We love feasts. Many occasions are an opportunity to celebrate. We now celebrate a Saints Birthday on dates formerly associatedwith animistic rituals. Festivals are colorful with often an inventive use of materials. Nearly each island has its festival, so only the most remarkable ones are noted. Visitors are welcome.
Feast of Black Nazarene
January 9th – Quiapo, Manila
A grand Fiesta and a religious activity, this festival centers on the image of the Black Nazarene which was transported by galleon from Mexico to Manila in the 17th century. The festival is marked by an afternoon procession by thousands of devotees. Even Filipino movie stars and TV personalities attend this event.
January 16-22 – Kalibo, Aklan
One of the most popular of the Philippine festivals, the Ati-atihan is a celebration in honor of the Sto. Niño. Revelers don colorful costumes and paint their bodies black and dance to the distictive beat of “Hala bira!” around the town.
Mostly Filipino youths participate in the programs. These youngters practice for a long time to perfect their performances. A lot of people enjoy this event because of the music and the tribal dance steps.
Every 2nd Saturday of January – San Joaquin, Iloilo
A festival of bulls on the hillsides of San Joaquin. Prized bulls from the town and neighboring areas fight amidst wild cheering from spectators.
Every third weekend of January – Cebu City, Cebu
The Feast of the Sto. Niño is celebrated in Cebu with a procession, street dancing competition and a fluvial parade. Much like the Ati-atihan, the Sinulog Festival is marked by frenzied reverly to the chant of “Pit Senor!”
Every fourth weekend of January – Iloilo City, Iloilo
Spectacle characterized by a frenetic stomping of feet and hypnotic drumbeating. It is a colorful whirl of thousands of people dressed in unique costumes dancing and chanting all day and night.
– Every third Sunday of January – Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur
The founding of Pagadian City showcases the Subanon tribe’s rich cultural heritage by way of songs, dances and exhibits of musical instruments.
Feast of Our Lady of Candles
February 2 – Jara, Iloilo City
The biggest and most opulent religiuos pageanty in Western Visayas. The blessing of candles and the yearly procession of the patroness, the Nuestra Senora de Candelaria is followed by the fiesta queen and her court which highlights the celebration.
23 February-3 March, Baguio City
Its 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-3 March, Malaybalay-Bukidnoon
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.
First Sunday of March – Iloilo City
An exciting race among native outriggers in the strait between Guimaras Island and Iloilo City. This is an activity every summer hedged with rules, umpires and kibitzers.
March 9 – Region XII
A worldwide Muslim festival celebrating the end of the month-long fasting period of the Holy Month of Ramadam by the Muslims.
April 1 – Cebu City
A lenten activity where devotees from Cebu City and its neighboring cities and towns do their penitential procession through cities the Station of the Cross built on 12 hectares of rolling hills. the life-size statues of the 14 Stations of the Cross have been patterned after the Way of the Cross in Lourdes, France.
Holy Week – Magpet, Cotabato
An anuual feast of the Manobo tribal community of Magpet in celebration of a bountiful harvest.
Holy Week – Boac,Magpoc, Marinduque
One of the most famous of Philippine festivals. Colorfully garbed and masked as Roman soldiers and centurions, locals reenact the life of Longinus culminating in his beheading. The entire towns of Boac, Morpog and Gasan are virtually converted into huge stages as the story as Longinus unfolds.
Good Friday – Pakil, Laguna
A procession of the centuries-old image of the Virgin Mary through the streets, procession, singing and dancing to the Turumba.
Ang Pagtaltal sa Guimaras
Good Friday – Jordan, Guimaras
Lenten presentation on the hillside of Jordan with locals as actors. This ala-Oberrammergou event has been attracting hundreds of foreign and domestic tourists: Local devotees’ visit usually culminates in the trek to “Balaan Bukid” or Holy Mountain where a huge cross is planted by the chapel overlooking Guimaras Strait and Iloilo City.
2nd or 3rd Week of april – Lamitan, Basilan
A yearly festival coinciding with the founding of Lamitan Municipality; showcases the traditional Yakan customs and traditions, music and dances, and traditional crafts.
Cutud Lentern Rites
16-18 April, San Fernando-Pampanga,
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.
2nd Week of April – Pangasinan
Annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. Known to local pilgrims / tourists as miraculous, the Virgin’s image has become one of Manaoag’s main attractions. Pilgrims’ vehicles are blessed every Saturday.
May 1 – Lingayen, Pangasinan
A day of thanksgiving for bountiful harvests and abundant fishing observed all over Pangasinan traditional with mass offering on beautiful beaches and fluvial parade.
May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 – Nationwide
The Santacruzan is a procession commemmorating 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.
May 14 – Angono, Rizal
Farmers pay tribute to their patron saints; a procession of carabao carts bearing a myriad local produce is held; prizes are awarded to the strongest and most beautifully decorated carabaos.
Pahiyas / Mayon / Agawan
11-15 May, Quezon
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 colourful, 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 centre 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.
May 14 – Pulilan, Bulacan
Hundreds of festively adorned carabaos are paraded by theis farmer-owners on the street leading to the church; there they are made to kneel down homage to San Isidro de Labrado, the patron saint of farmers.
Pahiyas sa Quezon
May 15 – Sariaya, Lucban, Tayabas, Quezon
Homes are decked with kiping (multi-colored paper thin, leaf-shaped rice kropeck) and harvested vegetables; trade fair; civic parades, procession and other activities.
Obando Fertility Rites
May 17 to 19 – Obando, Bulacan
A three day fiesta celebration in honor of San Pascual, Baylon, Sta. Clara and Nuestra Senora de Salambao. Childless couples, thankful parents, grateful farmers and fishermen dance along the streets together with colorfully customed women to pray for children and a good harvest.
Tapusan sa Kawit
May 30 – Kawit, Cavite
A procession of gaily decorated floats decked with flowers of Maytime honors the Blessed Virgin. The participation of the town’s most beautiful young ladies symbolizes the purity and innocence of the Blessed Mother.
May – Antipolo, Rizal
A month-long celebration that brings devotees and pilgrims to venerate the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage enshrined in Antipolo Church and afterwards, picnic to nearby Hinulugang Taktak.
June 12 – Kawit, Cavite
Independence Day Celebration, marked by a flag raising ceremony on the balcony of the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine, where the first Philippine flag was unfurled.
Pinyahan sa Daet
15-24 June, Daet-Camarines Sur
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 honour. Join the locals as they celebrate the Pineapple Festival featuring a colourful 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.
June 24, Murcia-Negros Occidental
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 sure fire way to mix our ecological concerns with good, clean, cloddy fun – just be sure to shower afterwards!
Parada ng Lechon
June 24 – Balayan, Batangas
The parading on the Feast of St. John the Baptist of “dressed” and decorated “lechons” (roasted pigs) around town. Revelers partake of the lechons after the parade.
June 29 – Tacloban City
Street pageantry and contest focusing on the Leyteños’ old custom of tattooing that signifies courage and status in the community.
1-2 July, Tagbilaran City
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 colourfully-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.
25 July, Dapitan City
An exotic and colourful 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 colour and innovation has made this annual revelry a popular attraction which brings thousands of visitors to the city.
Paaway sa Kabayo (Horse Fight)
July 25 and December 25 – Tanjay, Negros Orriental
An exciting, 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.
Bocaue River Festival
First Sunday of July – Bocaue, Bulacan
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.
Rajah Baguinda Festival
2nd Week of August – Jolo, Sulu
A three-day cultural show and festivites commemorating the arrival of Rajah Baguinda who was responsible for the spread of Islam and reinforcing the Sultanate Government in the Sulu Archipelago.
Kadayawan sa Dabaw
3rd Week of August – Davao City
A celebration of the bountiful harvests of fruits and orchids during the season. Activities include fruit and flower show, trade fair, tribal/civic/military parade, traditional sports activities, horsefight, Search for B’yaneng Kadayawan and street dancing.
Lemlunay (T’Boli Tribal Festival)
Septermber 16-18 – Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
An annual authentic T’boli tribal festival staged at Lake Sebu. Features tribal rituals that start at early down amidst sounds of gongs and native music, culminating at the town plaza where cultural dances and ethic sports like horsefight are held.
Feast of Nuestra Señora De Peñafrancia
3rd Saturday of September – Naga City, Camarines Sur
A religious festival held in hornor of the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. Bicol’s most revered patrones highlighted by the fluvial procession of the Lady’s image down the Bicol river. The week-long-celebration includes civic-military parade, sportsfests, exhibits, cultural shows, beauty pageants and colorful competitions.
Zamboanga City, 10-12October.
All roads in Mindanao lead to Zamboanga, as the “City of Flowers” celebrates its grand, annual Hermosa Festival. The vintas, those colourful 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!
October 19 – Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
The biggest annual event that reflects the Bacoleños love for fun and gaiety. Coinciding with Bacolod City’s charter day celebration, the festival features sports competitions, cultural programs, carnivals, beauty contest and a long Mardi grasstyle costumed and masked street dancers.
October 19-22 – Legaspi City
A celebration depicting Bicol’s early beginnings as portrayed in the “Ibalong” epic that tells of super heroes Handiong, Batlog and Oryol and villains and wild animals that roamed in the ancient times. In music and dances, revelers parade on the main streets wearing masks of these heroes and villains. Festival activities include tours, trade fairs, exhibits and beauty pageants.
La Naval de Manila
2nd Sunday of October – Sto. Domingo, Quezon City
A festival revolving around the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of La Naval 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.
Feast of San Clemente / Higantes Festival
November 22-23 – Angono, Rizal
Angono’s joyous fiesta in honor of San Clemente whose image, resplendent in papal vestment, is borne by male devotees during a procession accompanied by “pahadores (devotees dressed in colorful local costumes, wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles) and higantes” (giant paper mache effigies) The street event culminates in a fluvial procession in Laguna de Bay amidst revelry that continues until the image is brought back to its sanctuary.
Grand Cordillera Festival
November – Baguio City
One of the region’s major events held annualy featuring the gathering of tribes in a week-long event to “celebrate life” marked by tribal dancing and performances of thanksgiving rituals.
December 8 – Intramuros, Manila
A revival of religious tradition with more than 60 images of the Blessed Virgin Mary from various parishes and provinces paraded.
December 8 – Puerto Princessa, Palawan
A thanks giving celebration by the Tagbanua natives of Palawan in ritual dances and food offerings to their deities and souls of departed kin
Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion
December 8 – Intramuros, Manila
An Eucharistic celebrabration of the Feast Day of the La Immaculada, patroness of Intramuros, capped by a grand procession of more than 50 Marian images from all over the country and participated in by thousands of devotees.
December 18 – Legazpi City, Albay
A unique Christmas celebration 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.
San Fernando Giant Lantern Festival
December – Ermita, Manila
A fiesta in honor of one of the oldest Marian images in the country (it was found by Legazpi’s soldiers amidst the foliage of a pandan shrub on the shores of Ermita in 1571) – the La Nuestra Señora de Guia, patroness of seafarers and also known as Our Lady of Expectations. The main event of the fiesta is the Bota de Flores, a reenactment of a select group of young ladies and their escorts in sailor costumes of the procession returning the La Nuestra Señora de Guia to its reconstructed shrine in 1918.
December 28-30 – 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 of reunion with families, relatives and friends of homecoming Antiqueno expatriates.