Having a rich cultural background with hundreds of people groups scattered across its 7107 islands, the Philippines offer a wide variety of festivals that attract both local and international tourists.
ATI-ATIHAN - January @ Kalibo, Aklan
Considered to be the wildest of Philippine festivals, celebrants paint their faces with soot and wear bright and outlandish costumes as they take to the streets dancing in revelry. It's part of a 2week town festival and is in honor of the Santo Nino or the Holy Infant Jesus. Costumes include elaborate pieces of headdress made of shells, feathers, bamboo, plant leaves, beads, trinkets, colored glass, metals, plastics, as well as locally grown abaca fibers, cogon, and sugar plant flowers.
PANAGBENGA - February @ Baguio City
A recently started festival that is now amongst the most popular in the Philippines, Panagbenga celebrates the arrival of spring in the country's summer capital. Panagbenga is a Kankana-ey term for "a season of blooming", and the festival's highlight is a parade showcasing elaborately decorated floral floats and street dancing. Also known as the Baguio Flower Festival, it is a celebration that pays homage to the abundant and beautiful flowers that the city is known for, and the re-establishment of the city after an early 1990 earthquake that resulted in hundreds of deaths and millions of destroyed properly.
MORIONES FESTIVAL - Holy Week @ Marinduque
A folk-religious festival that re-enacts the story of a Roman centurion named Longinus, who converted into Christianity after a blind eye got miraculously healed from liquid coming from the body of the crucified Christ. The celebration is characterized by participants in colorful Roman costumes, painted masks and helmets, and brightly colored tunics. The re-enactment's climax is when Longinus is caught by angry Roman centurions and is subsequently beheaded.
SANTACRUZAN - May @ the Philippine Islands
The Santacruzan is a procession that commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine. Started in the Tagalog region in the mid 19th century, it is observed in many cities, towns and small villages across the Philippines. The colorful parade feature grandly attired ladies and their escorts, and other participants portraying a list of 26 unique characters arranged in a particular order. At the end of the parade is Queen Helena carrying a small cross and escorted by her son Constantine. The characters walk under arches that are gaily decorated with flowers.
PAHIYAS - May @ Quezon Province
This festival is a traditional celebration done to honor the patron saint of farmers, in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. House facades are decorated with agricultural produce and houses are decked with kiping, a paper-thin colorful decoration made from rice dough and shaped into leaves. Home decorations such as lanterns, chandeliers and flower arrangements are also fashioned out of kiping. Each household is known to try and outdo each other in terms of creativity and volume in decorations.
HIGANTES FESTIVAL - November @ Angono, Rizal
Angono, Rizal's fiesta in honor of its patron saint is highlighted by a procession accompanied by "pahadores (devotees dressed in colorful local costumes, wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles) and higantes" (giant paper mache effigies). These "higantes/giants" are four - five feet in diameter and ten to twelve feet in height. The procession is done along the Laguna Bay and ends until the image of the patron saint is brought back to its sanctuary. A relatively new feature of the town fiesta, the higantes are larger than life caricatures of Spanish landlords that use to rule the town of Angono.
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