Panag-apoy: Sagada’s Way of Remembering the Departed

Panag-apoy: Sagada Festival of Fire
At sundown, the cemetery appears to be a town drowning in fire.

Every first 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” a Kankana-ey term that means “to light a fire”, is the town’s way of remembering the departed. The tradition starts with an afternoon mass and the blessing of “saeng”. Afterwards, the locals proceed to the nearby cemetery to pray and light their “saeng”, while the priest walks around to bless the graves.

Panag-apoy: Sagada's Festival of Fire
Instead of the usual candles, locals of Sagada use woods of old pine trees to create bonfires on the graves of their departed.

Before sundown, almost every grave is lighted with bonfire and the thick fumes from the fires cover the ground. As the darkness creeps the surrounding, the cemetery glows in fire, as if the entire village is burning.

While others refer to this occasion as Sagada’s Festival of Light, for true blooded Sagadian’s, it is serious important moment, a time when families reunite to remember their beloved deceased.

Panag-apoy: Sagada's Festival of Fire
“Panag-apoy” or “to light a fire” is a tradition long been practiced in Sagada and passed on even to present generation.

These panag-apoy photos were published in October 2010 issue of Mabuhay Magazine, Philippine Airlines’ inflight magazine.


  1. […] on top of the grave. Locales do this every all saints’ day and calls this tradition “panag-apoy“. I’ve only seen it in pictures but it should be quite a sight to see an entire hill in […]

  2. […] the Panag-apoy and Begnas […]

  3. Ed

    nice to understand this other side of Sagada! galing bai!

  4. […] festival of fire is being held here every first day of November, where the entire cemetery looks like burning as the thick smoke from the bonfires on the tomb of […]

  5. whoa! amazing… I didn’t know that. I’ve been to Sagada 2 years ago, but since I it’s summer time then, I wasn’t able to witness this. thanks! perfect timing for all saints day

    1. thanks 🙂

  6. this is good to know! thnx for sharing Angel! Keep exploring!

    1. Thanks Gael 🙂

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