Guide to Popular
The Philippine Festival is part and parcel of Filipino culture. Through good times and bad times, the fiesta must go on. Each city and barrio has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, so that there is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the country.
But the biggest and most elaborate Philippine Festival of all is Christmas, a season celebrated with all the pomp and pageantry the fun-loving Filipino can manage.
Below are listed the more popular Festivals and Fiestas in the Philippines. On the right column are detailed descriptions on the popular festivals around the Philippines. Listed below are the different fiestas according to the month.
Kalibo, Aklan, 13-19 January
The Ati-Atihan Festival commemorates the 13th century land deal between 10 migrating Bornean chieftains and the aboriginal Ati King Marikudo. It also honors the town patron, the infant Sto. Niño.
This is one of the Philippine festivals that, with its ceaseless and rhythmic pounding of drums, get to you and before you know it you find yourself shuffling your feet on the street, shaking your head and waving your hands. Its difficult to resist joining thousands of soot-blacked, gaily-costumed revelers in an ancient ritual of merriment. This is Kalibo, Aklan. "Viva, Sto. Niño!"
Cebu City, 3rd week of January
Cebu City's fiesta of fiestas. Characterized by its peculiar two-steps-forward-and-one-step-backward shuffle, thus simulating the Holy Child of the shores. The Sinulog is one of the Philippine festivals with a century-old tradition observed in the part of Visayas region. The prayer-dance is synchronized to the beat of drums and shouts of "Pit Señor! Viva Sto. Niño!" Feel free to dance with the best of them, grooving all the way to the grand final presentation at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Iloilo City, 25-26 January
Merry mayhem breaks loose in Iloilo City during this weekend, when Ilonggos leave everything behind to join in the fiesta of the year. All inhibitions are dropped: boring everyday clothes are exchanged for "Ati" warrior costumes and black body paint. Shields and "weapons" are held amidst the pounding rhythm of drums, the costumed Ilonggos put their best feet forward in celebration of…..Dinagyang!
Baguio City's Flower Festival, February/March
It's flower season in the city of Pines - perfect timing for an all-out fiesta in the streets. The Baguio folk take a break on these days to revel in the cool climate and the unique culture of the city. Multi-hued costumes are worn, mimicking the various blooms of the highland region (or any of its 11 ethnic tribes). These are moving flowerbeds the Panagbenga parade floats.
Malaybalay, Bukidnon, February/March
Expect the Bukidnon to go tribal from the first to the second week of March, when the streets of Malaybalay take on that familiar fiesta theme. Banners, banderitas, and beer will be norm, as well as the sweet, haunting sound of native music. An early morning pamuhat ritual kicks off the festivities, to be followed by an ethnic food fest, trade fairs, and a lot of native dancing. Kaamulan is one of the Philippine festivals that is truly authentic tribal celebration.
Marinduque, Lenten Season
The island of Marinduque prides itself in being the "Lenten Capital of the Philippines", and it is easy to understand why. Come the seven days of Holy Week, the people of the island take part in the age-old ritual of the "Moriones". Colorful warrior costumes are worn, topped with finely carved masks depicting the fierce Roman soldiers of Christ's time. A Philippine festival that depicts the story of the conversion of Longuinus, the centurion who pierced Jesus' side - and his subsequent beheading.
CUTUD LENTEN RITES
San Fernando, Pampanga, 16-18 April
Prayer of a different meaning during the Lenten season, when villagers of San Pedro, Cutud, engage in the act of self-flagellation. This ancient ritual is performed in the morning of Good Friday during the Holy Week. Backs, arms, and legs are cut and then struck with burillo whips. The climax to this occasion happens at midday, when penitents are literally nailed to their waiting crosses.
Quezon , 11-15 May
Flowers come out in May, but these aren't the only things flaunted during this merry month. Down south in the town of Lucban, Quezon, there's also the kiping - a colorful, translucent rice tortilla that serves as an edible ornament of sorts. You will see lots of these at the Pahiyas Philippine Festival, an annual celebration held to usher in a bountiful harvest, and smashing good times.
It's a free-for-all, grab-all-you-can affair with suman-sweet, sticky native rice cakes-as the center of contention. It is also the grand prize, so feel free to join the fray. Rest assured, whether you get handfuls or just a mere mouthful, the Mayohan sa Tayabas will leave you wanting for more - suman, of course!
Sariaya's own version of the San Isidro Philippine Festival showcases the creativity and ingenuity of the townsfolk in their craft and culinary tradition.
FLORES DE MAYO/SANTACRUZAN Festival
Nationwide during the May
A parade of the town's loveliest ladies, depicting the search and discovery of Christ's Cross by Queen Helena and Constantine.
Murcia, Negros Occidental; 24 June
Oneness with nature is the underlying theme behind Murcia's annual mud-moving spectacle. Check on its murky highlight - a lively street dancing parade with the participant wearing nothing but mudpacks (well, almost...). It's a surefire way to mix our ecological concerns with good, clean, cloddy fun - just be sure to shower afterwards!
Daet, Camarines Norte, 15-24 June
Sweet, succulent pineapple is the fruit of choice for the people of Daet, Camarines Norte. In fact, they loved it so much that they made a festival in its honor. Join the locals as they celebrate the Pineapple Philippine Festival featuring a colorful street presentation complemented by art exhibits, trade fair, cultural dances, and sport events. Feel rich when you go for a visit at Paracale Gold Mines, and be acquainted with some Bicol heroes like Vinzon and Panganiban and Lucban.
PARADA NG LECHON Parade Festival
Balayan, Batangas, 24 June
A different sight and flavor are introduced in June with a Philippine Festival in Balayan, Batangas, popularly known as the "Parada Ng Lechon" or Lechon Parade. These succulent roasted pork form the highlight of the occasion, decked out in their platforms with all kinds of décor. Since the festival coincides with the feast of St. John the Baptist, be prepared to get wet as people observe the feast by repeating the ritual of baptism - pouring water.
Tacloban City, 29 June
Back during pre-Hispanic years, tattoos signified courage among the natives of Tacloban. These days they symbolize a cultural revival, and a wild, wacky fiesta called the Pintados. Join the town residents as they deck themselves out in body paint, mimicking the warriors of old while dancing to the frenetic beat of drums.
Tagbilaran City, 1-2 July
The Spanish colonization of the Philippines began with a blood-sealed peace treaty on the shores of Bohol. This historic event is remembered today with an all-out fiesta at the island's capital city. Check out the Sandugo street dancing parade featuring ten colorfully-dressed groups dancing to the beat of drums. There's also a traditional Filipino carnival, a martial arts Philippine Festival, and Miss Bohol Sandugo Beauty Pageant, among the dozen of other exciting activities.
Dapitan City, 25 July
An exotic and colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars, particularly the Battle of Covadonga where the Spanish forces under General Pelagio took their last stand against Saracen. They were able to reverse the tide through the miraculous apparition of St. James. The addition of local color and innovation has made this annual revelry a popular attraction which brings thousands of visitors to the city.
Davao City, 20-24 August
Davao's annual Philippine Festival, Kadayawan Sa Dadaw promises another weekend of fanfare and fun - tribal style. Watch as the festivities reach a glorious climax on Saturday morning: that's when the Kadayawan parade is held, featuring colorful, orchid-bedecked floats and more than a dozen "ethnic" groups dancing to the beat of wooden drums.
Surigao City, 9 September
Behind Surigao's multi-faceted culture is its original tribal background. The Surigaonons go back to their roots this month as they celebrate their heritage with a loud, rowdy street dancing parade. Includes the SILOP CAVE ADVENTURE
Naga City, 20 September
Bicol Region's biggest celebration is an annual affair that combines religion with culture and tradition, packing it all in a 9-day fiesta of biblical proportions. Stay until sundown for stirring climax: the fluvial parade as it makes its way down the river, surrounded by a sea of glowing candles - a fitting end of this truly spiritual occasion.
Zamboanga City, 10-12 October
All roads in Mindanao lead to Zamboanga, as the "City of Flowers" celebrates its grand, annual Hermosa Philippine Festival. The vintas, those colorful native sea boats, once again make their appearance in a fast-paced, race-till-you-drop regatta. There's also a wealth of cultural and flower shows, art exhibits, and trade fairs. It's an all-out celebration of life - Chavacano style!
Bacolod City, 14-21 October
The carnival spirit fills the air as masked participants donning fabulous costumes dance there way around the city's main thoroughfares. This annual event reflects Bacolenos' love for fun and gaiety. Coinciding with the city's character day celebration, the Philippine Festival features carnivals, fairs, and madri-gras style street dancing.
Camiguin Island, 25-28 October
Camiguin Island's favorite fruit becomes the object of adoration in this superb street dancing extravaganza. Watch the streets of Mambajao become colorful, lively stages as the Camiguinons strut their stuff; dressed in the costumes of the Mindanao tribes, and carrying bunches of sweet, sumptuous lanzones. Everyone is welcome to join the fun - it is a come-as-you-are, eat-all-you-can, and dance-till-you-can affair.
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PINTA FLORES Festival
San Carlos City, 3-5 November
This city in the sugar-producing island of Negros Occidental honors its patron saint, San Carlos Borromeo, with a pageant where participants with floral painted bodies dance in rhythmic beat as they wind through the major streets. The Philippine Festival is inspired by the tattooed Negrenses of pre-colonial times.
SAN CLEMENTE/HIGANTES Festival
Angono, Rizal, 23 November
A fiesta of "gigantic" proportions, this one is highlighted by a grand procession featuring the higantes, ten-feet papier-mâche puppets, surrounded by a crowd of drenched, water-fighting revelers. Better bring your squirt gun if you want to join the fun. It is a water-logged event that is sure to leave you wet n' wild - and wanting for more.
SHARIFF KABUNSUAN Festival
Cotabato City, 15-19 December
Cotabato City's Moslem population celebrates the arrival of Islam to the region with a series of fun-filled activities. No need to go native to enjoy these - there's a fluvial parade, an outrigger boat race, as well as various musical and athletics events.
GIANT LANTERN Festival
San Fernando, Pampanga, 3 December
San Fernando makes the biggest, most spectacular lanterns, at around 40 feet in diameter and bearing thousands of light bulbs a piece. Watch them all in their twinkling, blinking, flashing glory in this grand Christmas exhibit.
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