Salakayan Festival

Salakayan Festival is a yearly cultural fest and a founding anniversary in the town of Miagao in the province of Iloilo, Philippines. It remembers the victorious battle of the people of Miagao against Moro pirates in 1754. Conducted every first week of February, it is a week-long celebration of the town’s culture, history, and heritage.

History of Salakayan Festival

Salakayan Festival was first held in the municipality of Miagao in 1999. It was coined from the Hiligaynon word salakayan, which means attack. This annual event is a commemoration of the Battle of Miagao that took place in the 18th century and chronicled in “History of Miagao,” a book published by Elias Failagao in 1979.

The Battle of Miagao

The Battle of Miagao occurred on May 7, 1754. On that day, its people successfully repelled the Muslims when the latter initiated an attack in what historians are calling Moro raids. However, very few details survived through centuries about what exactly transpired on that fateful day. Oral tradition was lost in the passage of time too. The ones that were recorded are the names of the leadership in the town at that time: officers Captain Jose Echevarria, Lieutenant Francisco Alburo, parish priest Fr. Pedro Alvares, and leader Agustin Gayo.

Miagao was struck with similar assaults in the past with catastrophic results. Its church, located further down south in the banks of Oyungan River in an area that straddled Damilisan and Igbugo, was destroyed twice in 1741 and 1747 from Moro raids. People were killed and enslaved.

In those times, Mindanao was one of the places in the Philippine archipelago that was not subject to the complete foreign rule of the Spanish occupation. Ruled by Islamic sultanates whose origins came from missionaries who arrived in 13th century, Mindanao put up fierce resistance against the Spaniards for much of the 300 years in the colonial period. Its people embarked in destructive raids in the islands of Visayas and portions of Luzon particularly in the 17th century in response to the threats that the Spaniards posed to their way of life, economy, and political influence. They were also animated by the profitable slaves market in the local and foreign lands. Their attacks particularly in settlements where Christianity took roots were marked by pillage, ruin, killings, and capture of people to become slaves or to be put on sale to become one.

Miagao, similar to other coastal towns that were vulnerable to Moro raids, erected watchtowers that were one of the few surviving reminders of those perilous times. These are located in Damilisan, Baybay, and Kirayan Sur. They were erected to serve as defense for its townspeople.

Its religious administration was at the hands of Jesuit friars who built the first churches. Fr. Fernando Camporedondo transferred the pueblo to its present-day location between 1744 and 1750. In 1768, the Jesuits were expelled from their missions by virtue of the issuance by Pope Clement XIV called Dominus ac Redemptor. Priests from the Order of St. Augustine tended to the flock in their absence, and they built the famous Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church (a National Cultural Treasure and a UNESCO Heritage Site as one of the Baroque churches in the Philippines) that was completed in 1797.

History of Miagao

Salakayan Festival also is also celebration in the historic founding of the municipality of Miagao. In the past it was part of Oton. In 1580, it was annexed to Tigbauan, then to Suaraga (called the town of San Joaquin) in 1592, and to Guimbal in 1703. This southern town was established in 1716; meanwhile research entitled ‘Foundation Dates for “The Pueblos of Panay”’ placed the date in 1734. It was only in 1731 that Nicolas Pangkug served as the very first head of the town.

Two accounts are proposed on the origin of its name. Either it came from a plant that grew in its surrounding or from a native who replied with their name when asked by a Spanish colonizer what the place was called.

Salakayan Festival Activities

Salakayan Festival Activities religious services, cultural shows, programs, the different events of Miss Salakayan (such as talent’s night), competitions (drum and lyre, arts, photography), sports (volleyball, basketball, native games), entertainment, parade, fluvial parade, etc.

Higante contest

Higante contest is a competition where villages (called barangays) of the town compete with giant puppets that will participate in a street parade. The puppets are generally people who signify unity and representation of the village. Entries must be at least 7 feet tall.

Miss Salakayan

Miss Salakayan is a beauty contest for females. It is a prestigious search for the best female candidate who best represent the modern

Salakayan Reenactment

The main highlight of the Salakayan Festival is the street dance drama that reenacts the Battle of Miagao. It is a cultural show that depicts the the encounter between Muslims and the town on May 7, 1754.

How to reach Miagao

Book a flight to Iloilo International Airport, then you can take a bus to Miagao. The trip is about 60 kilometers and would take about two hours.


Salakayan Festival Summary

NameSalakayan Festival
CelebrationCulture, Founding anniversary, History
Contact(033) 315 2185
DateFirst week of February
Historical eventBattle of Miagao
LocationMiagao, Iloilo
OrganizerMunicipal Government of Miagao