Thursday, May 30, 2013

Photos from the Mountain Town of Sagada in the Philippine Cordilleras

Sagada is a small town in Mountain Province, one of the six provinces making up the Philippine Cordilleras. The town sits at an elevation of about 1,500 meters above sea level. It has become a very popular tourist destination over the last few years because of the relative respite it offers from the unbearable heat of the coastal areas of the Philippines. More importantly, however, it has become popular because of the wide range of outdoor activities that can be done here. There's trekking, rafting, spelunking and many others. It's certainly what we endured dangerous roads and chicken buses to come here for.

I would like to tell you that we did all those activities and enjoyed it, but that would be a stretch. As we are wont to do, we explored whatever it is in Sagada we could explore in the one day on our own. We walked, sometimes scrambled down mounds of earth, got up, got lost, climbed up, had lunch, and continued walking. We may not have seen whatever it is that drew and continue to draw people to Sagada, but I was happy and grateful to just be there. Sometimes that is enough.

Below you will find a few snapshots of what we saw and experienced during our full day of walking around the mountain town of Sagada in the Philippine Cordilleras.

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Found in the center of town is the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. It is owned by the Episcopal Church of the Philippines as majority of the locals here are Protestants, in contrast to the overwhelming number of Catholics in the Philippines.

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
The rather subtle yet well designed interiors of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Sagada. It was the Americans who actually brought Protestantism to the Philippine Cordilleras. The Catholic Spaniards, who ruled over the Philippines for more than 300 years, did not dare climb these treacherous mountains.

Sagada Cemetery, Philippine Cordilleras
Located on a hill behind the Church of St. Mary the Virgin is the Sagada Anglican Cemetery. Every November 1st, All Saints Day to Catholics, locals who are mostly from the Kankanaey ethnic group observe the Panag-apoy ritual here. Around the graves, locals light up torches and bonfires to guide the souls of the dead through the night.

Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Situated within Echo Valley are the now famous hanging coffins of Sagada. Locals believe that by hanging the remains of the departed on the side of cliffs, their souls become closer to heaven.

Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
It is quite fascinating the height at which they hang the coffins here in Sagada.
That's a sheer cliff face about 15 to 18 meters high maybe.


Echo Valley, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Close to the site of the hanging coffins, we found a walking trail through Echo Valley. We followed it and took a rest inside the opening of a cave which looks up towards the hill.

Echo Valley, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
At some point in the trail through the Echo Valley, we see a fence. So what are we to do? Jump it, of course. There we found a dried up rocky stream and limestone karst cliff faces, characteristic of many parts of Sagada.

Echo Valley, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
The trail we followed down in the Echo Valley took us to this spring. We looked around but the marked path disappears from here. Not tempting our fates, we decided to turn back.

Echo Valley, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Climbing back up the hill from Echo Valley, we get views of a section of the town of Sagada.

Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Flowers hang at the entrance of a restaurant in Sagada. I would like to tell you the name of this restaurant we had lunch in but the food was so-so. It's along the main road to Bontoc, near the start of the dirt path leading to Kiltepan Peak.

Clubhouse Sandwich, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
The clubhouse sandwich, I was told, was good enough in this restaurant. I can tell you the spaghetti and the salad, though, needs a little more inspiration.

View from Kiltepan Peak, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Kiltepan Peak is a popular spot for sunrise viewing in Sagada. We saved our sunrise viewing for another day and another trip. It is a little difficult to wake up at 4 a.m. in the comfortably cool climate of Sagada, as you will understand.

View from Kiltepan Peak, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Terraces of rice and crops can be seen at the base of the valley viewed from Kiltepan Peak.

Kiltepan Peak, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
Legs and feet were tired from walking all day but the views both in Echo Valley and here at Kiltepan Peak made it worth the pain.


What are your favorite mountain towns? Where in the world are they located?


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