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