LUNA, Apayao – The rich culture and traditions of the people of Apayao were highlighted through its celebration of the Say-Am Festival with the theme: “Apayao @28: Celebrating continuous progress, vibrant culture, and empowered people.” Its float parade, street dancing, and cultural displays at the Apayao Eco-Tourism and Sports Complex were a few of the much-awaited activities of the two-week-long celebration.
The Agri-Industrial & Tourism Fair booths were also launched to showcase different and unique local products by the different municipalities of Apayao located in Luna town. Families and tourists filled each stall trying out their different products and even purchasing some as ‘pasalubong.’
On the day of the street dancing contest and exhibition, February 12, Governor Elias Bulut Jr. explained that the street dance showcase highlighted the ‘Lapat’ system of the Isnag or the Apayao people’s heritage of protecting their rich environment and natural resources such as forests and rivers.
‘Lapat’ is a method for regulating natural resource usage to provide for the recovery of natural resources and the healing and regeneration of forests and animals.
He explained that the display of the ‘Lapat’ during the Say-am celebration by the participating towns intends to demonstrate how the Isnags of Apayao conserve their natural resources to the public. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation.
Bulut further explained that this is also a means to teach the younger generation about the Isnag traditions so that they would be the ones to carry on the tradition as well as the conservation and sustainability of Apayao’s natural resources.
Meanwhile, the municipality of Calanasan was declared the champion of the street dancing competition, with Pudtol and Flora coming in second and third place, respectively.
Senator Imee Marcos was the guest of honor at the event. She was warmly welcomed by the people of Apayao, along with Governor Elias Bulut Jr., Congressman Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, and first lady Heidi Liza Bulut. Marcos gave her regards to the I-Apayaos as they celebrated the 28th Say-am Festival. She also emphasized the importance of coming together in this celebration to enjoy time with one another and enjoy the activities prepared by the officials of Apayao.
Towards the end of the day, a few more activities were held, one of which was another most anticipated activity: the Dayag ti Apayao 2023. Candidates representing the municipalities went through different rounds, wowing judges and the crowd, proving to them how much they deserved the crown. In the end, the newly crowned queen was Ms. Jazreal Jamila Calaycay Encicso hailing from Kabugao. By Graysheil Frae Runes & Eunice Tomacder