Philippine Festivals

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Since the Filipino people is one of the most joyful and sociable races, it comes not as a surprise that we have a long list of festivals and celebrations all year round. These festivals or fiestas, as they are commonly called, are some of the most anticipated events in the country. Fiesta season, which covers the months from December to May, attracts tourists from all the world.

Filipinos celebrate fiestas for various reasons. These include showing gratitude for good harvest, commemorating significant events in local history, and celebrating the feast days of saints. Philippine festivals are characterized by overflowing food, joyous music, and colorful games and contests.

Fiestas have become an unforgettable part of Filipino culture. Not only do they uplift the spirit of Filipinos, they also help in the growth of tourism in the country. Below is a list of some of the popular festivals in the Philippines.


Contents January · February · March · April · May · June · July · August · September · October · November · December ·

January

Ati-Atihan Festival, Kalibo, Aklan

A religious festival in the Philippines held every 9th of January. Barefooted men carry the life-sized statue of the Black Nazarene through the town while yelling "Viva Señor!"


Ati-atihan Festival, the "Mother of All Philippine Festivals," is celebrated through a series of merrymaking activities featuring the rich culture of Aklan. This local feast is known for its colorful street dancing as participants with black body paint and tribal costumes cheer “Hala Bira!” to the lively drumbeats. This is held in honor of the patron Santo Niño during the third Sunday of January.


A festival featuring the bulls on the hillsides of San Joaquin, Iloilo. Spectators cheer on their bulls fighting with other bulls inside the arena.


The feast is a celebration for the patron saint Sto. Niño through the traditional procession, street dancing competition and fluvial parade. Throughout the festivity, people will be heard chanting "Pit Señor!"


Dinagyang Festival is a spectacular event in the province of Iloilo where people in unique costumes dance all day and night to commemorate the Christianization of the natives and to honor the Holy Child Jesus. It has won several times in the Aliwan Festival and was also awarded as The Best Tourism event in the country by Association of Toursim Officers.


A festival that displays the Subanon tribe's rich cultural heritage with singing, dancing and exhibits of musical instruments.

February

The biggest and most opulent religious pageant in Western Visayas. The blessing of candles and the yearly procession of the patroness, the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, are followed by the fiesta queen and her court as the highlight of the celebration.


This month-long festival is a popular tourist attraction that showcases the grand parade of flowers and rich cultural traditions in Baguio City. This celebration is marked with the elaborate floral designs, street dancing, grand fireworks display, and other weekly activities that include local art shows and beauty pageants.

March

The Paraw Regatta Festival, Iliolo City

Summer in Iloilo City is traditionally highlighted with the race of hundred paraws (sailboats) along the water strait between Iloilo City and Guimaras during the Paraw Regatta Festival. The annual festival primarily intends to encourage local tourism and preserve paraws as part of the Ilonggo culture and history. Other activities include sail painting (Pinta Paraw), body painting (Pintawo), fishing tournament, and Regatta Model Search.


A festive celebration coinciding with town fiesta of patron St. Joseph that features the abundance of bananas through various activities such as cook fest, street dancing, and beauty pageants.

April

A Lenten activity wherein devotees from Cebu City and its neighboring cities and towns do a penitential procession through the Station of the Cross built on 12 hectares of rolling hills. The life-sized statues of the 14 Stations of the Cross have been patterned after the Way of the Cross in Lourdes, France.


This is an annual festival in celebration of an abundant harvest of Manobos in Magpet, Cotabato every Lenten Season.


The annual observance during the Lenten Season in Marinduque is marked by the folk-religious festival of Moriones which has become a foremost tourist attraction of the province. The festival relives the miraculous restoration of Longinus' (a Roman centurion who speared the crucified Christ) sight through a dramatic play. For an entire week, religious devotees parade on the streets of Boac, Gasan, and Torrijos with their intricately designed Moriones costumes of painted masks, helmets, and tunics.


People of Pakil, Laguna celebrates the Turumba Festival to commemorate the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a seven-day feast in honor of our lady of sorrows highlighted by a procession and a dance (to the beat of a turumba song).


Ang Pagtaltal sa Guimaras is a Holy Week presentation in the town of Jordan, Guimaras, a re-enactment of the Passion of Christ where local devotees join the pilgrimage at "Balaan Bukid" or Holy Mountain where a huge cross is planted by the chapel overlooking Guimaras Strait and Iloilo City.


This festival showcases the traditional Yakan customs and traditions, music and dances, and traditional crafts. Natives dressed in colorful attire participate in horse races, parades and a lot more.


Annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. Considered miraculous, the Virgin's image has become one of Manaoag's main attractions to local pilgrims and tourists. Pilgrims' vehicles are blessed every Saturday.

May

Flores de Mayo

This is a flower festival held in honor of the Virgin Mary all throughout the Philippines. Every afternoon for an entire month, songs of prayers and flowers are offered to the Blessed Mother. Sharing of local snacks follows after this daily ritual. This month-long festival culminates with a procession called Santacruzan.


A day of thanksgiving for bountiful harvests and abundant fishing observed all over Pangasinan traditionally with the celebration of Mass on the beautiful beaches and with a fluvial parade.


  • Santacruzan
    • Date: May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
    • Location: Nationwide

The Santacruzan is a procession commemorating St. Helena's finding the "True Cross"; preceded bya nine-day Novena in honor of the Holy Cross. On the ninth day, usually on a weekend, the Santacruzan is held. The Reina Elena, accompanied by a little boy representing King Constantine, and the other sagalas representing biblical characters and the attributes of the Blessed Virgin walk under gaily decorated arches.


This festival is celebrated on the feast day of San Isidro. The carabaos are groomed and are painted or are decorated, then the farmers lead their carabaos to parade around the town. The highlight of the activities is when the carabaos compete in a race.


Hundreds of festively adorned carabaos are paraded by their farmer-owners on the street leading to the church; there they are made to kneel down homage to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.


A colorful feast celebrated every 15th of May by the people of Lucban, Quezon in honor of San Isidro Labrador. The highlight is a procession along the streets where all houses are decorated with agricultural harvest (such as fruits, vegetables, rice grains, rice stalks, beautiful flowers and ferns) and with native pahiyas (decor) called kiping, a wafer of rice with various colors.


This lively celebration is done annually in honor of San Pascual, Baylon, Sta. Clara and Nuestra Senora de Salambao. During this feast, childless couples and farmers will be seen dancing along the street in belief that they will be granted with children and good harvest.


This is celebrated with a procession of floats brightly decorated with flowers of Maytime to honor the Blessed Virgin. The most beautiful young ladies in the town take part in the procession. The young ladies symbolize the purity and innocence of the Blessed Mother.


A month-long celebration that draws devotees and pilgrims to venerate the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage enshrined in Antipolo Church and afterwards, to picnic at the nearby Hinulugang Taktak.

June

The Independence Day Celebration is marked by a flag raising ceremony on the balcony of the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine, where the first Philippine flag was unfurled.


Filipinos' most famous festival food becomes the center of attention as the people of Balayan, Batangas line-up hundreds of lechon on the streets. These crispy roasted pigs are usually dressed as brides and grooms while others wear different apparel to delight the audience even before they savor the dish. This festival is also held along with the feast of their patron St. John.


Pintados festival is marked by street pageantry and a contest in Tacloban City, observed on June 29 that focuses on the Leyteños' old custom of tattooing that signifies courage and status in the community.

July

Sandugo Festival, Tagbilaran City, Bohol

This is an annual festivity held in commemoration of the first international treaty of friendship between Filipinos and Spaniards, led by Rajah Sikatuna and Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi through a blood compact. Among the highlights of the event are street dancing, dramatic reenactment of blood compact, and a beauty pageant. This celebration also coincides with the annual gathering of Boholanos known as "Tigum Bol-anon Tibuok Kalibutan."


A thrilling and oftentimes bloody fight among studs for supremacy over a female horse. More than 100 horses have been trained solely for this twice a year event.


A famous river festival held in honor of the miraculous Cross of Bocaue (Krus ng Wawa). During the fluvial procession, devotees ride in the "pagoda" and douse each other with water.

August

Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival, Davao City

Rajah Baguinda Festival is a three-day cultural show to commemorate Rajah Baguinda. He is the one responsible for the spread of Islam and for reinforcing the Sultanate government in Sulu. This is celebrated every 2nd week of August in Jolo, Sulu.


Davaoeños share a joyous celebration of life, culture, and bountiful harvest during the month of August. Considered as the mother of festivals in the region, the Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival has become one of the most well-known festivities among local and foreign tourists for its week-long activities culminating with a grand floral parade and street dancing.


A three-week celebration of shows and festivities celebrating Gapan cityhood. Activities include tsinelas parade, trade fair, sports events, the search for Mutya ng Lungsod ng Gapan, and street dancing.

September

This festival highlights the rich culture of the T'boli with the presentation of traditional music and instruments, cultural dances and ethnic sports (horse fights).


The Feast of Nuestra Señora Peñafrancia celebrated every 3rd Saturday of September in Naga City, Camarines Sur, is a celebration in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. Its week-long activities feature the fluvial parade of the patroness, sports fest, beauty pageant, and other cultural exhibitions.

October

Maskarra Festival, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

A blissful week of festivities takes place in the City of Smiles as Negrenses observe the annual Maskarra Festival. The colorful masks with smiling faces worn by the street dancers are primary attractions of the celebration. Aside from street dancing, the festival also features food fest, sports events, trade fairs, beauty pageant, and concerts. Part of this event is the commemoration of the city's anniversary.


This is a festivity that presents Bicol's early beginnings through the "Ibalong" epic. Revelers parade on the streets wearing masks of these heroes and villains.


A festival revolving around the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of La Naval, which was carved in 1533 and given as a gift to the Dominican Fathers. Borne on an elaborately decorated and well-lit carriage in the form of a ship, the venerated image is brought out of the church preceded by a dozen or so images of Dominican saints. The procession goes around the main streets of Sto. Domingo parish and then returns to the church amidst applause until it reaches the altar pedestal.


A festival of overflowing beers. This is celebrated with parties on different locations all over the country. The price of beer during this celebration plunges so deep that a glass of beer can even cost only one peso. This happens during the opening of the festival and mostly on the closing ceremonies. We should thank San Miguel Corporation for inventing this kind of Festival. The tagline for this feast is : OKTOBERFEST NAAAAH!

November

A prominent feature of this festival are the gigantic paper machés of human figures paraded in the town of Angono. In honor of San Clemente (patron saint of fishermen), participants of the procession dress themselves with fishermen's clothes and local costumes while carrying boat paddles, fish nets, and other fishing gear.


People in Baguio City gather annually to celebrate the culture and tradition of the major enthnolinguistic group of the region. This week-long festival features tribal dancing and thanksgiving ceremonies.

December

Giant Lantern Festival, San Fernando, Pampanga

A revival of a religious tradition with more than 60 images of the Blessed Virgin Mary from various parishes and provinces paraded.


This is a thanksgiving celebration by the Tagbanua natives of Palawan. This is held on the 8th day of December at Puerto Princesa, Palawan. In this celebration there are ritual dances and food offerings to their deities and souls of departed kin.


The Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion is a grand celebration in Puerto Princesa for the City's Patroness highlighted by parade of the images of Virgin Mary.


A unique Christmas celebration of Legazpi, Albay believed to have originated in the province where "pastores" - young men and women dressed in colorful shepherd costumes - joyfully dance and sing "Pastores a Belen" through the city streets.


From a lamp-lit procession, the annual celebration of Lantern Festival has become a major attraction during the Christmas season. A stunning display of lights and color happens during the festival night of lanterns in San Fernando as the designers of each lanterns (parols) compete for the biggest and most dynamic interplay of each creations during the five-minute show.


Location: San Jose, Antique

A festive commemoration of an episode in the history of the Filipino race through colorful pageants acted on the beaches of Maybato in San Jose and Malandog in Hamtik. Particularly interesting is the drama of the first Malay settlement at Malandog which runs for several days and nights. Binirayan is also an occasion for reunions of family, relatives and friends with homecoming Antiqueno expatriates.

References

  • "Philippine Festival and Events." Asiatravel.com. {accessed on July 16, 2007)

External Links


(to access the knowledge database on the Philippine Festivities, click Philippine Festivals link)


Citation

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