When people think of the Philippines, they instantly imagine white sand beaches, blue waters, and coconut trees. However, Philippines has so much more to offer than just beautiful and world-famous beaches. With 7,107 islands, there are just way more places to explore in this country. If you are looking for a different adventure, why not head north of Manila and visit Sagada’s Hanging Coffins?
Sagada is near and dear to my heart because my grandfather was born and raised there. When I was little, my family and relatives will go on frequent trips there especially during the summer. One of the main reasons we go is not only to visit the place but to get to know more of our relatives that still live there and of course, my great grandmother who lived up until she was about 105 years old. She passed away in 2015. 🙁
Anyways, back then, there were only a few tourists. Now, due to movies being filmed in Sagada, more and more people are visiting the place.
Where can I find Sagada’s Hanging Coffins?
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada is located at the Echo Valley. Sagada is a town in Mountain Province in the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
How to get there?
There are many ways and routes to get to Sagada from Manila. One of the most popular ways is to get on a bus from Manila to Baguio. Two of the biggest bus companies you can take is the Victory Liner bus or the Five Star bus. You can take a bus from Pasay station (closest to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport) or at the Cubao station in Quezon City. Once you arrive in Baguio City in Benguet, you must make your way to the Dangwa bus station where you will then take a bus to Sagada. Fun fact: Baguio City is known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines! The first leg of the trip which is Manila to Baguio may take anywhere from six to eight hours and the second leg of the trip may take about six to seven hours. The other two options for taking the bus is the Manila-Banaue-Sagada or the Manila-Bontoc-Sagada route. If you decide to take the Banaue route, you will get to see the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. If you take the Bontoc route, you will get to see Mountain Province’s capital and from Bontoc, it will only be about 45 minutes to Sagada. However, Manila to Bontoc will approximately be a 12-hour bus ride.
Another alternative is to rent a van to yourself. This is a more convenient and comfortable option as you may choose to stop at any time you like.
Once you arrive in Sagada, you can ask the locals how to get to the Echo Valley to see the Hanging Coffins or you can also hire a tour guide to take you there.
Why do they put their coffins on mountain cliffs?
According to my uncle who also served as our tour guide, it was believed that putting the coffins way up in the mountains makes it easier for the souls to get to heaven. The higher they are to the heavens, the easier the journey will be for them.
Where else do they bury their dead?
Other coffins were buried in caves like the Lumiang Burial Cave which you can also visit. Local’s tip: Don’t ever take anything from the burial caves or hanging coffins as a souvenir. It is disrespectful.
One story my uncle told me is that, a group of travelers took a skeleton out of the burial cave and put it in their van. When they tried to start the van, it won’t start no matter what they try to do to fix it. Eventually, they decided to bring back the skeleton to its proper place and that was the only time the vehicle started running. Whether or not this story is true, please respect the deceased and leave them alone.
Nowadays, the dead are also now being buried in a cemetery just a short walk from St. Mary’s Anglican Church.
Why are their coffins short?
It was the tradition of the people of Mountain Province to place a corpse in a fetal position. According to my relatives who were born and raised in Sagada, it was because a person should leave this world in the same position he or she entered it. Other traditions I remember them telling me is that a deceased family member will be put on a chair and rituals will be performed.
Do they still practice these traditions now?
There may be a few people from Sagada who may still be practicing these traditions but based on what I have observed, they are now more open to the modern ways of burying the dead.
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Have you been to the Hanging Coffins in Sagada? How was it? Let us know below!