MOUNTAIN PROVINCE | Sagada’s Church of St. Mary the Virgin | Lakad Pilipinas

Church of St. Mary the Virgin

After my afternoon trek to the Echo Valley, I was really not up for another adventure since the light then was starting to dim out. A stroll through the town streets, a few fishball sticks, and a refreshing halo-halo later and the town was fully dark. With very few streetlamps illuminating the road, I was expecting an array of stars from the heavens, but no such luck, the sky was too cloudy.
Bonfires, Sagada local's favorite night activity
Having regained a bit of my strength, I decided to check out the massive church  I passed by earlier on the way to the Echo Valley.

Standing proud at the heart of Sagada is a monumental stone church built by American Missionaries during the early 1900’s, The Saint Mary Episcopal Church. The church was founded by the Reverend John Staunton who came to Sagada to spread the Christian faith to its local people. Sagada is a predominantly Protestant community, with 95% of its population sharing the faith.

With no flashlight to guide me, I slowly made my way through the paved path leading to the church. I chanced upon a few people having bonfire off the yards of the cathedral and it kinda comforted me that there were other people on the grounds as well since it was quite dark in the area.

I was really planning to get some photos of the church against the night sky but I was having a hard time with no moon to illuminate the edifice. After a few tries, and with the last of the people in area Church of St. Mary the Virginleaving, I finally gave up. The place was giving me the creeps, as the only source of light was the church’s interior. The town cemetery being located within the area also didn’t help.

It was there that I met JP, Jazz and Jonah, fellow Sagada first-timers from Bicol. They asked me if I want to join up for an all-day sunrise to sunset tour the next day. Since I really have no battle plan for Sagada, I agreed and parted ways with the guys.

While waiting for the moon rise over the mountains, I had my dinner al fresco over at Banas Café & Resto where I also got to meet a few other Sagada backpackers. The visitors there were really quite friendly, with these new set of acquaintances asking me if I want to accompany them to the Banaue Rice Terraces the next day. I unfortunately had to decline, already having a set course with the guys I met at the church.

The moon finally did show itself at around nine in the evening, just enough time to head back to the cathedral.

It seemed that my luck finally turned up. There was a mass going on by the time I got there and the church was adequately illuminated. Having only thirty minutes left before the inn I’m staying in closes up for the night, I hastily set-up my tripod, positioned my camera, pulled up my timer and got a grand total of four photographs.

So ended my first day at Sagada, brief though it was, I still immensely enjoyed every part of it.

Ongoing mass for Maundy Thursday
Cloudy night at Sagada Illumination from the church


       Church of St. Mary the Virgin 
       Mass Schedule : 6:30am - Mass | Sundays: 6:30am - Mass | 8:30am - Sung Mass | 8:30am - Sunday School


Posted by Lakad Pilipinas on Thursday, April 8, 2010


  1. parang hindi malaki ang simbahan sa picture

  2. galing ng night shot ng church! kakaiba sa usual shots.

  3. Janet, I guess the scale of the church compared with the structures in Sagada was what made it look massive to me hehe.

    DGF, thanks! I really waited for it to go dark before shooting the church. Much more mysterious looking at night. =)

  4. What language do they use during masses at St. Mary's?

    1. Hi, my guess would be Kankana-ey, Sagada's primary language.

  5. The language that is usually used is English