Are you interested in partaking in some of the most epic festivals in the Philippines? Immerse yourself with the unique language, friendly locals, and colorful culture by joining the Filipinos in some of the most sacred festivals there is in the country. Since the Philippines has been under the Spanish regime for more than 300 years, it comes almost second nature for most people to have a unique love for festivals. As part of the Spanish’s strategy to convert the locals, the Spaniards assigned a patron saint for every town, which still exists today. Want to know more about this? Read on below!
Aside from the drop-dead gorgeous historical sites, natural wonders, and thrilling outdoor adventures, the Philippines is also the home of the world’s best festivals. And when we say festivals, the Filipinos mean a whole week of partying, dancing, eating, and drinking. In fact, even months before the actual festival, the locals will prepare the costumes, the streets and start putting up the strikingly colorful fiesta decorations at every corner!
The Importance Of Festivals In The Philippines
Are you wondering why there are so many festivals in the Philippines? This is because the locals do not just have national or religious festivals. Still, each province also has its own seasonal and cultural celebrations that feature the items that they are best known for. For instance, the place Dasmarinas in Cavite, Philippines, celebrates the Paru-Paro festival (butterfly festival). In contrast, General Santos City in South Cotabato, Philippines, celebrates the Tuna festival since they are the largest tuna fish producers. Amazing, right!
Every year, the Philippines hold some of the most colorful festivals in the world to pay homage and celebration to the patron saints and history of every province. For this reason, tourists flock over the country, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is best known for the tagline “it’s more fun in the Philippines!” Depending on the type of the Philippine festival, the celebration can last for a whole week, and you can expect the local streets to be filled with brightly colored lanterns, fiesta banderitas (from the Spanish word banderita, which means small flag), tiangge (small bazaar/flea market) and street party songs on full volume.
You can also expect week-long highlights of cultural street dances, a buffet of local delicacies, a religious parade, huge decorated floats, and even beauty pageants featuring local costumes made by Filipino artists. In addition to that, Philippine festivals also pave the way for the unification of the family as it is a tradition for every family member to be back at their hometown and join the celebration. During times like this, families bond over some of the popular foods and even invite colleagues and friends to join the festival.
Below are some of the reasons why the festivals in the Philippines are deemed important:
- The mardi gras-style celebrations are done to express gratitude to the patron saints for their guidance and gift of harvest.
- Religious festivals like the Sinulog (for Sto. Nino) and Higantes festival (for San Clemente) are celebrated since it is traditionally known to provide good fortune to those who will attend.
- Philippine town fiestas are important for the locals since it highlights the defining moments of the town. It’s a connection to the history of a certain place.
- It helps keep history alive, and it somehow gives the younger generation a chance to experience the culture and tradition of their ancestors.
Are you ready to get to know more about the festivals in the Philippines? Read on below for the top 10 most popular ones.
The Ati Atihan Festival Of Kalibo, Aklan
The Ati atihan religious festival is held in honor of Santo Niño (the Child Jesus) in almost every town in the province of Aklan. It is known as the mother of all Philippine festivals and is celebrated on the third week starting with Sunday of January. Usually, the street dancers here color themselves black since it is believed that the charred color is reflective of the original traditions of the Ati people. Moreover, it is an important festival since it also signifies the peace pact between the warring tribes of Aklan.
The Panagbenga Festival Of Baguio City
The Panagbenga festival or flower festival is a month-long fest in Baguio City where it highlights Filipino flora. As part of the event, which starts on the first day of February, you can expect a street parade of flowers, dancing, and many strawberry-based delicacies since Baguio is known for its strawberry plantation. It is an important festival for Filipinos since it celebrates the season of blooming and the resilience of the Baguio people after the violent earthquake in 1990.
The Pahiyas Festival Of Lucban, Quezon
The Pahiyas festival in the Philippines features the fruits and vegetables from the country since it celebrates the feast of San Isidro Labrador (patron saint of farmers). It is usually observed on the fifteenth of May and is best known for its fantastic festival dance competition. During this time, you can expect houses in Lucban, Quezon to suddenly become so colorful and have kiping as decorations. Kiping is basically a leaf-shaped wafer made of rice and is best served grilled or fried with sauce.
The Moriones Festival Of Marinduque
The Moriones festival of the Philippines is a religious one that is held during the Holy Week on Marinduque. Since a majority of the Filipinos are Catholic, this event is where men and women dress in costumes and morion masks similar to the Roman soldiers. This is an important event since it features the story of Saint Longinus, a half-blind Roman centurion who pierced Jesus in his side while He was at the cross.
It only fits that this event takes place in Marinduque as the place is known as the Lenten Capital of the Philippines.
The Dinagyang Festival Of Iloilo City
The Dinagyang festival in the Philippines is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Jan, immediately after the Sinulog festival. It is particularly important for the Filipinos as it shows admiration to the Santo Niño, and it also reminds us of the day the Malay immigrants arrived on the Philippine shores. This spectacular event features a parade of lights, tribal competition, arts festival, and beauty pageantry. In addition to that, this is the time of the year where Iloilo locals serve all the mouthwatering dishes like the Tinu-om (boiled native chicken), Batchoy (egg noodles with garlic, pork meat, and bone marrow), and Pancit Molo(soup dish with yummy dumplings)!
The Kadayawan Festival Of Davao City
The Kadayawan festival in the Philippines is a vital event that shows thanksgiving to the good harvest, life, and nature. It is welcomed through a celebratory dance annually every 3rd week of August. As part of the street dance, the Filipinos wear warrior-like costumes with brightly colored paints.
The Sinulog Festival Of Cebu City
The Sinulog Festival is a religious festival celebrated every third Sunday of January and is best known to last for about 9 full days in Cebu City. The main street dancing steps (also known as ritual prayer-dance steps) include two steps forward and one step backways along with a rhythmic sway.
The Pintados Festival Of Tacloban City
The Pintados is a festival that features the body-painting traditions of the “pintados” of the Tacloban. These Pintados are known as warriors, and this is why the street dancing steps are somewhat similar to tribal combat. Aside from that, this special day also gives honor to Sr. Santo Niño.
The MassKara Festival Of Bacolod City
The Masskara festival in the Philippines is extremely popular since it showcases the artistic qualities of the Bacolod people. During this time, the locals wear brightly colored masks, so the Bacolod has become branded as the City of Smiles. It is held on the fourth Sunday of October.
Giant Lantern Festival Of The City Of San Fernando
The Philippines is known in the world as one of the countries with the most extended celebration of Christmas, right? Well, one of the reasons behind that is the much-awaited Giant Lantern Festival every December at San Fernando. During this time, places in the Philippines send in their entries as they all want to win the best lantern award.
Ready To Experience A Festival In The Philippines?
Want to be part of the ati atihan festival, pahiyas festival, or the masskara festival next year? Before you book your ticket for January or look for hotels in Cebu, we highly encourage you to check out the dates first for 2021 and learn the language of the Philippines first using our most recommended app, the Ling App!
The Ling App is a free language learning tool developed by Simya Solutions, and it features fun courses and quizzes for over 60+ languages from across the globe. It is available for download on your mobile phone so that you can learn anytime and anywhere for as short as 10 minutes a day. So, what are you waiting for? Check the Ling App Today!