Say-am Festival is a cultural festival and founding anniversary celebration in the province of Apayao, Philippines held every February 14. It usually starts on the first day of February and culminating activities fall on the 14th of the month, which is the date that the province was established.
The festival honors the culture of Isneg, an ethnic minority group, as well as a festive recollection of the date that the province was created.
History of Say-am Festival
Say-am Festival comes from the word say-am, a community ritual observed by Isneg group. Thus its name readily gives away the first point of the festivity, that is as an opportunity to celebrate the ethnic customs and tradition of the Isneg people who live along the river of Abulug. They may have descended from people who once lived in the northern coastlines of Luzon and retreated into interior uplands when the Spaniards came. They are also called Isnag and Apayao after the name of the place they inhabit.
The festival likewise recalls the historic establishment of Apayao as an independent province. It used to be part of Mountain Province until it was divided into four that included Benguet, Kalinga-Apayao, and Ifugao.
Through the legislative effort of Elias K. Bulut, Kalinga-Apayao was further split up into Kalinga and Apayao by virtue of Republic Act 7878 which was signed into law on February 14, 1995. The 14th of February is a non-working holiday every year by virtue of Provincial Ordinance No. 01 that was passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Apayao in 2017.
Say-am Festival was first held in 1996, a year after Apayao was established. Its inspiration came from the Isneg thanksgiving ritual for important occasions that involved prayer, dancing, feast, and wine consumption.
Say-am Festival Schedule of Activities
Say-am Festival schedule of activities include various entertainment, talks, and programs. Competitions include food fair, street dancing, float parade, talent contests, games, and giving recognition called Elias K. Bulut Eagle award.
Here are some of the highlights.
Agro-Industrial Trade Fair and Tourism Exhibit
Agro-Industrial Trade Fair and Tourism Exhibit is an annual display of the province’s agricultural produce, arts, crafts, and scenic tourist destinations. It is participated by different localities of Apayao and join the competition of the best decorated display area. Booths are set up where they can display local products.
Dayag Ti Apayao
Dayag Ti Apayao is a prestigious female beauty pageant.
Where to go
Fair and exhibit are customarily located in the provincial capitol and Plaza Grounds in the municipality of Luna where the provincial government is located.
How to reach Apayao
One may book available flights to Laoag International Airport and then take either taxi or bus going to Kabugao. Bus trips are also available from various points of Luzon.
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