Tommy Hafalla

© Tommy Hafalla - from his award-winning series 'Cliff Hanger: Death Rite'

In his introduction, Tommy wrote:

In Sagada one will only have the privilege of being interred by the cliffs. The “Sangadil” starts by putting the deceased in an upright position on a chair. This takes place on the third day after death. The corpse is dressed with a hand-woven fabric in stripes, the higher the status, the more stripes there should be. Once done, the families commence a litany of prayers depicting the life and genealogy of the deceased. After which, the death blanket (“pinagpagan”) is wrapped around the deceased. This ball like bundle is then passed on from one pair of hands to another in a fast-paced manner almost running, until the procession of men reach the cliffs of “echo valley” some 2 kilometers away from the village. The wooden coffin is already waiting at its designated place. The name of the deceased written on its side, when the procession reaches the site, the remains are lain to its final resting place—hanging by the cliff—amid cheers and clapping hands.

'Cliff Hanger: Death Rite' by Filipino photographer Tommy Hafalla was among the work which garnedred HPA 2009 documentary Award which aims to call upon photographers all over the world to record and preserve the heritage of folk culture.

See HPA 2009 Gallery here.

Related links:
World Folklore Photographers Association
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