Up north in Isabela province, the City of Santiago has been displaying character and unity in diversity for more than a decade with Pattaradday Festival, a unique confluence of cultures, ethno-linguistic roots and influences.
The Ibanag word for unity, Pattaradday was initiated by civic leaders, the art community, and the city government to highlight local identity and Santiago’s diverse origins.
This veritable display of character and unity comes to life once more in the annual Pattaradday Festival last April 30-May 5 as part of the City’s 18th foundation day.
The festival’s locus is the Grand Character Parade highlights Santiago as a character city. A local government unit is declared a “character city” if it integrates the development of moral values in the various facets of governance.
“Pattaradday unifies the city’s 14 ethno-linguistic groups and focuses on the unity despite the artistic and cultural diversity of the people,” says Santiago City Mayor Amelita Navarro who inaugurated the first festival in 2000.
She said the city emphasizes prayerfulness, obedience, humility, perseverance, punctuality, honesty, responsibility, generosity, contentment, and forgiveness in its programs.
The event also features the trademark “La Gran Batalla” dance based on a Moro-Moro dance tradition depicting St. James The Apostles’ conquest of the Moors. The dance became the subject of research and performance of the famed Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group and won acclaim in an international in Moscow in the 1980s.
Adding color to the celebration are visiting dancers from neighboring provinces such as Aurora, Pampanga, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, Baguio City and Benguet, making it a “festival of festivals”.
Navarro said that the success of the Pattaradday indicates that peaceful coexistence and unity in diversity is possible if it is the common aspiration of the people and the government puts its support behind it.
Because of its rich historical heritage, the festival was named three-time Best Tourism Event from 2006 to 2008 Awardee by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) and was elevated to its Hall of Fame.
Situated in the heart of Isabela, Santiago is the service center, agro-industrial and commercial hub of Cagayan Valley, and the first town to be converted into a component city in the region.
The festival is also an opportunity to showcase the economic strides the city has made since its conversion into a city in 1994.
It is also home to Muslim, Chinese and Indian minorities, and a bustling art community making Santiago a melting pot in northern Luzon.