Saad Festival – Rituals and Reflections of Leganes
The municipality of Leganes is surrounded by a spiritual halo with the celebration of its annual Saad Festival, a well-known Catholic tradition celebrated after Lent as a way to let loose after the prohibitions of the religious holidays. It is also a time when the devout and curious join together and converge on the streets and squares which take on the ambience and mystique of its celebration. Saad, a Hiligaynon term for vow, depicts Leganesnons’ intense spirituality and religious faith. Saad actually stems from a religious basis although this might be difficult to believe if you choose to experience the weeklong, all-night parties that characterize the happening. The Hiligaynon word Saad means faith and this festivity keeps the spirit of unity amongst its people. This tourism celebration provides visitors the opportunity to worship with the local Christian community.
The town is principally a pilgrimage center in the province as devotion to the saint—renowned for his piety, scholarship, and preaching, has touched the lives of many who believed. San Vicente Ferrer is the patron saint of the town and is the central vision of the celebration where many visitors make the once-a-year pilgrimage to pray to be healed and eased from their illnesses and suffering.
The palapak or the setting of the miraculous image of the winged saint to ones’ head is the message of light, the message of unity, impartiality and the example of faith for pilgrims who annually visit the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish and claim the miraculous healing of their patron saint. Transforming this personal religious experience led them to the town where they desire for religious consolation and accept it as the basis for their spiritual belief and daily living where vital piety is to be joined in faithfulness.
The festival is primarily a praise and worship presentation that combines Leganes’ folktale with contemporary way of worship to choreographed steps. With pomp and ceremony, the presentations’ focal point is its community life, worship, and identity. This is the moment when art and religion seem merged into one. The entire scene is alive with colors and sounds. Emotions are stirred by the slow rhythmic beating of the music accompanying the processional marches of the sculptured image of their patron saint. With colorful costumes, there is shouting, pausing frequently for prayers and rituals. It is in their hearts that makes the expression real, God-honoring and a blessing. Normally interpretative, dancers use props and processional movements with costumes reflecting God’s holiness and order. They dance for joy to praise their patron saint for his deliverance.
Iloilo rejoices in the contribution and value of this religious community. It is important for the integrity of its religious traditions that we recognize the centrality of this major festival within the Ilonggo community. In our increasingly diverse society, we need to foster a mature and healthy approach to such religious celebration that recognizes the specific Christian heritage of the people of Iloilo and welcomes the important part this religious tradition increasingly play within our culture. There is no better way to get to know Leganes than through this celebration. For some it is a fun filled fiesta time, but for many, it is a week of ritual and reflection. For this year, Saad Festival is scheduled in April 4-8.