Umayatay Wakgat mo

SAGADA, Mountain Province – ‘Umayatay Wakgat mo!’ the first Kankana-ey phrase I’ve learned which means ‘Good Morning’.
The Kankana-eys are one of the six Cordilleran or Igorot ethnic groups. Most of them can be found in Western Mountain Province, Some are located in Southern Ilocos Sur and Northern Benguet.

The term ‘Kankana-ey‘ came from the languages which they speak. There are many kinds of dialects that the Kankana-eys use but it is still the same. The dialects only differ only in intonation, some words and applications.

The Kankana-ey built sloping terraces to maximize farm space in the rugged terrain of the Cordilleras like most Igorot ethnic groups. Kankana-eys of Western Mountain Province from the municipalities of Sagada and Besao identify themselves as part of a tribe called Applai.
It’s a very peaceful village located in the mountains of northern Philippines. For the past decade, people from different countries have visited it to experience the local culture and the wonderful sites of nature.

The Kankana-ey houses are built like the other houses of the Igorots which also reflect their social status.There were instances that men sleep separated with the women. Only men are allow to sleep in the room of the ritual hall. Council of elders are those who provides delinquent penalties.
Today, Most of Kankana-ey in Sagada are Anglicans. Making Sagada the only Christian-town not dominated by Roman Catholics. They’re also fluent in English than Tagalog I must say.

Sagada stands about 1,500 meters above sea level in the heart of Cordillera Mountain Range but you will be surprise with the limestones that are similar with those you can see in the shores of Palawan. 

It is said that Luzon was submerged from the ocean billion years ago. Fossils of sea shells and starfish can be found inside the caves of Lumiang and Sumaging.

We were so lucky, the moment we got to Sagada, it was their First Etag Festival. It was staged its first Etag Festival last January 29 to February 2, 2011. The Etag Festival is still part of government’s projects of strengthening tourism in the countryside and improving the town’s economy via tourism. “Etag” is smoked mountain ham, a dish is also an embodiment of Sagada culture. Etag is prepared by choosing the best cut of pork meat, then adding a generous amount of salt. It is smoked for at least 30 minutes to three hours for two weeks, using varieties of red wood or oak. After smoking, it is stored in clay pots and is eaten as is or could be added to other dishes.

Occupying territories rich in natural resources, indigenous peoples in the Philippines like the Kankana-ey continue to be uprooted from their land as a result of changes brought by foreign and government initiated projects like mining, logging and dams.

Many Kankana-ey have embraced and believe they have benefited from the changes that took place in theirs communities, I just wish that they preserve their own rich culture and values for the next generation to come. I say, No to mining in Cordillera!