I felt the need to have a little “soul searching” these past few weeks. Nawawala kasi sya, char! Haha. But kidding aside, I was feeling depressed lately and I was bitterly craving for the healing powers of mother nature. Also, we all deserve a break sometimes especially now that we are in the last quarter of the year.
I was really happy when my friend invited me to join this Banaue x Sagada x Baguio escapade because aside from my life-long dream of seeing the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, it was also my first time to bond with some of our boxing-mates.
Day 0. 26 September 2019 (Thursday).
#theworkingdead is my official hashtag every last quarter of the year. Since days go faster during this time, I didn’t realize that I haven’t packed my bags yet for the trip. Still, I decided to work overtime as I will be gone for a whole day (Friday). I was already rushing to get home and just my (bad) luck, I left my house keys sooooo I had to return to get it back. SABAW. Huhu~
We left elbi at 10:30 PM and arrived in Banaue around 9 AM. We had a quick stop-over at a souvenir area near the Banaue landmark to streeeeeetch, look around and do some mandatory photo ops. The weather was a bit cloudy, but Mr. Sun showed himself from time to time to allow us to see the marvelous work of our Creator. We had another stop over at the viewing deck of the Banaue Rice Terraces.
Day 1. 27 September 2019 (Friday).
I remember Banaue Rice Terraces being one of the topics during the PAS Conference in Dumaguete last year. Our speaker emphasized the Ifugaos’ deep sense of community and remarkable “leadership style” of the
ancient (yes, ancient. Di ko na alam kasi sa panahon ngayon. Chaaaar!!!) Filipinos being visionary. It’s interesting because the terraces were built by freemen, not by slaves, and there is no single ruler who took the credit. Sustenance and future generations were put into consideration in building the terraces. O diba nakikinig ako sa discussion!!!
Anyway, we went on with our journey and reached Sagada (approximately) two more hours after. We immediately checked in at Shagay Inn to take some rest and freshen up before we officially began our Sagada adventure.
By the way, I also met my first canine friend, Sushi. This is not her real name of course haha!
First things first!!! The local government requires tourists to have a guide when exploring Sagada. In our case, it was the travel agency who arranged the tour and coordinated with our local guides: Kuyas Carlos and Rey. If you’re doing the tour yourself, better to drop by the Tourism Office first as advised by other blogs! 🙂
We had our lunch at a nearby establishment and started our journey around 2 PM. Our first stop was the Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins. It took about a 45-minute trek to finally see the iconic burial site that reflects the indigenous tribe’s beliefs and customs.
For them, being buried underground would seem to be being trapped in darkness, suffocating, and would appear like they were carrying the burdens of the earth (figuratively din ha).
There are two types of coffins: the long and the short coffin. The long coffin carries the cadaver that is in lying position while the short coffin carries the one in fetal position. The cadaver would be left lying (or sitting) at his/her home for a few days before he/she is finally put to rest. Until he is placed inside the coffin, the cadaver is not yet considered as dead.
Being in a lying position is like floating in the air; while for the fetal position, they believed that souls should leave the earth the same way that they entered it. Whichever position the dead would be buried is totally upon the request of the person. By the way, not everyone can be buried the traditional way. There are a few requirements, one of which is the person should die of natural causes. Syempre yung iba hindi ko na tanda. Huhu sareeh~
During the wake, a number of chicken would be butchered as part of the ritual. Then in the morning of the ‘burial’, men will bring with them the empty coffin and temporary ladder (maybe to be used in the burial?). And at 1 PM, the burial time, that’s the time when they remove the dead body from his/her bed or chair, and wrap it in white cloth. The relatives carry the coffin first, and it is believed that any fluid coming from the dead body is a blessing: a sign of long and good life. People from the community would also carry/grab the coffin after the relatives’ turn to have their share of the blessing. The women and children doesn’t take part in the burial and are just left in Echo Valley to watch.
After letting the rain pass, we went to have a short visit at the St. Mary the Virgin church, an Anglican church that is located near the Echo Valley. I was a bit tired from the trek and totally distracted (by Beni‘s doppleganger) that I wasn’t able to hear Kuya Carlos’ background information about the church. We were also running out of time as it’s already about 4 PM and we still have to go to Sumaguing Cave.
Read part 2 here.
List of expenses:
Tour – Php 3, 850 ((agency) inclusive of van, accommodation)
Tour guide (1st day) – Php 260/pax (Sumaguing Cave + Echo Valley & Hanging Coffins entrance and environmental fee)
Breakfast – Php 200 (Jollibee, Nueva Vizcaya)
Lunch – Php 190
Total (first day) – Php 4,500