Hanging Coffins

Sagada, Mountain Province

The Hanging Coffins of Echo Valley in Sagada are picture-perfect sight more impressive than any horror fiction. Within the dark corners of the Lumiang Burial Cave lay a stack of coffins which enclose some of the oldest Igorot ancestors. A number of coffins, however, are placed in the highest corners of the cave walls. These coffins are suspended from the limestone cliffs via ropes and strong wires ...

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Local tourist guides assure visitors that the position of the coffins signify how much loved ones cared for the deceased. In other words, the higher the coffin, the more valued the deceased was. The coffins were made by hollowing out logs that are apparently smaller than the actual size of the dead. As a result, the body would assume a "fetal position"??"a preferred technique believed by ancient Igorots as a way to bring peace to the departed's soul.

Sagada hanging coffins are a gem that one can only reach through an exhausting trek. During the Pre-Hispanic era, relatives and loved ones of the deceased would travel the beaten path in order to place the coffin inside the Lumiang Cave. Prior to that, a 5-day pre-burial ritual was required during which the body was preserved using smoke.

The hanging coffins of Sagada may be awkwardly placed but for ancient Igorots, the bizarre tradition was meant to put their loved ones closer to heaven. Sadly, even dangerous heights have failed to stop some tourists from doing bad deeds. Reports said that the bones within the hanging coffins were stolen either as souvenirs or for other purposes God only knows.

Perhaps its about time for the local government to employ all efforts to preserve these unusual yet marvelous reminders of our past. Sagada hanging coffins are not just a tourist spot but also vanguards of history that highly deserve protection.

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