A community in Sagada, a mountain province in Philippines.
Most visitors to the Philippines will learn something about the country’s Spanish and American colonial history; fewer will learn about the people who were here before. The mountains of Luzon are still inhabited by distinct indigenous ethnic groups known collectively as the Igorot, or “people of the mountains” (though today some prefer to use alternative terms). Despite hundreds of years of colonial rule, some indigenous peoples managed to maintain—and still continue—their traditional way of life. Sagada, a town in the Mountain Province, is a good place to witness this aspect of the Philippines. Many travelers check out the hanging coffins in Echo Valley, which are nailed to a cliffside and intended to bring the dead closer to heaven. But the real value of visiting Sagada is to interact with the Igorots and listen to their stories.