The Secret of Ganduyan: The Pride of Mountain Province

Ask anyone from the Philippines or anyone who has travelled around this country, and I can guarantee that only the rare and observant individuals know of the beautiful town of Ganduyan. Before you even try to search it on Google, there really isn’t any information that is easily attainable on Wikipedia. Ganduyan is a municipality discovered only by those who visit it and have the curiosity to ask how it has become what it is now. Let’s just say, it is a town that’ll make you wish of retiring in the Philippines!

Here’s my first hint. Ganduyan is the beautiful town known as the pride of Mountain Province.It is the most culturally preserved town in the Cordillera region of Luzon. The locals have not only preserved their traditions that date back hundreds of years, but according to the Ganduyan Museum, the elders of Ganduyan were part of the only tribe in the Cordilleras that managed to defeat all intruders who tried to take over their land. And for further proof of these triumphs, they overcame these outsiders who had rifles and guns, with just hand crafted weapons and spears. Now that’s a true victory! Any guesses yet?

Ganduyan is not purposely kept a secret, but it is the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. Ganduyan is actually the traditional Kankanaey term for the beautiful town of Sagada. The name Sagada came from an old story told by local elders. The tale goes that there were these two explorers who went to the town and asked a local farmer what the local name of the town was. This local farmer was carrying traditional Filipino brooms, or ‘Sagad’ as they call it in the local dialect of Ilokano, and he thought these foreigners were asking what he was holding. So, the farmer responded with ‘SAGAD’. The explorers from then on assumed the name of the town was Sagada, and the rest was history.

Sagada or Ganduyan is a beautiful town filled with untouched traditions and cultures that can only be seen in the Cordillera regions of Luzon. It is specifically known for its historical burial tradition it shares with only a few cultures in China and Indonesia – theHanging Coffins. This tradition of hanging coffins on the side of the mountains was believed to be more in-tune with giving back to Mother Nature. They have been preserved for hundreds of years and is really a fascinating site to see.

Sagada is so serene and lovely in its own charming way. It is a small town where locals not only make the most of their beautiful agriculture and land, but they also respect it and take care of it dearly. Because of this, everything you can and will eat when in Sagada is organic, tasty and cheap – from their large choices of fresh vegetables to their appetizing red and black rice, and let’s not forget their delicious coffee! If you want low cost retirement, Philippines has Sagada to offer. This town in the mountains is really an easy choice to take.

If there is anything I love about exploring new places, it is discovering new things that you can’t see anywhere else in the world. Sagada’s unique delicacies such as ‘Pinikpikan’ and their traditions, including the different ways they show their respect to their land, are really something anyone should get the chance to experience.

From their Hanging Coffins, to their many discovered and undiscovered underground caves, and the beautiful town itself, Sagada, or may I say, Ganduyan, is one travel-goal I could recommend to anyone who wants to experience truly preserved traditions and a culture that dates back hundreds of years. Like I said, it’ll make you consider retiring in the Philippines.

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