When Travel Agencies Prostitute Sagada Over Nov. 1 “Festival"

7:06:00 PM Capturing Footprints 0 Comments

Travel agencies offering packages to the famous town of Sagada have a coined a term: “Pinag-aapoy Fest”. But not all locals of Sagada are happy about developing the simple way of how they observe the Christian rite into a FESTIVAL, which is obviously a marketing strategy to capitalize on it for financial gains.

Baguilat Gomowad, a local, has posted this screenshot on Facebook: 

"Pinag-aapoy" or "Pinag-dedenet" are Kankanaey terms that mean season for burning or lighting. This is in relations to the practice of Sagada locals on All Saints Day. They go to their Anglican cemeteries-- not in burial sites of hanging coffins, to burn chops of pinewood, an indigenous resource that is a substitute to candle. This unique way of commemorating the Christian feast have been practiced since Christianity arrived in the Sagada with the help of Anglican missionaries from the United States.

In the recent years, media giants including ABS-CBN and BBC have broadcast the tradition that visually presents a burning cemetery like hell.  However, the practice is far from being a festival, a fair or even an event. Some have tagged it as " Festival of Lights". 

Could Pinag-aapoy Fest be the latest addition to  Etag and Bonfire festivals? Sagada locals are not okay with it.

Sagada locals are becoming uncomfortable seeing tourists following them in every ritual. The November 1 practice is sacred, they say as it is a moment for them to remember their loved ones.

However it is also interesting to note that it is impossible for these travel agencies to have no local contact in Sagada to consult about this specific package tour. It is unbelievable that these travel agencies, mostly based in Metro Manila, have just invented the term without mentioning it to the local tour guides who will be accommodating the participants.

Some claim it is not the first time the term was used. It is only now that bigger travel agencies are joining the circle that caught the attention of the locals.

After negative reactions from the locals poured on Facebook, some travel agencies humbly deleted the pages.

Sagada is becoming the apple of the eye of travelers after massive publicity of the caves, the sunrise views, the cold weather, the cuisine, and the unique culture. With the continuous introduction of travel packages, the different aspects of Sagada are getting unveiled to the world in a more commercialized way.

What is next for these travel agencies to do? Will they talk to the family of an elderly so when that elder dies, they will charge participants to come up to Sagada to witness the Igorot burial rites?