The past year has been a great one for Philippine tourism, with many of the country’s destinations topping international travelers’ lists.
More than the pristine white beaches and the awe-inspiring landscapes, though, what makes it truly “more fun in the Philippines” is its people. This is no more evident than in the colorful festivals wherein one can witness a sea of people gamely donning costumes, dancing to infectious beats, and regaling both local and foreign tourists alike.
Ati-Atihan in Aklan
The Ati-Atihan in Kalibo “ushers” the start of the festivities in the Philippines each year as it is celebrated on the third week of January. Revelers painting their face and body in soot and wearing colorful costumes shouting “Hala Bira!” have become familiar images by now. One needs to be in the thick of the parade, though, dancing along with the participants to feel the spirit of what some say is the “Mother of Philippine Fiestas.” (Photo source)
Sinulog in Cebu
Likewise colorful and highly creative are the costumes donned by the revelers in the Sinulog festival of Cebu. Just like the Ati-Atihan, this fiesta is held in honor of the feast of the Holy Infant Jesus. The festival actually lasts for nine days and includes, among others, a fluvial parade with a statue of the Santo Niño, a solemn procession, and the grand parade. (Photo source)
Dinagyang in Iloilo
The Dinagyang festival is held on the fourth Sunday of January and has been named by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines as the Queen Festival of the Philippines in 2011. According to the event’s official homepage, a Pamukaw (drum call) was already held last December 14, 2012 to officially usher in the start of the festivities. (Photo source)
Panagbenga in Baguio
The Panagbenga is our answer to Pasadena’s Rose Parade with its myriad floats decorated in flowers and dancers in flower-inspired costumes. According to panagbenga.org, the “Panagbenga: A Kankana-ey (dialect widely used by Cordillerans in the Northern Philippine boondocks, specifically people from the Mountain Province and people from the Northern part of the Benguet Province) term meaning ‘a season for blossoming; a time for blooming.’” (Photo by scion_cho/ Source)
Pahiyas in Quezon
The Pahiyas in Lucban is held in every May honor of San Isidro Labrador. It is a thanksgiving feast that sees houses bedecked in the most colorful decorations using agricultural products such as flowers and fruits and, most popularly, the kiping or rice wafer and leaves. (Photo source)
Kadayawan in Davao
Just like the Pahiyas, the Kadayawan is a thanksgiving feast. It traces its origins to the harvest rituals of the various ethnic tribes residing at the foot of Mount Apo and is celebrated every August. According tokadayawan.com, the term “Kadayawan” comes from “madayaw”, “a warm and friendly greeting used to explain a thing that is valuable, superior, beautiful, good, or profitable.” (Photo source)
MassKara in Bacolod
The MassKara festival emerged out of the tragic events that besieged Bacolod in the 1980s. To bring back the “smile” in the “City of Smiles”, local government officials and concerned citizens came together to come up with a festival that highlighted the province’s rich cultural heritage. The word “MassKara” is a combination of the word “mass” (many) and “kara” (face).
(Story courtesy of Ruth Sandico of the Philippine Star)