The sleepy little town of Dapitan in the southern Philippines comes to life every 24th of July, eve of the Feast of Saint James the Apostle, with the townspeople coming out in the streets, waving branches as they dance and shout “Viva Señor Santiago!”
Saint James the Apostle is popularly known in this town as “Saint James the Moor-slayer,” a name given to the representation of the apostle as a legendary, miraculous figure who appeared at the also legendary Battle of Clavijo, helping Christians defeat the Moors.
The story was invented centuries after the alleged battle was supposed to have taken place.
Historian Jean Mitchell-Lanham noted that while the story is based on legend, “the supposed battle has provided one of the strongest ideological icons in the Spanish national identity.”
Dapitan is an old Spanish enclave in the predominantly Catholic Philippines since the coming of the Spanish colonizers in the 1500s. (Photos by Jose Adrias Torres for LiCAS News)