E Pluribus Unum. Out of Many, One.

Just like the unofficial motto of the United States of America, this seems to be the message being imparted by City of Santiago in Isabela as it showcased character and unity in diversity in the Pattaradday Festival, a unique confluence of cultures and influences, in this crossroad in the Cagayan Valley.

“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.

Pattaradday Fest

The Ibanag word for unity, Pattaradday was initiated by civic leaders, the art community, and the city government to showcase local identity and Santiago’s origins.

The city is also home to Muslim, Chinese and Indian minorities, and a bustling art community.

The festival’s locus was the Grand Character Parade which highlighted Santiago’s recent declaration as a character city.  A local government unit is declared a “character town or city” if it integrates the development of the people’s moral values in governance.

Generosity character float

Character Float from Dinalungan, Aurora

Navarro said the city emphasizes prayerfulness, obedience, humility, perseverance, punctuality, honesty, responsibility, generosity, contentment, and forgiveness in its programs.

The event also showcased Santiago’s 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.

Gran Batalla with St James

The festival also coincided with the 17th cityhood day to celebrate Santiago’s march to progress.

To perpetuate the spirit of unity and character among the city’s townsfolk, she said that the Pattaradday Foundation was formed comprising of private and government sector representatives.

Adding color to the festivity were visiting festival dancers from Ibon Ebon of Candaba, Pampanga; Pandan Festival of Mapandan, Pangasinan, Panagbenga of Baguio City; Pindangan Fest San Fernando City, La Union; Dinalungan, Aurora; and Northern Luzon University in Dagupan City.

Dumagat tribesman from Aurora

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 promotes 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.

She pointed out that because of the spirit of amity, the city has bagged major awards in governance and environmental protection, and chosen venue for national cultural events.

Visitors can take a peek at the soul of the city at Balay na Santiago, the city’s museum, and tourism office and cultural center which houses ethnographic displays, an art gallery and antique furniture and home accessories from prominent families.

Antique furnitture at Balay na Santiago

Ethnographic display at Balay na Santiago

Mayor Amelita Navarro at Balay na Santiago


Balay also serves a refuge to visiting visual artists as part of Santiago’s art exchange program.

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 an independent component city in the region.

Regarded as a melting pot in north Luzon, the city is a transit point to Cagayan and Quirino. It can be reached via Cauayan Airport with daily flights by Cebu Pacific Air, or an eight-hour bus trip by Victory Liner.