About six hours by bus (twice this amount of time in the
wet season) from the Luzon island town of Banaue, north
of Manila, the people of Sagada have devised a unique
burial ritual involving the placement of dead relatives into
caves after carefully preparing a hollowed out log.
These coffins are carved by the elderly before they die; if
they are too ill or weak their son or other close relative
will do it for them. This ritual involves pushing the bodies
into the tight spaces of the coffins, and often bones are
cracked and broken as the process is completed.
After the deceased are put inside these coffins they are then
brought to caves high in the cliffs where they join the coffins
of other ancestors. The Segada people prefer to be buried
in the cliffs than to be buried in the ground and have been
doing this for more than 2,000 years.
In some caves hundreds of coffins are lined up, and unfortunately
tourists are unregulated in this area, some have even taken
some of the bones as souvenirs. If you do visit these caves,
make sure you get a guide as some of the caves are hard to
find and the roads can be tricky to navigate.