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10 Most Colorful Philippine Festivals You Should Not Miss

Updated on February 13, 2014
Festivals. More Fun in the Philippines.
Festivals. More Fun in the Philippines. | Source

Festivals and fiestas have always been a part of the Filipino culture. Every town and city in the Philippines observes its own annual festival to pay respect to the town's patron saint, mark a special event in the history, or give thanks for a bountiful harvest.

Celebrated all year round in various parts of the country, there is always a Philippine festival happening around as it give new meaning to merry-making, street dancing, and colorful parades. These local festivities also provided an opportunity to showcase the town's local products and native cuisine.

There are hundreds of astonishing and breath-taking festivals in the Philippines. Check out the short list below of the ten fascinating Philippine festivals that you should not miss when visitign the country.

The Lively Celebration of Ati-Atihan Festival
The Lively Celebration of Ati-Atihan Festival | Source

1. Ati-atihan Festival

Ati-atihan Festival is celebrated every third Sunday of January in Kalibo, Aklan in honor of the town patron Infant Jesus, more popularly known as Santo Nino. Ati-athan means "making like an Ati" or "pretending like an Ati", the aboriginals of Aklan.

Visitors will definitely get a thrill as Negritos darken their skin with soot or ash and wear colorful tribal costumes as they dance on the beat of the tribal drums and shout "Hala Bira!" or "Viva, Sto. Nino!", which kicks off the procession. Before anyone could notice it, people in the streets shuffle their feet, shake their head, and wave their hands to the rhythmic beat of the drums.

A contingent of the Sinulog Festival Grand Parade
A contingent of the Sinulog Festival Grand Parade | Source

2. Sinulog Festival

Like Ati-Atihan Festival, Sinulog Festival every third Sunday of January in Cebu City to pay respect to the Sto. Nino, the patron saint of the city. It also commemorates the period when Filipinos welcomed the Roman Catholic religion, as an influence of the Spanish conquerors.

The week-long celebration is one of the grandest and most elegant festivals in the Philippines. Millions of devotees from different parts of the country come to Cebu to join the different activities, such as fluvial procession, concelebrated mass, and street dancing.

The main event is the street dancing where participants parade to the beat of the drums and gongs, while wearing dazzling costumes and headdresses. Some street dancers even paint their body in brilliant colors. There is also a fluvial procession held the day before the parade.

The Different Colors of Dinagyang Festival
The Different Colors of Dinagyang Festival | Source

3. Dinagyang Festival

Dinagyang Festival is both a cultural and religious festival held in Iloilo City every fourth Sunday of January. It is considered a cultural celebration to commemorate the arrival of Malay settlers on the Island of Panay and how the Atis sold the island to these settlers. Similar to Ati-Atihan and Sinulog Festivals, Dinagyang Festival is also a religious festival because it gives honor to Sto. Nino, the Infant Jesus.

The Dinagyang Festival started in November 1967 after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, a local Roman Catholic priest, introduced the devotion to Sto. Nino. In 1968, Fr. Sulpicio Enderez brought a replica image of the Santo Niño de Cebu in Iloilo as a gift to the parish of San Jose.

Dinagyang Festival consists of three major events -- Ati-Atihan Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing, and Miss Dinagyang. The main highlight of the festival is the Ati-Atihan Street Dancing, where performers paint their skin with soot and ashes and wear native costumes made of indigenous materials. They dance in the streets to the beat of the drum.

One of the colorful theme floats during the Panagbenga Festival Grand Float Parade
One of the colorful theme floats during the Panagbenga Festival Grand Float Parade | Source

4. Panagbenga Festival

For those who have not gotten enough of the street dancing from the local festivals held in the month of January, Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City will definitely satisfy their craving! The festival is celebrated for the entire month of February in Baguio City to signal the “season of blossoming” and symbolize the abundant flowers in the city.

Panagbenga Festival gives tourists and visitors a month-long opportunity to get bewitched with the magnificent blooms, enjoy the wonderful weather, and visit various exhibits of native products,

The main highlight of Panagbenga Festival is the amazing parade of floats, where each float is adorned with flowers. Of course, there is also street dancing! But this time, street dancers wear flower-inspired costumes.

The Moriones Festival history and religious event.
The Moriones Festival history and religious event. | Source

5. Moriones Festival

Moriones Festival is a week-long religious festival in honor of Saint Longinus, the Roman soldier who threw a spear on Jesus's side.

Moriones was derived from the word "Morion". which means "visor" or “mask”, a part of the medieval Roman armor which covers the face. In relation, Moriones refers to penitents who wear colorful Roman costumes, painted masks and helmets, and brightly-colored tunics.

Moriones Festival is held every Good Friday of the Lenten Season in Marinduque. The festival can be witnessed in the towns of Boac, Buenavista, Gasan, Mogpog, and Santa Cruz as they remember the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Moriones march around the town as they search for Longinus, a Roman centurion who is blind in one eye. When he threw a spear on the side of Jesus, blood fell on his blind eye and his eyesight was miraculously restored, which led to his conversion to Christianity.

Pahiyas Festival is a thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest.
Pahiyas Festival is a thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest. | Source

6. Pahiyas Festival

Every 15th day of May, residents of Lucban, Quezon give thanks to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, for a bountiful harvest. An image of San Isidro de Labrador is paraded around town to assure the farmers of another abundant harvest on the coming years.

Pahiyas Festival became popular because of the well-decorated houses along the streets of Lucban using handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, and kiping, those brightly-colored, leaf-shaped, thin rice wafers. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and other native delicacies that tourists and visitors can taste and enjoy are given away for free. One can grab everything he can, whether a handful or just a mouthful,

Roasted pigs in costumes during the Parada ng Lechon Festival
Roasted pigs in costumes during the Parada ng Lechon Festival | Source

7. Parada ng Lechon Festival

Parada ng Lechon, literally means “parade of roasted pigs”, is a different kind of festival that was introduced in Balayan, Batangas.

Held every 24th of June in celebration with the Feast of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Balayan, the luscious roasted pigs are dressed in various characters and arranged in a platform before they are paraded around town.

On the other hand, visitors should prepare themselves to get wet, which is a part of tradition to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in Jordan River by St. John the Baptist.

Kadayawan Festival is a celebration of bountiful harvest in the land and sea.
Kadayawan Festival is a celebration of bountiful harvest in the land and sea. | Source

8. Kadayawan Festival

Kadayawan Festival, otherwise known as Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival, is a celebration of life, wealthy culture, bountiful harvest, and comfortable living. Kadayawan was derived from word "madayaw", a friendly greeting which means either good, beautiful, or valuable.

According to history, the different ethnic tribes in Davao residing at the foot of Mount Apo would assemble and perform a ritual to the gods, especially to "Manama", the Supreme Being, for a bountiful harvest. Flowers, fruits, vegetables, rice, corn, and various farming tools were placed on mats as villagers give their respect and thanksgiving for the abundant harvest featuring singing, dancing and offerings to their divine protectors.

Times have changed but the thanksgiving tradition is still practiced. It has flourished and transformed into an annual festival of thanksgiving now known as "Kadayawan sa Dabaw" Festival. Celebrated every third week of August in Davao City, the Kadayawan Festival is highlighted with street dancing, floral float parade, dance festival, band competition, beauty pageant, and a lot more.

Never miss the street dancing competition during the Masskara Festival!
Never miss the street dancing competition during the Masskara Festival! | Source

9. Masskara Festival

Masskara was derived from two different words -- "mass", English word for people, and "kara". Spanish word which means face. The word masskara was formulated by Ely Santiago, an artist who showed in his artworks the various faces of Negrenses after going through different crises.

Held every third week of October in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Masskara Festival was organized to add festivity and color to the annual Bacolod City Charter Day celebration, which is held every 19th of October. It adopted the smiling mask, the symbol of the city where it based its name "The City of Smiles", to emphasize the happy spirit of Negrenses, despite the periodic economic recession in the sugar industry.

The 20-day celebration is a festivity of non-stop merry-making, street dancing, dining, and beer drinking. The main highlight of the Masskara Festival includes parade, mask-making contest, disco king and queen competition, and a lot more. During the parade, participants wear painted masks and colorful costumes as they dance and stride in the streets. Masskara Festival is always considered to be the most colorful and magnificent festival all over the world.

The adorable paper-mâché giants as they are paraded during the Higantes Festival
The adorable paper-mâché giants as they are paraded during the Higantes Festival | Source

10. Higantes Festival

Celebrated every 23rd of November in Angono, Rizal in honor of San Clemente, the town's patron saint, Higantes Festival is considered to be one of the most popular and most colorful festivals in the Philippines. The image of San Clemente is paraded around town, followed by the higantes wearing native costumes and wooden sandals.

Higantes is derived from the word "higante", which literally means "giant". The main highlight of the festival is the procession of colorful giant paper-mache effigies, each standing at 10-12 feet.

On the day of the feast, residents line the streets waiting for the procession of the image of San Clemente as it is immediately followed by a fire truck that sprinkles water to the people. The locals believe that they would receive blessings when they get wet during the procession.

Conclusion:

With hundreds of Philippine festivals regularly celebrated all over the country, the list goes on and on. Thus, it is highly recommended to schedule your vacation to these places in advance so that you will not miss the fun. After all, it is always "More Fun in the Philippines!".

Which colorful Philippine Festival have you experienced?

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© 2013 houseofjcjee

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    • profile image

      Mitch Ryan 3 years ago

      I'd love to experience the rest of the 9 colorful festivals.

    • SilayTambayan profile image

      Felicito Nato 2 years ago from Silay City

      Masskara festival is indeed world class. So glad last year i was part of it as i was a dancer of one of the contingents. This year is an exciting one. few months to go and Masskara festival will take center stage again.

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