October 2, 2023

The usual observance of All Saints’ Day in Sagada, Mountain Province where the town appears to be “on flame” will not happen again this year after the local government unit ordered cemeteries to be closed on Nov. 1.

“We will not have the usual observance of Nov. 1 where residents light a saleng (pine twig) together at the cemetery in the afternoon,” Mayor James Pooten said.

Pooten said the municipal Inter-Agency Task Force (MIATF) adhered to the order of the national IATF to close all cemeteries nationwide to the public from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3.

“Because nobody will be at the cemetery on Nov. 1, we will not see saleng lighted beside the tombs of the loved ones,” he said.

Pooten said they have already issued an order giving schedules to residents in the different villages for their visit to cemeteries from Oct. 25 to 29 and will only open to villagers on Nov. 3.

Residents from other areas with relatives in Sagada can visit from Nov. 3 onwards, the mayor said.

He said the panag-apoy (lighting of fire) is a practice among residents as a way to remember their dead loved ones. It is similar to others where they light a candle. “But in our case, we light a pine twig, which emits the smell of a pine tree resin and it produces bigger fire compared to that of a candle,” Pooten said.

The saleng used to be the community’s source of light in the olden times due to the absence of electricity and is still practiced up to this day by residents as a source of light in place of candles.

As a native of Sagada, the mayor said he grew up with such practice every afternoon of Nov. 1.

“I am now 58. It is how we do it on that day,” he said.

Pooten also clarified panag-apoy is not a festival, but the locals’ observance of All Saints’ Day. – PNA