Here’s a video of Sagada courtesy of Luke Abeya Torrevillas. The video has some really great scenes of Sagada’s cloud-kissed mountains, a few scenes from the town market, and some footages of iSagadas celebrating at the A-7 House, one of the town’s several guest houses.
I’m sure you already know that Sagada is a fairly famous tourist destination. It is the third most popular tourist draw in the Cordilleras after Baguio City and Banaue. Not unexpectedly, tourism has been both a blessing and a curse to the town and its people.
The blessing would consist mainly of the income realized by tourist guides and businesses which cater to tourists. The opportunity for iSagada’s to have cross-cultural encounters with tourists would also be considered a blessing. These encounters, I believe, help locals to be a little more open-minded and to develop a little more sophistication despite the fact that they are from the boondocks. I can’t think of any other rural town in the country that would have that little bit of cosmopolitan feel that Sagada manages to have despite its remoteness and its small population ( about 11,000).
On the other hand, tourism has had some negative effects to the community. The obvious ones would be drugs and garbage. Some tourists go to Sagada precisely to look for marijuana. I’m sure they can easily find what they are looking for. Meanwhile, practically all tourists generate garbage while in town which they then leave behind when they head off for some other destination. The iSagadas, the ones left behind, would have to do the cleaning. Picture this: A tourist would throw her napkin into a river; it then heads downstream to where Sagada kids are learning how to swim. The actual picture may not be exactly as described but its occurrence is not impossible.
Garbage and drugs would be the obvious negative effects of tourism. A listing of the not so obvious ones would have to include the contributory effects of tourism in the erosion of the iSagadas indigenous lifeways. We hope to explore this further in a future post.