Witnessing the Senga in Sagada: Igorot’s Bloody Ritual
Sagada has been a long dream destination for me. Every travel blogger I know raves it and I couldn’t agree more. Top on the list of activities is waiting for sunrise at Mt.Kiltepan. Although I’m not a fan of the mountains (I’m a beach boy) I don’t have a choice but to wake up early to walk with my generous hosts, Kuya Andrew and Ate Safe, owners of Salt And Pepper Restaurant. It was a cloudy morning and before we even reach the viewpoint, we went back to town because they are sure that there will be no sunrise at Kiltepan that day. Going back we bought raisin bread which we paired with a cup of hot coffee just perfect to start the chilly morning at Sagada. For a moment I stopped and thank God for friends I met along the way who have been of much help. This trip won’t be possible for the generosity and goodness of the people I met along the way. I would be biased but I would consider the people from the provinces especially those who belong to the tribes are the most hospitable.
I wanted to see the famous hanging coffins today but as I was on way to the coffins, I saw Kirky again on his way to his grandmother’s place. I asked why and he told me that there is a Senga happening that day. Senga is a family ritual to drive away or appease spirits causing illness. In the case of what I witnessed, an old family member is about to die. So they are doing a senga as a prayer to God for the well-being of their grandmother and to ask God as to what is His will upon the her life. I told him that instead of going to the hanging coffins, I wanted to witness that kind of tradition. I’m just so lucky that Kirky brought me with him and even allowed me to document the ritual. So while the elders continue to chant their prayers and songs, some of the young men congregated inside the kitchen drinking gin, of course I was in action- drinking then eating what they just butchered earlier. After the ceremony I was talking to the relatives and I gave them much appreciation for continuing that kind of tradition. I believe this kind of tradition dates back from the time of our early fathers who are animists, where sacrifice in an integral part of their worship.
Part of the Senga ceremony is the taking pig’s hair and chicken’s feather thru fire.
I went back still tipsy from the drinking session and with me almost a kilo of pork as my portion to bring home, I actually don’t want to get my portion but the family insisted that I should get one. I gave it to my host family when I went back at Salt and Pepper.
It was a right decision to forgo visiting the hanging coffins to witness this truly Filipino heritage. Igorot, be proud!
That same day, a blog reader joins my journey. Jelly was supposed to be at Calaguas but because her friend wasn’t available she just thought it would be better to join me as I explore Sagada. She came just as I and new found friends are about to drink some coffee at the balcony of Salt and Pepper. After coffee, I helped her find a cheap place to stay and told her she would save a lot of money if she learns some of my skills in backpacking. After she booked the room, we roamed around town until it was getting dark so we ended the day at the famous Lemon Pie House. I ordered chicken curry and Jell tasted their Lemon Pie.
Tomorrow we will join our new friends and check out some caves.
Route: Sagada, Mt. Province
Expenses for Today: Php 130
130- chicken curry
You can read more about Senga here: Sagada’s Senga