In Sagada like the rest of the country, All Saint’s Day is the day they gather together and remember the departed.
But while it is common to light a candle or two, the indigenous community of Sagada, instead burn wood from old pine, locally known as “saeng”.
The Panag-apoy, as the Kankanays call this ritual, was an event I had wanted to witness since I learned of it many, many years ago. Not for lack of trying but victorious, I never was until two years ago. The threat of rains, I thought, would once again thwart the gathering as it did in my previous attempts.
But lo and behold, the sun came out on that 1st day of November and finally allowed this curious spectator a glimpse of this unusual ritual.
A ritual that’s been practiced since the 1900s and is not purely indigenous. It is a combination of Anglican rites, influenced by the teachings of American missionaries, and the Igorot culture.
It starts with a liturgical service at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
Followed by the blessing of the saeng and the tombs. And as the priest moves around, one by one the saeng gets lighted and laid by the tomb.
By day’s end, the Sagada cemetery behind St. Mary glows in the dark. And truth be told, it is a surreal sight to behold.
Like me, many go to witness, document or to just experience this amazing tradition unique to the northern Kankanays.
3 thoughts on “Panag-apoy: A Sagada Ritual”
Wow, what a tradition. I bet with the popularity of Sagada, this tradition will attract more and more people in the coming years.
Hi, i’ve not been here for quite a while, now found it again. I’ve been to Sagada but too long ago, wish to witness that ritual too.