Saint Michael the Archangel, locally known as “San Miguel” is considered as Iligan’s protector against evil and healer of the sick. One of Iligan’s churches, the Cathedral of Saint Michael the Archangel was built in honor of this saint in the city center of Iligan. The church is fronting St. Michael’s College which is considered as the oldest school in the Lanao area, which was established as a catechetical center in 1914 by Fr. Felix Cordova. A year after, it was formally constituted as Escuela de San Miguel in honor of the patron saint of Iligan City, Saint Michael the Archangel.
The Church of San Miguel in Iligan is considered as one of the most visited churches in the city because of its miraculous powers that can defend and heal its devotees. Many have become walking witnesses and until this day, they continue to share the experiences brought about by St. Michael the Archangel’s divine abilities.
The feast of Senior San Miguel is held every 29th day of September. A ritual dance known as Diyandi is offered to the patron saint in a way of thanking him for everything he has done to the city. Other activities during this festival include the Eskrima dance, imitating the fight between San Miguel and his foes and the “Yawa-yawa” which literally means Devil-devil. Both of these two additional dances depicts the celestial combat between the good forces against the evil forces as shown by St. Michael the Archangel and Lucifer (the Light bearer), who was casted down to hell.
The Diyandi dance is not an inter-tribal marriage between a Muslim (moro) and a Lumad (“native” or “indigenous”). It is a ritual celebrated by the Higaunons, Muslims and Christians which are known as the tri-people. The word Diyandi has different meanings among the indigenous and the Muslims but as a general term, it stands as a feast to be celebrated by everyone. The ritual was done to pay respect to the patron saint who is said to be the defender among those who are assaulted and the healer among those who are sick. It is because of these legendary folk oral traditions and beliefs that the Muslims, the Lumads, and the coastal people or Christians celebrate as one in welcoming St. Michael’s feast. Until this day, the oral traditions of Iligan’s folk endlessly speak of St. Michael’s heroism through folk stories and beliefs.
In 1986, the local fiesta committee decided to change the name Diyandi into a more popular name to further enhance the tourism of the city of Iligan in the Philippines. They renamed it to “Kasadya Festival”, literally, “Happiness Festival”. Because of modernization, street dancing and other activities have been developed to promote both the city and groups who joined the celebration.
Sometime in 2004, the festival committee of Iligan renamed the “Kasadya Festival” celebration to “Diyandi Festival”. This move was done so the city will have a unique fiesta celebration and suitable to be called Iligan’s own.
The statue of Saint Michael the Archangel stationed at a small cell at the left side of the church will be “moved down” or placed outside of the church so devotees can pray and touch their patron saint during the fiesta celebration.
At the right corner of St. Michael the Archangel Church is the convent and office, next to it a small open room where folks light candles and pray to the statues of Jesus, Mary and the pSaints. Connected to it is the adoration chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and praying in silence is encouraged. Nearby is a group of therapist who offer (by donation) reflexology service every Mondays to Saturdays at 8am to 5pm.
The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Iligan can be contacted at telephone number (+63)(63) 221-3285. It has regular 12nn masses on weekdays and several schedules on Sundays. If you are in Iligan, be sure to attend mass or drop by the Cathedral of Señor San Miguel the Archangel and be protected and cured by its divine might.