Sagada: Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins

read the first part here:
Sagada: Echo Valley & Hanging Coffins, First Part

It’s not hard to guess why the Echo Valley is called so.. Many tourists come here and standing on some cliff they shout out loud to hear the echo.. I personally find it very rude! What would you think of a person shouting at cemetery for his own pleasure, to enjoy the echo?! While for most of the tourists Echo Valley is a place where they can have fun, for locals it is a sacred site where they used to “bury” their ancestors..

The people of Sagada prefer to bury the deceased in caves rather than in grounds.. They have practiced this ritual for more than 2,000 years.. Some caves can be found in Echo Valley.. Another form of burying the dead was to hang the coffin from cliffs..
I heard three different versions of why do the people hang the coffins.. One of the locals who later picked me up on the road said they hang the coffins because in this way the soul of the deceased is closer to Heaven.. The policemen in the police station where I spent a night gave me a similar explanation, although in a more interesting way.. They said it is based on their local beliefs.. If they bury the body in grounds, then it is easier for the Evil to steal the souls and take them down to Hell.. And when the coffins are hanged, it makes easier for the Go(o)d to reach the souls and take them to Heaven..

But the version of a historian I met in St. Louis University Museum in Baguio couple of days later was absolutely different.. And his theory is based on social life of the local community in Sagada.. He said that only those deceased were allowed to be hang who contributed a lot to the community.. In other words, those who did a lots of good things.. And the coffins with their corpse were hung for others to see and to remember them as highly respected people after they pass away..

I came as close to the coffins as I could.. Was I scared? Yeah, a little bit.. Imagine yourself standing under the hanging coffins with no one alive around.. Spooky.. I took only one photograph of the coffins and left.. I didn’t really want to disturb the deceased.. Because I still had to walk my way out of the valley.. And I didn’t want to be haunted being all alone in the Echo Valley, surrounded by trees and rocks and some invisible eyes observing me.. At least, that’s how I felt.. So I walked away.. Soon I got lost.. I took the wrong path and found myself at dead-end.. “How funny,” I thought.. And at that exact moment in the best Hollywood traditions a carabao (domesticated subspecies of water buffalo) bellowed……

I must have left an impression of a coward on you, didn’t I? To make the long story short, that carabao helped me to find my way as I followed to its moo, passed through some trees, and following the river soon got out of the Echo Valley..


15 thoughts on “Sagada: Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins

  1. Pingback: Sagada: Echo Valley & Hanging Coffins « On The Road

  2. What an interesting picture story. I Love echoes yet have never heard of Echo Valley. I would not have yelled. I appreciate you not wanting to disturb the resting souls by just snapping away with your camera.
    I enjoy your writing, I enjoy your pictures, and most of all, I enjoy your humility.
    Look forward to next time,

  3. How high above the ground were those coffins? The place does look quite secluded and spooky. Good thing you left immediately 😀

    The photographs are beautiful, Art. Specially the first one; it’s like in a dream!

    • I can’t say for sure how high the coffins are, 7 meters and higher probably..

      Thank You, Nadia! Pity, I only have the phone camera and I couldn’t take pics of a better quality..

  4. Reminding me of many English movies I watched. God! If I were you, I would probably never be able to walk out of the zone alone. The thoughts and feelings of being with a bunch of hanging corpses and the environment around, which must be calm and quiet, would probably paralyze me. 😐

    Good that you came back with no local corpses wanting to say you hi. 😀

    • Maybe I should have written it in the post that I strongly not recommend anyone to cross the Echo Valley alone?:)

      Actually, sometimes I had this feeling that some of them followed me with only purpose of protecting, because through all my travels there nothing had happened to me and was always safe.. Dunno.. I believe in spirits, anyway, and I believe if one doesn’t harm them, then they protect one.. Mutual respect, no?:)

  5. sweet dude, I just googled echo valley sagada and found your blog, it’s awesome. Going to do a backpacking trip for my 2nd time for 6 months, will be going here then 🙂

  6. Здравствуйте. Рассказ,безусловно, интересный. Жаль только нет подробного описания как Вы спустились почти вплотную к гробам.
    your story with photos is interesting. Pity there is not detailed description of route how to approach to the coffins as close as possible.

    • Там только одна тропа основная, которая начинается где-то от англиканской церкви и проходит мимо кладбища за церковью. Дальше просто идти по тропе, основная тропа выводит к пещере в конце, от нее есть ответвления, которые и ведут к гробам.

  7. Awesome! Destination Truth aired a paranormal investigation there tonite on SyFi channel so I googled it. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I was doing a research on hanging coffins of China and stumbled upon your blog. It was nice but I was kinda suprised you dared to venture to the valley on your own. Adventurous much?Anyway, nice blog!

    • Thank you! Well, being used to travel alone and having the background of wandering in the mountains and canyons in Armenia, I didn’t think there’s gonna be a problem for me to go down to the valley.

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