Tag Archives: Philippine festivals

#345 Obando Fertility Rites

Both elderly and young women dance the fertility rites in Obando to help the childless fulfill their wish for an offspring

The Obando Fertility Rites are a Filipino dance ritual. Every year during the month of May and to the tune of musical instruments made out of bamboo materials, the men, women and children of Obando, Bulacan, Philippines wear traditional dance costumes to dance on the streets followed by the images of their patron saints San Pascual Baylon (St. Paschal), Santa Clara (St. Clare) and Nuestra Señora de Salambao (Our Lady of Salambao), while singing the song Santa Clara Pinung-Pino.

 The feast days or dance festivals are held for three consecutive days: May 17 for St. Paschal, May 18 for St. Claire and May 19 for the Our Lady of Salambaw. What makes the Obando fiesta unique among Philippine festivals is the dance performed in the streets by the childless women. To fulfil their wish for an offspring the devotees sing the popular Santa Clara Pinong-Pino tune. Chicken eggs are also given or donated to nunneries in exchange for prayers and in hopes of finally conceiving a first child (Source: Wikipedia).

Long live Philippine Festivals!


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#341 Pulilan Carabao Festival

A decorated carabao at the Pulilan Festival, Photo by Sidney Snoeck

Hundreds of work animals, mostly carabaos, are led on a parade in the streets of the town of Pulilan in Bulacan province every May 14 and 15 to honor its patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. The carabaos decorated with garland and shaved for the occasion, genuflect or kneel in front of the church. 

Visitors can witness the colorful Carabao Festival and other religious activities on May 14 when farmers all over the town pay tribute to San Isidro Labrador for a bountiful thanksgiving. The celebration includes hanging all sorts of fruits, candies, food crops and multi-colored kipings on bamboo poles. The affairs is highlighted by the kneeling of carabaos in front of the church and the symbolic floats. Every year, droves of San Isidro devotees flock to Pulilan to witness and join the festivities (Excerpted from the Province of Bulacan website).

Mabuhay ang Pulilan Carabao Festival!

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#333 Peñafrancia Festival

River procession during the Penafrancia Festival

Tens of thousands of pilgrims, devotees, tourists come to Naga City, Bicol province, Philippines every September for a nine-day festivities in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the Patroness of Bicol, endearingly addressed by Bicolanos as “Ina” (Filipino for ‘mother’).

The festivities begin with the famous Traslacion procession during which the images of the Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) are brought by barefooted male voyadores from the Basilica through the main streets of the city to the Cathedral. This procession, which usually lasts for four hours attracts thousands of devotees from all over the country.  A colorful fluvial procession is also one of the highlights, with thousands gathering by the river banks to witness the river crossing.

The devotion started 300 years ago, in 1710, when Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias had an image carved, a chapel built and processions held in honor of the miraculous image of the Virgin of Peñafrancia due to the many favors he received through the help of the Virgin. Since then the devotion has grew and has even reached abroad. Devotees’ accounts of healing and favors received through her intercession helped spread the devotion. 2010 marks the festival’s 300th year.

Long live Philippine Festivals!

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#326 Crispy Pata

In Catholic Philippines, Crispy Pata is a favourite pork delicacy. Pata, Spanish for leg, is the front or hind leg of the pig. In the Philippines, Crispy Pata also includes the leg and pig knuckles. A good Crispy Pata is deep fried pata with a crunchy rind and a soft, moist meat inside.

Filipino cooks recommend that the best pata for this dish is that of a young pig. The more mature the pig, the thicker and tougher the rind. The layer of fat will also be thicker (watch out for the calorie and cholesterol counts!). Frying is also not the only step in cooking this dish–the pata has to be boiled to tenderness prior to deep-frying.

Crispy pata is often served in festive occasions and family events. During family gatherings, this a classic dish to serve with rounds of beer, and other Filipino side dishes.

Long live Filipino cuisine!

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#303 Kadayawan Festival

The Kadayawan Festival is annually held in Davao City, Mindanao, southern  Philippines. Kadayawan is derived from the friendly greeting “Madayaw“, from the Dabawenyo word “dayaw”, meaning good, valuable, superior or beautiful. The festival is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.

Today, Kadayawan has been transformed into a festival of festivals, with a number of spin-off festivals in the region. The festival honors Davao’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage, its past personified by the ancestral “lumads”, its people as they celebrate on the streets, and its floral industry as its representatives parade in full regalia in thanksgiving for the blessings granted on the city. The celebration interfaces three aspects- tribal, industrial and the arts and entertainment. The festivities are highlighted with floral floats, street-dancing competitions and exhibits that showcases the island’s tourism products and services.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Mabuhay ang Kadayawan Festival!

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#291 Higantes Festival

Photo: WikiPilipinas

Higantes Festival, also known as the Feast of San Clemente, is celebrated every November 23 in the town of Angono, Rizal. This is a major festival in honor of San Clemente, the patron saint of fishermen.

His image is carried by male devotees during a procession accompanied by “pahadores” (devotees dressed in colorful local costumes or fishermen’s clothes, wearing wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles, fish nets, traps, etc.) and “higantes” (paper-mâché giants measuring 10-12 feet in height and 4-5 feet in diameter). This street event ends in a procession to Laguna de Bay until the image is brought back to its sanctuary. (Source: WikiPilipinas)

Long live Philippine festivals!

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#263 Black Nazarene Festival

Mass of Black Nazarene devotees near Quiapo Church, Manila

On January 9 a huge procession would take place every year in Manila during the Feast of the Black Nazarene. In terms of numbers it is by far the single biggest religious festival in the whole Philippines and the epicentre of the celebration is in Quiapo Church in the heart of downtown Manila.

This religious festival is both fun and unnerving to watch since a tremendously huge crowd of people, mostly men, usually show up on bare feet to show their devotion and penitence. For the whole day this mass of people would struggle to pull the carriage inch by inch in a slow procession of the Black Nazarene statue to Quiapo Church. Devotees believe that to touch the statue on this day would heal them of diseases.

Every year, when the Black Nazarene parade occurs, the center of Manila is virtually inaccessible to motor traffic. Hundreds of devotees faint or pass out due to the heat emanating from the pack of pressed bodies surrounding Quiapo Church and the adjacent square.

The Black Nazarene is a life-size statue of Jesus Christ brought by Augustinian Recollect friars to the Philippines on May 31, 1606 from Mexico. An Aztec carpenter reportedly carved the statue, which is now enshrined in the minor basilica of Quiapo. Devotees to the Black Nazarene usually flock to church on Fridays to pay their devotions.

Long live Philippine festivals!

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#236 Sinulog Festival

The Sinulog procession (Wikipedia photo)

The Sinulog is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Philippines. The festival honors the vision of the child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño (Holy Child),who used to be the patron Saint of the City of Cebu (since in the Catholic faith Jesus is not a saint, but God). It is a dance ritual that commemorates the Cebuano people’s Islamic and pagan origin, and their acceptance of Roman Catholicism.

The festival features a street parade with participants in bright colored costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums, trumpets and native gongs. Smaller versions of the festival are held in various parts of Cebu, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a “Sinulog sa Kabataan” performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the parade. Recently, the festival has been promoted as a tourist attraction, with a contest featuring contingents from various parts of the country. (From: Wikipedia)

Mabuhay ang Sinulog Festival!

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#228 Panagbenga Festival

Panagbenga is a month-long annual flower festival held in Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines.The term is of Malayo-Polynesian origin, meaning “season of blooming.”
Held during the month of February, it was created in 1995 as a tribute to the city’s flowers and as a way to rise up from the devastation of the 1990 Luzon earthquake.

The festival includes floats that are decorated with flowers. The festival also holds street dancing by dancers clad in flower-inspired costumes. Aside from economic boost from tourism, the festival also helped the younger generation of indigenous people to rediscover their culture’s old traditions. The indigenous people was first wary with government-led tourism because of the threat that they will interfere or change their communities’ rituals.

Long live Philippine festivals!

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#221 MassKara Festival

The MassKara Festival is a week-long festival held each year in Bacolod City, capital of Negros Occidental province, every third weekend of October nearest October 19, the city’s founding anniversary.

The festival was born out of crisis in 1980 when the price of sugar cane, a primary crop in the province, plunged due cheap sugar substitutes in the US. In the same year on April 22 tragedy struck when the inter-island ferry boat Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod, collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sank, killing an estimated 700 people.

In the midst of these tragic events, the city’s artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles. The word “MassKara” was coined by the late artist Ely Santiago from the word “mass” meaning “many or a multitude of the people”, and the Spanish word cara meaning “face”. A prominent feature of the festival is the mask worn by participants; these are always adorned with smiling faces. MassKara thus means a multitude of smiling face’.

The festival features a street dance competition where people from all walks of life troop to the streets to see masked dancers gyrating to the rhythm of Latin musical beats in a display of gaiety, coordination and stamina. (From: Wikipedia).

Mabuhay ang MassKara Festival!

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