Its More Fun In The Philippines!
The fiesta 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 festival of all is
Christmas, a season celebrated with all the pomp and pageantry the fun-loving Filipino
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.
The ceaseless, rhythmic pounding of drums get to you, and before you know it you
are on the street, shuffling your feet, shaking your head, waving your hands – and
joining thousands of soot-blacked, gaily-costumed revelers in an ancient ritual of
mindless merriment. A familiar battle cry reaches your ears, and amidst all this
confusion you remember where you are: Kalibo, Aklan. “Viva, Sto. Niño!”
The Ati-Atihan celebration is echoed in many parts of the country.
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 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.
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 Flower Festival
23 February – 3 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 flowerbeds
– disguised, of course, as the Panagbenga parade floats.
28 February – 1 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.
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. All these are done to depict the story of the
conversion of Longuinus, the centurion who pierced Jesus’ side – and his subsequent
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.
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 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 festival showcases the creativity and
ingenuity of the townsfolk in their craft and culinary tradition.
A parade of the town’s loveliest ladies, depicting the search and discovery of
Christ’s Cross by Queen Helena and Constantine.
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
PINYAHAN SA DAET
Daet, Camarines Norte
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 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
A different sight and flavor are introduced in June with a festival in Balayan,
Batangas, popularly known as the “Parada Ng Lechon”. 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 –
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.
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 festival, and Miss Bohol Sandugo Beauty Pageant,
among the dozen of other exciting activities.
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 Saracan. 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.
KADAYAWAN SA DABAW
Davao’s annual 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.
BONOK-BONOK FESTIVAL & SILOP CAVE ADVENTURE
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.
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
All roads in Mindanao lead to Zamboanga, as the “City of Flowers” celebrates its
grand, annual Hermosa 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!
The festival that made Bacolod famous began as an event to inspire the locals to face the hard times with a smiling face, thus masks with smiling faces are worn by revelers who join the parade. Street dancing, drum beating, drinking, eating and just being merry – all this show the resiliency of Negrenses and their zest for life.