Sagada’s Masferre Restaurant: A Tribute Bistro to Philippine’s Father of Photograpy

Text: Kaycie Gayle

Ten years ago I have discovered a restaurant that sits quietly at the mountainous province region of the country. In my travel journal, I have written about it.

“I was curious, why the restaurant is called Masferre. It’s mostly made of wood with so many laminated pictures on the wall hence made me think that it’s just part of the interior design. The ambiance is fine to me, but finding the table beside the window that is overlooking the pine trees is what I like the most. Looking out from the window captivated me that made waiting for the food become unnoticed. Most of the diners here are tourists particularly foreigners. Upon browsing the menu list, I happen to read at the back of it a short account about Masferre’s life. Consequently, after finishing my meal I looked at the pictures hanged on the wall before we left the restaurant. Uncertain if they are the original copy of the photographs, still, it’s good to see how Masferre’s works look like.”

Lakad PilipinasRestaurant’s Side Window | Lakad Pilipinas

2011-3 management.jpgDiners | Management at Tripadvisor


In hindsight Masferre was born in the Gran Central Cordilleras of Luzon to a Spanish soldier turned farmer and his Filipina (Kankanaey) wife. He was a self-taught photographer who finds passion in capturing the everyday normal lives of the Igorot, from their characters, lifestyles, celebrations, and rituals. He endeavored to document the simplicity and the magnificence of their local customs and tradition before the onrush of the modern world and inevitable transformation by technology and industrialization. He has left a body of work estimated to have at least seven million photographs that will endure to show the ancestral life ways of the people of the Central Cordillera so that we may visualize how the Cordilleran forebears, lived and worked. His work A Philippine Arcadia (1935-1955) shows the proud faces of Igorots, their manner of life, their work, and their rice fields. Hence, his works have become a significant contribution in understanding the history, and origins of the culture of the place.

oreoeroNov 2012Some pictures displayed on the wall |oreoero at Tripadvisor

Interestingly as I was reading more about Masferre and this restaurant online I have seen a photo featuring Masferre Gallery taken way back in 1998. Also, I have learned that it was originally named as Julia’s Inn but was eventually converted into Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant in the early 90’s. Currently, it is being operated and managed by the children of Eduardo Masferré.

B.L.A.S.T Benjie Layug Adventures of a Savvy TMasferre Gallery, Further out along Bontoc Road, at the Bagaan Road Junction (circa 8 April, 1998)|B.L.A.S.T Benjie Layug Adventures of a Savvy Traveler

261646_112687498822036_1025173_n.jpgMasferre Restaurant at night circa 2011 | Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant’s Facebook Page

BlackfieldsFeb 2015Masferre Restaurant in February 2015 | Blackfields at Tripadvisor

Jerzy GApr 2018Restaurant’s outdoor look has remained the same except for the door entrance|Jerzy G at Tripadvisor Apr 2018

EmaniuzDec 2016-2Glass door|Emaniuz at Tripadvisor

From the main road of Sagada, the restaurants look like a bungalow chalet that is made of wood and bricks. Its casement window with flowers on the plant box attached to it makes the outdoor look charming to passersby. Meanwhile, its indoor ambiance consistently reflects its facade. The restaurant has a warm looking interior where its dining area is mostly made of wood. It is illuminated by a generous amount of natural sunlight passing through its side windows. A table near the windows is a treat as it provides you to have a nice view of the quaint Sagada hills and the near peaceful looking Episcopalian Church. On the other hand to while away the time, you may go on what seems to be the back wall in the bistro. It is where the works and photographic memorabilia of Eduardo Masferre are displayed that you can look on to. Staring at the pictures will somehow make you feel like having a glimpse of old ancestral characters. Furthermore, it will leave you realizing that these photos are both artistic and historically significant as it depicts the traditional Cordillera life and culture in the early 20th century.

Patrick DFeb 2014-tripadvisorRestaurant Interior | Patrick D at Tripadvisor

418288_225988720825246_1779658931_n.jpgNatural sunlight passing through its side windows while diners are eating | Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant Facebook Page

Geezelle_Geemiz Jul 2013.jpgRestaurant’s tables and back wall|Geezelle_Geemiz at Tripadvisor

The restaurant is offering a wide array of dishes, may you want a light or heavy meal or craving for vegetables or meat dishes. Definitely, there is an option for anyone who would like to try out their dishes or for any hungry neighbors and travelers.

22090190_1484296048327834_850842487260490806_n.jpgCaramel Banana Walnut Pancake | Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant Facebook Page

BlackbirdPaulinaFeb 2018-2Pastries|BlackbirdPaulina at Tripadvisor

45003782_1932433316847436_501470713509576704_nRice meals|Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant Facebook Page

MS BJul 2018Pasta Meal| MS B at Tripadvisor

1864_425728540851262_530056430_nSandwiches | Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant Facebook Page

44831586_1932432350180866_3211850425976225792_nQuesadilla|Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant Facebook Page

44879718_1932432440180857_6272309387981750272_nFinger foods with dip |Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant Facebook Page

There is also a souvenir shop adjacent to the restaurant where the coffee table book entitled Masferré, A Tribute to the Philippine Cordillera is available for purchase. They also have a product line that offers Wild Honey and Fruit Jams like blueberry, strawberry, mango, orange, guava, guava-orange and pineapple. In addition, they have delicious sweet treats like chocolatey Homemade Cookies, Choco Flakes, Peanut Brittle, and Lengua de Gato. Meanwhile,  for the health conscious they have Organic produce like Sugar, Red Rice, Black Sticky Rice, and native Ginger Tea. For souvenirs, you might also want to check their quality bags and clothing lines.

BlackbirdPaulinaFeb 2018Customers at the Souvenir Shop| BlackbirdPaulina at Tripadvisor

BlackbirdPaulinaFeb 2018Goodies | BlackbirdPaulina at Tripadvisor

Dining in this restaurant enabled me to peek at the few works of the father of photography in the Philippines. Back then up to now, I have always thought that it is both tenable and good thing that somebody has given tribute to a significant photographer in the form of a restaurant. It is a strategic way of being able to share his masterpieces publicly. Meanwhile, the onlookers will go home with enriched knowledge about the history and culture of this place through his photographs. As for me, if ever I will be back in Sagada soon, I will definitely dine and marvel at Masferre’s photographs once more.

Masferré Country Inn & Restaurant is located in Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province Philippines. It is only minutes away from the local church and near from the old municipal hall.

Acknowledgments to, Photographed by Jun Reynales and  Lakad Pilipinas

Casual Dining
Moderately Priced Restaurant

Header Image Courtesy of Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant Facebook Page