The Foxy Nun of Sagada

I'd gone to Manila to visit my friend Jonathan. He had some time off so we went north to the Mountain Province and a village called Sagada. The plan was to hang out there for a week or so.

Beyond Sagada is hard-core jungle inhabited by a handful of semi-reformed headhunters. Decades ago the Episcopalians built a cathedral in the settlement anticipating Sagada would become the gateway to the north - as it turned out, no-one wanted to go north so the cathedral sits like an oversized relic amidst a small barrio of tin sheds. At the time of our visit the church's sole representative was a nun who ran the local guesthouse.

To visit Sagada is to get a front row seat to spectacular views of raw heaving nature. Cradled in a valley, atop a mountain, enormous clouds would hit the side of the range, pour up into the valley, wash over it's length spilling out the other side - this and the jungle serving hourly repo notices made Sagada a true frontier town.

Splendid as nature is, after a while I found myself distracted by the areas lack of electricity and magazines. That, and I was finding the nun's surly manner alluring.

I understood deep down these things pointed to a personality flaw in me. I had some reflecting to do and planned to spend the week doing just that on the porch of the guesthouse. Jonathan had other plans. Unburdened by any of this he launched into a deep communion with nature, leaving me to my peccadillos.

I was mid-musing on day 3 when the nun dropped dead.

They put her in a pine box by the back door where she stayed for most of the day before being taken away for burial under a pile of rocks (frontier style). Dead at 30, turns out not only did she have dewy lips, but also a dicky heart.

My mind had been in a malleable state before the nun died but her death, so far from the things I'd like around should I have a turn (like the IC Ward of Saint Vincent's Hospital) really set me thinking about electricity, magazines and lots of other stuff.

The original set of Ten Drawings of the Jungle was done the day after the Foxy Nun of Sagada died but here's the woman herself - and my guest-house room with a view.