The Hanging Coffins Of Sagada

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High above the ground, surrounded by eerie-looking cliffs and lush greenery, hang the coffins of Sagada.


This little sleepy town is known for the peculiar way they ‘burry’ the dead. Here, when a loved one passes away they don’t simply, lets for argument sake say ‘bury’, or cremate them, the dead here are hung. This is so as to make sure their spirits can roam free and are not trapped underground for all eternity.

We arrived in Sagada on a rainy afternoon and sat in a travellers’ favourite, the Yoghurt House playing cards, waiting for the rain to pass.

Fog hung over the mountains like a thick blanket, giving the town an unnerving look and making it almost impossible to venture down into the Echo Valley to visit the ancient site.

Against the locals advice, who told us that the valley was too slippery to travel down in, we left for the coffins as we only had the day there and made our way to the gorge. On the way, we passed a little graveyard where the locals are buried nowadays. As expected, this place did not have the same imposing effect of being hung meters above ground on a cliff side but will have to do for most of the villagers.

We skidded our way down the narrow path to the burial site. Here eight odd coffins were hung from the cliff side using thick metal chains, bolted with large rusty nails, looking eerie against the mountainous backdrop. Due to the variety in size and age of people, there were coffins in all shapes and sizes. From kids to village elders, in ancient times, everyone here was given the same ‘burial’, but times have changed and these days it is reserved for a lucky few who enjoy a high status in society.

The site has become somewhat of a ‘major’ tourist attraction, but this is still relevant as The Philippines is one of SE Asia’s most unexplored destinations. The country is rich in history, stunning nature, incredibly polite and helpful people and is well worth a visit. If it’s for Coron, the island that has been voted SE Asia’s most stunning island, Boracay, the whitest beach you will ever see, the Chocolate Mountains of Bohol, swimming with Whale Sharks in Cebu (do your research to ensure sustainable practice), the stunning Rice Terraces of Batad, Banaue and surroundings, and finally, The Hanging Coffins of Sagada, the country has it all. The only thing missing is an enticing cuisine, but when stuffing your face with fresh young coconuts on a beach of one of the over 7000 islands, one really can’t complain.

Click HERE to read more about the cuisine of The Philippines, the country that celebrates Christmas for a hundred days a year.

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