Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Hanging Coffins at Sagada Echo Valley

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My boyfriend thought it was "Eco-Valley", an ecological park of some sort. So imagine his surprise when all he saw was limestones and coffins. lol Well, it was called the Echo Valley because of the echo that you create when you shout. Our guide said that it was because of the limestone in the area. I'm not really sure about this because I thought we can also create echoes in mountains with no limestone. heheh

The not-so-ordinary practice of hanging coffins is part of the Igorots' tradition. Here are some information  that we've learned from our tour guide, Ezra:
  • Only Igorots who died a natural death are allowed to be put inside the hanging coffins.
  • Babies and those who died due to ailments are not allowed to be put in hanging coffins because it is believed by the Igorots that by doing so will bring them bad luck.
  • The hanging coffins are rather small and an average person wouldn't fit inside. Well, as part of the tradition, the deceased body should go back to the fetus-like position just like how they came into this world. 
  • Before putting the body inside the coffin, they wrap it with a blanket and pass it overhead like a ball. Whoever gets blood drops while the corpse is being passed is said to have good luck in life.
  • The coffin is hung first before placing the corpse inside it.
  • One of the mysteries that really bogged me about these hanging coffins is how the natives hang them so high up in the sides of the mountains. What makes it even more impossible to imagine is there are no mechanical tools used in the process. According to Ezra, our guide, the coffins are hanged first - empty. After the coffin is secured and positioned, the natives will then place the body inside. The explanation is acceptable if you look at the photo above but what about the other one we saw that's  hanging like 50 meters above the ground on another cliff? Perhaps they used a really tall ladder or they've found a trail on how to get there at the top.

That's all I can remember for now. I'll ask our tour guide for more information when I get to catch him online.

Anyway, the Echo Valley is not far from the Sagada town proper. You just need to walk a bit and trek to the place where you can see the coffins up close. It was kind of weird to see those wooden coffins hanged at the mountain sides. Not really creepy, just weird.

It rained in the morning so the trek was slippery when we got there. After the tour, we were all muddy, sweaty and wet already. lol But it was all worth the adventure and the experience. No need to wear hiking or trekking gears actually. Slippers will do. :D

Meeting another group along the way made our Echo Valley tour more fun. Actually, they made our whole Sagada trip more fun and memorable. ;)

That's all for now about our Sagada trip. Merry Christmas everyone! :)


I would love to see those hanging coffin. I hope to visit Sagada too.

Wow, I hope to go there someday, too.

I wonder if any of the corpses fall when there are typhoons or due to wear and tear. Just thinking out loud. I hope that doesn't happen. I find Sagada very interesting to visit from my friends stories and from blogs I read but I hate roughing it. So I'm content reading about it.

That's interesting. Last November my officemates been asking me to go with them to Sagada but I refused. Maybe next time, I'll go hehe

Hi, I think we've raised that question during the tour too. But I forgot the answer. heheh Thanks for asking though. I'll update this post as soon as I've asked our tour guide about it. :)

i hope they preserve it for the next generation. it's history.

Great information. But just by thinking of seeing it hanging there really gives me goose bumps. But it's nice that our people are still doing this for the sake of history and heritage.'

CE 12/18

it must be awesome to see those coffins for real while your tour guide was explaining to you the stories you shared to us. some of my friends have been there and they all shared their fabulous experience usually with the climate.

merry christmas too, maribeth =)

Thank you for taking the time to learn about the the practice of hanging coffins. :) I long to spend a lot of time in Sagada, the place of my grandparents' birth. Happy New Year!

I love Sagada. I have yet to write blog posts of my trip last November. From what I remember, the corpse is hoisted on a chair and placed in the coffin.

Hi Kat. Yeah I forgot about the chair.hahah

I wish I can go a tour in this place too.

Great post. Keep on posting about your trips. I love reading them because it is so informative. Happy New Year.

This is very interesting. I've learned from your post! Thanks for sharing. It's nice to know that some of our natives still kept their tradition up to present :)

The Sagada hanging coffins are a must-see but I heard heartless tourists have stolen some of the bones inside them.Nevertheless, this is one of my dream destinations. Thanks for sharing the trivia. I also shared it to my readers.

@FilipiKnow Thanks for stopping by my blog. :) I'll sure visit that post of yours. Anyway, yes, the hanging coffins are a must-see. But the story behind those coffins are even more interesting and my respect for the tribe has even lifted.

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