Sagada’s Hanging Coffins And St. Mary’s Church

Last Updated: April 12th, 2018

 

SAGADA

 

With its charming old-town beauty and impressive traditions, Sagada is arguably one of the best weekend destinations that will leave you wanting more. Absent are the giant retailers, fast food chains, and big hotels that typically move in once an idyllic location gains popularity–it’s just you, the hospitable people, and amazing landscapes.

Two of the most popular destinations in Sagada that dates back for hundreds of years include the now-famous Hanging Coffins and the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

 

The Hanging Coffins

A tradition that dates back for hundreds of years, the burial practice of the Igorots is one that fascinates first-time visitors of Sagada. The highland tribes of the Igorots followed a precise way of burying their loved ones, from placing the dead on a chair to breaking their joints before finally placing them in a fetal position in their respective coffins–and finally hanging them at the edge of the cliff. An impressive ritual that also includes hanging the chair used as seen in the photos below.

 

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

 

Although this burial practice been significantly reduced by the arrival of American missionaries in Sagada, it is still practiced in small numbers to this day.

Through a guided tour, tourists can now view the Hanging Coffins of Sagada at the end of a well-protected hiking path.

 

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

 

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

The chairs hanged together with the coffins

 

 

St. Mary’s Church

With 95% of its residents identifying themselves as Protestants, the Episcopal Church of St. Mary in Sagada stands as one of The Cordilleras’ most historical landmarks. The church was originally built in the early 1900s by a group of American missionaries led by Rev. Armitage Staunton who led the small Sagada community to convert to Christianity. In the first centenary of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, they described how Staunton “envisioned Sagada not only as a Christian community but also as a metropolis that would serve as a beacon to modern civilization for other communities in The Cordilleras. Thus was established a school, hospital, hydroelectric plant, printing press, and sawmill” among others.

 

St. Mary's Church Sagada

The facade of St. Mary’s Church

 

Although the original stone-built church was damaged during World War II, it was later restored while still following its original design. Today, the original bell that was used in its belfry is now on display as you enter the church grounds. The bell used in the original iteration of the church was built in China in 1921 and was used in one of the churches in the Ilocos region. It was later transported to Sagada using the wheels that are now on display to commemorate the centenary of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines.

 

St. Mary's Church Sagada

The Belfry

 

Built in China in 1921

Built in China in 1921

 

St. Mary's Church Sagada

The wheels used to power an old hydroelectric plant and were also used to transport the bell from Ilocos

 

St. Mary's Church Sagada

St. Mary's Church Sagada

 

The Manila Project

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