Festivals in the Philippines: Part 1
Let’s admit it, we Filipinos just love celebrating and we are no novice when it comes to organizing Philippine festivals. In fact, we are so adept in this business that the way we celebrate our fiestas tend to be so grand and colorful. This is the same reason our celebrations draw much attention from both local and foreign tourists.
The majority of the Philippine festivals are religious in nature while others are simply important events worth commemorating. Some fiestas are considered a major one, some are not; nevertheless, you have to experience them at least once to learn more and appreciate the Filipino culture.
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Philippine Festivals You Should Experience at Least Once in Your Lifetime
Feast of Black Nazarene
Every 9th of January, Quiapo, Manila
Every 9th of January, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos join the procession of the life-sized Black Nazarene around Quiapo, Manila. During the procession, the men are barefoot and chant “Viva Senor!” This tradition started back from the 17th century. The statue of the Black Nazarene, which was brought from Mexico to Manila in 1606, is heavily guarded during this time as people will try to touch any part of it, believing that a miracle can happen if they are able to touch it.
Every third Sunday of January, Cebu City, Cebu
Sinulog is probably the biggest among Philippine festivals. Millions of tourists visit Cebu during the two-week festivity in honor of Sr. Sto. Niño. It is highlighted by several activities including solemn procession, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of devotees coming from various parts of the country followed by the fluvial parade and the popular street dancing by different contingents wearing festive costumes holding Sto. Niño statues.
Every 16th to 22nd of January, Kalibo, Aklan
Ati-atihan is another fiesta in celebration of Sto. Niño this time in Aklan. In this event, participants of the parade cover their whole body with soot, wear indigenous costumes, and do tribal dances in the street to the rhythm of loud drum beats and other native instruments. A lot of tourists opt to paint their faces as well just to enjoy the experience.
Every third weekend of January, Makati
Makati is Philippines’s central business district and Caracol festival is their version of Mardi Gras. The celebration is their way of honoring Mother Nature and promoting the preservation and protection of our environment and inhabitants, that’s why participants are all dressed as flowers, plants, forest animals sea creatures, and insects. Unlike other Philippine festivals that started from decades ago, Caracol festival is very recent. It was just a program by the Department of Tourism in 1989 that was made official by the city government of Makati in 1991.
Every fourth weekend of January, Iloilo City, Iloilo
Dinagyang Festival is an annual celebration to pay homage to Sto. Niño and commemorate the conversion of the locals of Iloilo to Christianity. Just like Sinulog, there is a colorful parade around the street that includes dramatization while everyone chants “Viva Señor Sto. Niño!”
Feast of Our Lady of Candles
Every 2nd of February, Jara, Iloilo City
Apart from Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo also celebrates annually the Feast of our Lady of Candles. The statue of Blessed Virgin Mary carrying a candle is the patroness of Jara, Iloilo. The story is that the stone image of the Virgin Mary was first seen by the local fisherman floating in the river in 1587. They tried to lift it off the water but were unsuccessful because it felt so heavy despite its one-foot size. Only when they decided to bring it to Jara that they were able to remove it from the water. The locals believe that the image of Lady of Candles is miraculous.
Every 23rd of February through 3rd of March, Baguio City
Baguio is known as the flower capital of the Philippines. No wonder they have a flower festival famously called Panagbenga Festival, the city’s biggest. In this occasion, both the local and foreign tourists will be treated to street dancing, various beautiful floral floats, and band exhibitions.
Every 28th of February through 3rd of March, Malaybalay, Bukidnon
Kaamulan Festival in Bukidnon is considered the most original among Philippine festivals. It’s a cultural celebration of seven ethnic tribes of the province namely the Matigsalug, Tigwahanun, Higaunu, Umayamnun, Manobo, Bukidnon, and Talaandig. Spectators witness the tribes showcase their ancient rituals, native dances, and their ethnic music. This kind of festival is something that should be passed on to let the younger generation know of this beautiful tradition of our ancestors.
First Sunday of March, Iloilo City
Every first Sunday of March, the biggest sailing event in the Philippines takes place in Iloilo, the Paraw Regatta Festival. The festival is a tribute to the local voyaging traditions. During this event, there are various activities that you can take part of and enjoy, including fishing contests, water sports tournament, paraw race, beauty pageant, and photo contests.