing to see some tombstones where the date of birth and death are only seasons they were born in. We found one born in Isdin Ogas (end of harvest) and died during Isdin Yabyab (early growth of the seedlings). The other is born in Isdin Tiagew (dry season) and died during Isdin Gamed (I couldn't find the meaning of this).
trail going to Echo Valley
Cemetery going to Echo Valley

Some of the tomb stones. Birth dates are the season they are born

You should be prepared for a light hiking up (and down) the hill. Don't worry about the path as it is established. You can find different ones going around. You just need to know where you've been to not to get lost if ever your navigation skills are not that good.

view at the Echo Valley

Near the cliffs where it is best to shout

rocks near the cliff
face this side for the best echo you will hear

At the back of the cemetery, where there are some more toomb stones is the Echo Valley. Facing the mountains is the best spot there. When yous hout really loud, you will hear a lot of echos of your voice. It was really fun and you should really try this and experience.

Watch and listen to this video of us with the echos:

After having fun with the echo, we went down the path where you can see the Hanging coffins from a distance. It is visible from there and we looked for a way to get closer. It was very fortunate that our navigation skills are good and we are the adventurous type that we found a trail going down. It wasn't easy looking for a good path down. There are some steep trails. This is also the trail going back where youc ame from, so just remeber where it is and you'll get back easily. We were lucky to find a less steep one and we followed it down leading us to the Hanging Coffins.

hanging coffins from the other side of the cliff

There are several coffins that are currently hangged at the lower portion of the cliff. There are some more on a higher location and you can see them from afar with a pair of good vision. The one on the lower portion are a mix of the old ones and some new ones. We later learned that the latest one to be hangged there are just a few months ago.

hanging coffins

This tradition is still being practiced by some of the people there. As our guide said, most of them practice Cristianity and Animism at the same time. They practice hanging the coffins at cliffs because they believe that it will bring them closer up.

Long ago, the coffins are made by hollowing a block of wood where the deceased is placed in a fetal positin because they believe that we came to this world in this position and must leave it the same way. Today, they use the usual coffins that we are familiar with. Some of the deceased are placed in chairs and are hanged there as well, this was according to the guide we had the next day. As you can see, there are some chairs hanging among the coffins. Good thing there are no dead bodies there or some skeleton hanging. Also, there are several burial sites found in Sagda, this is just one of them. These sites differ in the way of how the decieased died. They separate those who died of old age, by disease, the childrena and infants, etc. Unfortunately, since we don't have any guides, we don't know what category was burried here.

trail back

It was nice to have seen these kind of traditions people practice there. It makes me respect the people there as well as our rich culture. It makes me proud that in some way, I have learned the ways of the old and it makes me more proud to live in this country.

More on my Sagada Adventure:
Birthday Weekend at Sagada

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