Sagada Travel Blog› entry 3 of 11 › view all entries
April 12th, 2003 – by: jilltrekker
9:00 p.m. Had breakfast again at Masferre, where we met Ann Ventura who was there on retreat so she could write a screenplay. Over her strawberries and cream (which she shared with us, yum!), she told us she was also visiting Echo Valley where they had scattered her Dadâ€™s ashes after his cremation.
10:00 a.m. We got a tip from Ann and moved from our expensive 800/night room to the dorm at St. Josephâ€™s, which cost only PhP 100/person! Turns out the â€śdormsâ€ť actually were rooms with single or double beds. We had to wait though for a room to be vacated, but it was worth it, since we got one with a wonderful view. Plus, we got a refund.
11:59 a.m. We were on our way to Sumaging Cave with our 18-year old guide, Mike. Somewhat happy we were being guided by someone who was my other brotherâ€™s namesake. Heâ€™d been a guide for 6 years, having apprenticed since he was 13. He also made pottery and friendship bracelets that were being sold at Tam-awan Village back in Baguio.
Some other interesting factoids he gave of Sagadans and their culture:
- The Bontoc-Sagada tribal warfare started out as a friendly head-hunting â€śgameâ€ť that became deadly serious because of a territorial dispute over a river that ran through the village.
- How the dead in the â€śhanging coffinsâ€ť perched in the cliffs got up there? Relatives used to bring up the body to the coffin (which was already placed first) by assembly line; and the more blood was spilled while it was being handled (eeew!), the better because that was a blessing.
- The unkind dead relativesâ€™ coffins were put in the darkest places. Spooky.
- Only 10% of Sagadans still practice the custom of burying in burial caves or hanging coffins, since many Sagadans have been Christianized since 1902. One canâ€™t be â€śput back to stoneâ€ť (cave or cliff) if one had a Christian name.
- It took 2 days to get the pine wood for the coffin, since it had to be taken from another mountain. The wood just had to be big enough to contain a corpse laid in fetal-position.
1:59 p.m. It took us exactly 1 hr. 15 mins to get through Sumaging Cave. We took lots of pictures. We used a different route from what I remembered from the last time I went through the cave. We began with The Curtain, and had to climb up a rope this time instead of rappelling downwards. I almost fell into a deep pool of water (nobody knew how deep it went) while trying to get across at one point, but managed to hang on to the rope. At the end of the route we took a dip in a natural pool of water within one of the cave chambers, which was exhilaratingly cold. We were so tired afterwards that we hitched a ride to the path that led to Lumiang Cave, where we saw a huge bayawak perched on the lid of one of the coffins.
4:00 p.m. Peds had booked a massage, so we only had an hour to kill. We decided to pass through St. Maryâ€™s Episcopal Church and take that path that led to Echo Valley. Finally, we found the path that led down to the valley floor. At the lookout, we shouted out; Peds simply with an â€śahhhâ€ť, while I mimicked George Emerson by screaming â€śFreedom, Truth, Beauty!â€ť Hehe. Down at the valley, we got a closer view of some hanging coffins.
5:00 p.m. We got back in time for Pedsâ€™ massage. While on my own, a guy approached me and started asking about things he could do in Sagada. So I helped him out a bit. He had come to Sagada with friends in a van heâ€™d driven all the way from Manila.
7:00 p.m. Dinner at Log Cabin, which was just as good as expected. The place was packed with foreign tourists, including a trio weâ€™d get to know better later on the trip. After we left, we began preparations for leaving the next day.
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