Our Lady of Piat (Photo by Raymon Dullana)

From June 23 to July 2, the town of Piat in Cagayan celebrates what appears to be the longest Marian feast day in the country. In fact, the town holds two celebrations—Sambali Festival which is celebrated from June 23 to 30, and the actual Feast of Our Lady of Piat on July 1 and 2. 

With origins dating back to the 16th century, Our Lady of Piat is one of the most venerated Marian images in the country. The miraculous image, referred to as the “Mother of Cagayan,” is enshrined at the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat in the town of Piat, which is 30 minutes away by land from Tuguegarao City.

This pilgrimage site attracts a large number of devotees especially on July 1 and 2 when the feast of Nuestra Señora de Piat is celebrated.

The Sambali Festival focuses on the religious and cultural revival in the town that aims to commemorate the Christianization of the Itawes region of Cagayan. The Christianization of the Itawes people was believed to have happened because of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The fiesta is celebrated with activities that include include novenas, beauty pageant, sports tournaments, street dancing, and the famous cultural presentations by indigenous groups.

Thousands of pilgrims and devotees flock to the Basilica to participate in the festivities, with the fluvial procession venerating the holy image of Our Lady of Piat as a key highlight.

The parade starts from Aparri at the mouth of the Cagayan River to Buntun Bridge in Tuguegarao City and proceeds via a motorcade to Piat.

Because of the devotion to Our Lady of Piat by many Catholics in the country, the town of Piat has been called the “Pilgrimage Center of the North.”