This time last year, I was in the lovely mountain town of Sagada where I got the chance to witness an interesting and unique ritual traditionally done during All Saint’s Day – the Panag-apoy sa Sagada. The Panag-aapoy is a traditional practice among the people of Sagada to respect the dead.
Locals point out that this is not a festival, but rather a practice of remembering the dead with fire that is an enduring tradition among the northern Kankanaey residents of Sagada. While most people simply light candles at gravestones during All Soul’s Day in other parts of the country, the practice in Sagada involves burning “sa-eng” (fatwood) every eve of November 1.
As the sun sets, residents light bunches of pinewood to make small bonfires at the gravestones of their loved ones. This actually also works better than simply lighting candles because of Sagada’s strong winds that can easily blow candles out. The fires from the different graves transforms the cemetery into a smoky valley. The sight of the moonlight shining through the tall pine trees and bonfires illuminating the gravestones at night is really quite a sight. Here are a few snapshots from last year’s coverage of Sagada’s traditional ritual.