Monday, March 5, 2007

Sagada Mission Compound: Calvary Hill Cemetery

WHERE: Sagada, Mountain Province

DATE OF TRAVEL: March 03, 2007

1) Because this is where most locals bury their dead and they are buried non-randomly, according to their type of death.
2) Because this cemetery also houses Sagada’s adopted son and historian, Dr. William Henry Scott. Try to look for his tombstone!:)

3) Because this is the only cemetery we saw where a family of cattle (or more!!) just roam around and bask in the sun while lying down on the tombstones.:P

Calvary Hill is the newer version of the Sagadans' burial site. For about a thousand years or more, burial sites were not six feet underground but rather high up on the cliffs of caves because of the belief that it would be easier to leave your coffin and reach "heaven" by being placed there. These were called Hanging Coffins and may still be seen today. While it is claimed that the last coffin to be hanged was just in 2003, Calvary Hill Cemetery also started becoming an option way before that time. However, while at first glance it looks like just a typical cemetery, it is unusual in the sense that people are buried not according to the "lot" bought beforehand but according to their type of death. Sagadans believe that the spirits of their deceased are the highest forms of the supernatural. Therefore, they are very particular where they bury them. There are different sites for different kinds of death such as childbirth, suicide, dying unmarried, children, etc. Those who died from suicide for example are buried within the deepest parts of Echo Valley (very near Calvary Hill) to keep them from coming out of their coffins and haunting those they have left behind.

It is also here that Sagada's "adopted son" Dr. William Henry Scott is buried. Dr. Scott was an anthropologist slash historian who spent most of his scholar life studying the people of the Cordillera and uncovering facts about Prehispanic Philippines. He wrote books like A Sagada Reader, Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society, Discovery of the Igorots, Chips, Who are you Filipino Youth?, Ilocano Responses to American Aggression, Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino and Slavery in the Spanish Philippines. He is most popular for debunking the Kalantiaw legend in his dissertation Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History in 1968. Prior to his dissertation, Kalantiaw was thought to be actual history. Because of his work, the invented Kalantiaw legend is no longer part of standards history texts in the Philippines. His tombstone, as you can see from our picture, is nothing spectacular nor outstanding so it might be a little difficult finding him.

For details on Manila-Sagada routes and schedule, kindly click on this.

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