Known for being a talented, energetic, and fun-loving nation, it’s no secret that Filipinos love to party! This is shown through the many colorful Fiestas held every year in the country. “Fiesta” is the Spanish term for “party” and is one of the tools Filipino colonizers used to spread their culture and religion. A century later and we’re still practicing the same or even more fiestas than we could ever imagine.
There are many kinds of Fiestas in the Philippines: ranging from religious fiestas that celebrate saints to cultural fiestas that celebrate specific seasons of the year. Fiestas are used to commemorate important events in history as well. Fiestas have become deeply embedded in our culture, varying in different regions. In this article, we will be guiding you through the 5 most sought-after fiestas celebrated in the Philippines.
5. Sinulog Festival in January - Cebu City
Attracting more than a million attendees, the Sinulog Festival is a religious festival held on the third Sunday of January and is considered to be one of the major Santo Nino Catholic celebrations in the Philippines. But despite the event’s popularity, only a few know about its origins. The term “Sinulog” is derived from the Cebuano adverb “sulog”, which roughly translates to “like water current movement” that describes the two steps forward and one step backward movements the Sinulog dance consists of.
Aside from celebrating the religious heritage of the rulers Rajah Humabon together with his wife Hara Amihan, the festival also brings people from different generations together, making the celebration better for everyone. The fiesta is a month-long celebration- so there are many community programs such as beauty and band contests, fun runs, documentary contests, rave parties, street dances, and float parades being held during the month that complete the whole celebration of the festival. Regarded as one of the most popular and highly-anticipated festivals in the country, Sinulog festival is a fiesta you wouldn’t want to miss.
4. Panagbenga Festival in February - Baguio City
Not only is it known as the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio city is also home to the Panagbenga Festival which takes place during the month of February- yes, the festival’s celebrations last for over a month. Universally known as the festival of flowers, the term Panagbenga is a “Kankanaey” term which means “season of blooming.” The festival came to existence to pay tribute to Baguio’s flora for the re-establishment of the city from the 1990 earthquake. Since then, the purpose of the celebration is to relish in the good things the city has continued to bring to its constituents. The festival is also supported by the residents of La Trinidad, La Union, Pangasinan, Marinduque and Masbate.
Various floral Float parades are held for over two days, countless community activities such as Mr. and Ms. Baguio Flower Festival, Skateboard Competitions, FM Panagbenga Pop Fiestas, local art shows and the like are being executed every year. Combine this with local festival food such as Strawberry Taho, Sundot Kulangot, and Strawberry Shawarma and what more could you ask for?
3. Kadayawan Festival in August - Davao City
The Kadayawan Festival held in Davao City mainly celebrates the good harvest nature has provided for the residents of the city. Celebrated on the third week of August, Kadayawan is a Mandayan term which means anything that brings celebrates the fortune of life and the gifts of nature. Various activities simultaneously happen from left to right during the fiesta; streets are decorated with local fruits and vegetables while people dance in the streets for four days. There are also native and power boat races being held in the local harbors.
The festival’s origin was an initiative of the government to showcase the city as a peaceful and colorful place to visit and invest in. This was during the time the region endured the chaotic martial law years, and this is how the city wanted to regain what it lost during the said period. Today, Kadayawan has transformed into a festival that honors culture, tradition, religion, art and the like, which makes Davaoenos even prouder of their region.
2. Moriones Festival - Boac, Gasan and Mogpog, Marinduque
Moriones Festival is a religious event held annually during the Holy Week (frequently regarded as Semana Santa) on the island of Marinduque. Morion means “mask” or “visor”, referring to the varying masked soldiers during Christ’s passion. Town people dress as figures from the Bible and the event culminates the re-enactment of the beheading of Longinus. According to the legend, Longinus pierced the side of the crucified Christ. The blood that was spewed in his blind eye restored his sight. This miracle converted Longinus to Christianity, but things don’t turn out well for him as the re-enactment reaches its peak when Longinus gets caught and beheaded. This has been the main attraction of the Moriones festival and celebrations.
Another highlight of the Moriones festival is the Via Crucis- a re-enactment of Christ’s suffering on his way to the calvary. The Via Crucis is characterized by men inflicting pain upon themselves by carrying a wooden cross, whipping their backs and even being crucified as a form of atonement for their sins. The Moriones festival is celebrated every year starting on Holy Monday and ending on Easter Sunday.
1. MassKara Festival in October - Bacolod City
Bacolod’s most renowned festival- the MassKara Festival kicks off annually every October (highlights of the fiesta are usually on the fourth Sunday of the month). The term “MassKara” is a form of word play; with “mass”, meaning a huge group of people and “cara”, meaning face (thus forming MassKara). Masks, or “maskara” in Tagalog are also a prominent feature of the festival, which highlights the smiling faces of the residents due to Bacolod’s reputation as “The City of smiles”.
Activities such as exhibits, dance contests, religious processions, pageants and the like are what the festival is comprised of. The MassKara Festival, like any other festival, started due to a period of crises such as the decline of the demand for sugarcane and the MV Don Juan tragedy that killed 700 citizens. The festival aims to remind everyone and the city’s residents that Bacolod will always be stronger than the challenges it faces. The colorful masks and costumes represent the vibrant attitude of the citizens in whatever obstacles they encounter.
With so much to see and so much to do in the many festivals taking place in the country every year, all you have to do is choose. So what are you waiting for? Pick a month, file for that leave and book a flight so that can you experience and celebrate some of the best Fiestas in the Philippines!