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Memories of Sagada

Scenic part of Sagada

All backpackers who’ve gone up to Sagada dreams of coming back. And I’m one of them. It was an enchanting experience that I will not soon forget. Down in our inner cities we’ve lost the understanding and appreciation for both natural and ancestral inheritance. I think I’m once again appreciative of the grandeur of nature and its boundless landscapes. Thanks to Sagada.

Sagada had impressed on me that heritage goes beyond the architectural work of wonderful forms and beautiful arts that expressed our emotions. Our tribal ancestors way of life is also our heritage. This part of our peoples story deserves to be recognized as an important part of our historical strata.

I consider my journey a spiritual one. I was not on a look out for history or architectural marvels this time. Being here made me realize how much I really don’t need.

The long travel through the scenic, dreamy mountainous areas of the north made me contemplate on the balance that needs to be struck between progress and environment. Its amazing how a trip like this can make you think about these things.

Local and foreign tourist are drawn to the beauty and spirit of Sagada. Some of them came and never left. Why leave when you’re surrounded with nature and tranquility- Its a simple life up here. The isolation and distance makes you feel as if you have just been dropped off the map. Even the sky at night looks remarkably different!

I now understand why our tribal ancestors believe that the gods dwell in nature. For them its “the” source that must be respected for it provides us with life nourishing gifts. When you take care of it – it sustains you. They appreciate nature in a way that’s more profound. We’ll never be like them. The system that drives our economy needs to dominate and milk it bone dry. Parasites destroying the host. Take mining for example. This business has caused nothing but destruction of both nature and lives. The only reason our leader stands by these corporations is because there’s money to be made. The business people that runs these operations claims to provide livelihood to local communities but if you look closer these communities remains, or becomes even more, impoverished. No mining town has ever been developed. And after all the mining stops people are left with nothing.

The English speaking, mild mannered locals are some of the nicest souls you’ll ever meet. Their spiritual beliefs, now infused with Christianism is just as fascinating. Some old people still request from their Christianized children to be laid to rest in the traditional way – by having their coffin hang on the lime stone hills. They believe that this makes them closer to the gods. In the cemetery they would burn firewood on top of their live ones graves to provide them warm comfort.

The journey was a special moment for me personally for reasons that I would no longer mention here.

I took some pictures of this trip.

They’ll tell the story better than my words.

Stairways to heaven.

There are several caves that can be explored here. The most popular is Lumiang which is connected to Sumaging.

Tall trees that look like hundreds of flag poles.

Just green

Ancient burial adorned with lizard carvings

Ancient burial site of Lumiang. What appears to be tree logs are coffins deposited in this cave.

Lime hills and hanging coffins in Sugong.

Cabbage growing is popular here because of the favorable climate. During the christmas season they experience below zero temperature here that damaged these crops.

A nice little falls called Bokong.

Far from home.151 km from Baguio, more than 400 km from Manila.

Homes around the slope

Rice terraces in situate called Kapay-Aw

They call this place the Echo Valley because here you can hear the winds hitting the valley. A few kilometers from here is the Marlboro Country where wild horses can still be found (according to locals, there’s probably less than five remaining)

Where traditional fabric is made into useful modern stuff

Navales Bakeshop would give the popular bakeries back home a run for their money. One of the legacies of the Protestant missions are the breads and fruit spreads – the finest in the country!

A simple breakfast. Naturally violet rice.

The most popular man made structure of Sagada. This is the Anglican church of St. Mary the Virgin

May 2011

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