Festivals in the Philippines
This is a partial list of festivals in the Philippines, known as “fiestas”. The origin of most early fiestas are rooted in Christianity, dating back to the Spanish colonial period when the many communities (such as barrios and towns) of the predominantly Catholic Philippines almost always had a patron saint assigned to each of them. Originally encouraged by the Spanish to coincide with Christian holy days, early festivals became vital instruments in spreading Christianity throughout the country.
Fiestas in the Philippines can be religious, cultural, or both. Several of these are held to honor the local Roman Catholic patron saint, to commemorate local history and culture, to promote the community’s products, or to celebrate a bountiful harvest. They can be marked by Holy Masses, processions, parades, theatrical play and reenactments, religious or cultural rituals, trade fairs, exhibits, concerts, pageants and various games and contests.
Feast of Black Nazarine
The procession of Black Nazarene in Manila (photo courtesy of denvie balidoy)
Considered as the largest annual religious procession in the Philippines, the Feast of Black Nazarine celebrates an over 200 year old statue of a black Christ figure, said to bring good luck to those who participate or come to pay honor. The procession of barefoot men and women takes place in Quaipo, Manila on January 9th and Good Friday.
A woman during the Sinulog Festival (photo by George Parrilla)
Every third Sunday of January, Cebu City celebrates Santo Niño with Sinulog Festival. During the highlight of the festival, the streets are filled with energetic street dancers performing the traditional Sinulog dance wearing an intricate and colorful costumes.
Kadayawan Street Dancers
Kadayawan takes place in Davao and is a celebrated during the month of August with various events including ethnic dance demonstrations and competitions as well as a trade fair and exhibit. It’s a harvest celebration and is one of the most cheerful festivals in the Philippines.
Lucban Pahiyas Festival
On May 15 every year, Lucban in Quezon celebrates Pahiyas Festival in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Fresh fruits and vegetables are set out on houses and buildings as decorations. The decorations are judged and the best is given awards and prizes.
Ati-Atihan Festival (photo by Wikipedia)
Another January festival, Ati-Atihan is the annual tribute to the baby Jesus in Kalibo, Aklan. A celebratory display of costumes, weapons, music, and dance is meant to celebrate the Santo Niño. The festival has inspired many other Philippine Festivals including the Sinulog Festival of Cebu and Dinagyang of Iloilo, both adaptations of the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Festival.
Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City
On the fourth Sunday every January in Iloilo City, Dinagyang Festival is another celebration of Jesus that includes a huge feast and a mascot called Dagoy who represents the traditional Aeta people of the islands. The Dinagyang is divided into three Major events: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing and Miss Dinagyang.
Incredible costumes and days of celebrations are typical of Masskara festival in Bacolod City. It’s a giant masquerade party and one of the most fun and most widely known festivals of the Philippines. It’s held in the third week of October, on or around Oct 19th. The festival features a street dance competition where people from all walks of life troop to the streets to see colorfully masked dancers gyrating to the rhythm of Latin musical beats in a display of mastery, gaiety, coordination and stamina.
Masskara Festival Performer
Major activities include the MassKara Queen beauty pageant, carnivals, drum and bugle corps competitions, food festivals, sports events, musical concerts, agriculture-trade fairs, garden shows, and other special events organized ad-hoc every year.
Panagbenga Flower Festival
Also known as the Flower Festival, this beautiful and celebratory event embodies many of the best things about the Philippines. Celebrating people dressed in beautiful, colorful, elaborate flower themed costumes. Baguio City turns into one big party during February each year for Panagbenga Festival.
Marinduque Moriones Festival
Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday is celebrated in Marinduque with intricate Roman soldier costumes called Moriones. The wearers are both celebrated and a symbol of the self-cleansing of this time of year. They play tricks and cause trouble and their real identities are unknown. A huge search for Longino is undertaken on Easter Sunday and is sacrificed after being caught a third time. The drama is is engaging and the crowd is involved, making this one of the most unique festivals in the country.
Higantes Festival (by IvanLakwatsero.com)
In Angono in Rizal, the Higantes Festival is another incredible example of the devotion and dedication that Filipinos put into their festivals. The Higantes, or giants, are huge paper mache people that can be as tall as 12 feet high and about five feet in diameter. It’s held on November 23rd and celebrates the patron saint of fishermen, San Clemente.
These are the 10 Most Popular Festivals in the Philippines. But there are more that you can learn about and attend if you want to experience the fun and drama of festivals in the Philippines.