Image above: The next generation learning to play the gangsa!

Last week, after a very productive Friends of ENCA/Benguet Tivangdal board meeting, during which we reviewed drawings and costing’s for the repairs of the Nipa Huts at ENCA and introduced Karen Hizola our new Baguio Based Program Manager (more about her soon). I headed North to Sagada for a dear friends native wedding.

It is always wonderful to return to Sagada a beautiful mountain town about 6 hours north of Tublay. Sagada is known for their amazing natural caves, peaceful mountains, and delicious yogurt at the world famous Yogurt House. Siegird, a local potter and environmental activist, has been a dear friend since my early Peace Corps days. She and her husband Steve, an RPCV from the 70’s (that has never left the Philippines), had a civil marriage seven years ago and have two beautiful boys Chico (6) and David (almost one year).

In Sagada, it is very important and as Siegird put it “part of their obligation” to host a native wedding. This is an opportunity for extended friends and relatives and most importantly the entire town of Sagada to celebrate the marriage and give their blessing and congratulations in the form of financial contribution. This also means the entire town comes together to help in the elaborate preparations of feeding literally 1,000’s of people. Sigerid and Steve purchased and extended relatives and community member’s butchered 14 pigs and 1 carabao (native water buffalo) for the party the lasted four days!

As I sat with women from all over the community (who each brought a bowl and knife to help chop the copious amounts of veggies it takes to feed this many people), chatted with the beautiful Lola’s who’s weathered faces tell a story that does not need words, and enjoyed the sound of the Gangsa (native gong music) till literally the wee hours of the morning I was struck with the true community that Sagada demonstrated to pull off this beautiful gathering. Loved ones near and far gathered to honor Siegrid and Steve as tradition has done for 100’s of years. Indeed I am blessed to have been a small part of this beautiful gathering and demonstration of true community and love!