Sagada mayor, residents tell tourists: 'Respect us'

BAGUIO, Philippines – The mayor of Sagada, Mountain Province often wears the traditional G-string or wanes during rituals, but this time he wore a beige polo T-shirt and held a sheet of paper with the message, “Please respect the people. Ask permission before taking pictures or video of people, especially elders. Please don’t expect any of us to pose in traditional clothing for pictures, because we don’t do that.”

Mayor James B. Pooten is the new poster boy for responsible tourism, asking tourists to ease up on taking Instagram posts and selfies in Sagada.

Other Sagada residents were also included in the series. One is holding a message asking people to respect the Sagada culture and keep a distance from their sacred sites.

“Please be modest. This is a small conservative town and we like it that way. Save the revealing clothing for the beach and the displays of affection for your private space. There is no commercial sex here so don’t waste time looking for it,” said another placard of a Sagada oldtimer.

Photos courtesy of the Sagada Responsible Tourism Facebook page

Another woman asked tourists not to hire children as tour guides.

Sagada has been at the forefront of limiting tourists in their area ever since “That Thing Called Tadhana” hit theaters in 2014, causing a spike in tourist arrivals in the town. 

The movie’s locales were featured in the movie and many of the tour guides were forced to watch the movie in 2015 after they were swamped by tourists’ request to visit the Gaia Café and the Kiltepan viewpoint.

An ill-advised pre-nuptial photo shooting in a Sagada burial cave in August 2015 also forced Sagada leaders to reflect on the effects of what they call “Hit-and-run tourism.”

Photos courtesy of the Sagada Responsible Tourism Facebook page

The shortened travel time from Manila to Baguio because of the TPLEX and the improved Halsema Highway also created a “Sagada carmaggedon.” 

Sagada municipality approved a transportation code which requires tourists to park their cars in their hostels and pay parking areas and walk the rest of the way if possible.

A reservation is now required to view the Kiltepan sunrise, with only 800 allowed per viewing. 

For this Holy Week, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin – an Episcopalean church – also gave the following reminders: