Photoblog: Sagada’s Festival of Lights

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Panag-apoy sa Sagada

Every first day of November, Sagadians gather at the cemetery to remember their departed loved ones. But instead of lighting traditional candles, they use woods of old pine trees locally called “saeng“, a flammable wood from old pine trees, to create bonfires on the graves of their departed. They call it “panag-apoy”, a tradition long been practiced in Sagada, Mountain Province.

Panag-apoy sa Sagada
Shortly after the mass has ended, Sagadians proceed to the nearby cemetery to light their “saeng”.


Panag-apoy sa Sagada
Before sundown, locals start lighting their “saeng” producing small bonfires on the tombs of their departed loved ones. Meanwhile the Episcopalian priest goes around to bless the graves.


Panag-apoy sa Sagada
As the night falls and the woods ablaze, thick smoke engulfs the ground. Locals gather to remember their departed while tourists join to witness the rare tradition.


Panag-apoy sa Sagada
The use of “saeng” started a long time ago, when candles were not yet available. The practice was passed down from generation to generation until it became a tradition.


Panag-apoy sa Sagada
At sundown, the entire cemetery appears to be a town drowning in fire.


Panag-apoy sa Sagada
Others call it “Festival of Lights”, but locals refer to it as “Panag-apoy”, a Kankana-ey word that means “to light a fire”, a tradition long been practiced in Sagada and passed on even to present generation.


Panag-apoy sa Sagada
The next day, when all the fires extinguish and the smoke settles, what’s left are the ashes, burnt woods and smoked tombs. The cemetery will be another deserted land filled with a lot of memories.
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13 thoughts on “Photoblog: Sagada’s Festival of Lights

  1. great pictures! this should be a really good time to visit Sagada.. novembers now just around the corner. 🙂

    1. Yes, very interesting. Actually when I saw it three years ago, I didn’t know na may ganyan. My Sagadian friend just told me to accompany her in cemetery and I was amazed when I saw na ganun pala ang tradition nila 🙂

  2. Cool! Buti na lang may 4 day weekend at sana walang problems ang roads due to the typhoons. Gusto ko din pumunta dito kahit solo! Sana wala ngang bagyo :/

  3. wow.. nakaka-excite. sana lang tlga wag nang magalit ang panahon sa Sagada, at payagan kaming makapunta dyan.. sana walang bayo.

    ano kayang pakiramdam kung nandyan sa panag-apoy, malamang sobrang init..

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