UCA News

Philippines

Mindanao city honors archangel with festival

St. Michael is much loved in Iligan, where his feast is celebrated with much fanfare

Divina M. Suson, Iligan City

Divina M. Suson, Iligan City

Updated: October 04, 2019 02:01 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Mindanao city honors archangel with festival

Devotees carry an image of St. Michael the Archangel around the southern Philippines city of Iligan on Sept. 29 to mark the feast of their patron saint. (Photo by Richel V. Umel)

Share this article :
It is said that Christians, Muslims and the Higaonon tribal people of Mindanao used to live in harmony until the “devil” came, destroyed their farms and sowed the seeds of conflict. Then an archangel came, St. Michael, who defeated the “devil” and helped rebuild the community.

That is the story behind Iligan City’s Diyandi Festival when people showcase their different cultures as a thanksgiving to their patron, St. Michael the Archangel.  “Diyandi” is a Higaonon word that means “a celebration of life.”

”It is a celebration and thanksgiving to St. Michael for protecting the people of Iligan,” said Sorilie Bacsarpa, a member of the city council, adding that the festival was a “symbol of unity, cooperation and a celebration of a good harvest and a good economy.”

Every year, the city sponsors a street dancing competition and it has become one of the festival’s highlights. The dances tell the story of how the archangel Michael has protected the city from natural and man-made disasters.

One particular dance shows his battle with Lucifer as the people chant in their tribal languages, accompanied by bamboo musical instruments. A festival queen in her gown and headdress then takes center stage and dances while holding an image of St. Michael.

Bacsarpa said the city had decided to hold its own festival after seeing that religious festivals across the country had proved popular. Before naming the festival “Diyandi,” it was called “Kasadya” (Joy), and before it "Sayaw-Saulog" (dance celebration). ”We want our young generations to witness and discover the cultures of Iligan through the dances,” she explained.

No politics, thanks

Last year church leaders banned politicians from taking part in the festival to prevent a “politics-flavored ritual.” In the past, local officials had always been part of the so-called “Pakanaug” rite, when the image of the saint was brought down from its pedestal.

A congressman would customarily hold the archangel’s spear while the mayor took charge of the helmet and the police chief carried his shield. The image of the patron saint is then be taken to the entrance of the church for the faithful to venerate.

According to Catholic Church tradition, St. Michael the Archangel is one of the principal angels whose name means “Who is like God” in Hebrew.

St. Michael is much loved around the Philippines, nowhere more so than in Iligan and the town of Jagna in Bohol province, where his feast is celebrated with much fanfare every Sept. 29.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."