Traditional Kapampángan New Year Rites:
ÁPUNG IRU FLUVIAL FESTIVAL (Líbad nang Ápung Irû)
June 28-30 • Apalit, Pampanga
Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Philippines
The town of Apalit is famous for its 3-day feast of its patron saint, St. Peter (locally named Ápung Irû), which involves fluvial processions of the saint’s miraculous 300-year-old image on a decorated pagoda on the Pampanga River during the last days of June. This is held during the traditional Kapampángan New Year of Báyung Danum (“New Water”) at the start of the rainy season.
The festival is listed in the Philippine Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage (PIICH), under Domain 3: Social Practices, Rituals, and Festive Events.
During the procession, devotees ride boats along with the ornately decorated pagoda of the image. They also throw food into the water as an offering and sprinkle each other with river water which is believed to have been blessed by Ápung Irû.
[Kapampángan New Year]
This festival is believed to have been syncretized from precolonial celebrations for the original river god Ápung Irû (crocodile god who held the earth on its back) during the start of the rainy season for the planting season and to appease the gods to prevent floods. Spanish friars later christianized the tradition by introducing St. Peter whose feast day coincided with the timing of these ancient holidays.