Popular Festivals in the Philippines

The Festival of Ati-atihan: The Festival of Ati-atihan is celebrated in January on the third Sunday of the month and is the wildest fiesta in the Philippines. The participants color their faces in black and dress in colorful clothes, dancing traditionally during this two weeks long festival. The Festival of Ati-atihan is celebrated in honor of Santa Nino.

The history of this carnival is related to the Ati people who sold some land to the Malays escaping from Borneo. The Malays were grateful to the  Ati and rejoice as a reminder of their gratitude by painting their faces like them. The Ati are the original natives of Panay Island. Originally Ati-atihan was a pagan gala but later on Christian connotations were added by missionaries. The procession is vibrant and colorful resembling Brazil’s Mardi Gras festival.

Lanzones Festival in Mambadjao Camiguin

Lanzones is a nourishing fruit grown in huge quantities in Camiguin near the coast of Mindanao and is a source of the main livelihood. Camiguin is renowned for its sweetest lanzones and during its harvest in October, Mambajao, a town in Camiguin, commemorates the lanzones by the yearly Lanzones Festival. The weekend festival features street dancing, a beauty procession and parade.

Lanzones are displayed decoratively along the streets, houses and even the dancers to celebrate the legendary maiden who turned the formerly sour faced lanzones into sweet and succulent fruits. It is also a festivity to celebrate the luscious fruit which turned Camiguin into a tourist paradise. The festivities include cultural shows, street parties, and the ceremony of crowning the Mutya sa Buahanan, ethnic costumes, street dancing competitions and displays of local handicrafts.

The Panagbenga Festival

The Panagbenga Festival, also famous as Baguio Flower Festival, is one of the most prominent festivities in Philippines held in Baguio in February and celebrations include lectures, exhibits, flower shows, flower contests, float parades and garden tours. This is a major celebration of flowers highlighting Baguio as The City of Flowers. The festivities commenced in 1995 reflecting the traditional and historical circumstances of Cordilleras and Baguio. The Panagbenga Festival is a celebration of Baguio’s miraculous survival and comeback from the lethal seismic activity in 1990.

The famous fiesta begins with a spray of rose petals as the bands initiate the parading tunes. Next come the merry dancers dressed in colorful and brightly ornamented costumes and the floats display decorations crafted mainly from fresh and multi-colored flowers of all kinds.

Feast of Black Nazarene

The Feast of Black Nazarene is celebrated every year on the 9th of January in Quiapo Church, Manila. The festival is named after a full-size statue of the Holy Christ which is which is carried through the town by barefooted men while large crowds of believers stroke it with veneration. Thousands of worshippers from all walks of life gather every year in Quiapo to participate in the Feast of Black Nazarene. The statue of the Black Nazarene is placed in a carriage gilded with gold and the procession is followed by barefooted devotees while the viewers are eager to touch the statue or simply rejoice by throwing their handkerchiefs and towels high above their heads.

Filipino Catholics had been devoted to this fiesta for a long time and strongly convinced that this carnival is the source of good health, long life, harmony and peace for the people. The statue sculpted from dark colored wood arrived in Quiapo from Mexico in a ship in 1606 and is housed in St. John the Baptist Church.

The Festival of Dinagyang

The Festival of Dinagyong is a popular gala in the Phlippines which is celebrated by the Iloila people on the last Sunday of January. The festival is vibrant with people singing aloud “Hala Bira” while the streets are crowded by dancers dancing and singing to the rhythm of music. This festivity began about 40 years ago when Rev. Ambrosio Galindez introduced the adulation of Santa Nino in Nov’ 1967.

The festivity started when the image was found decorated on a bank of the Iloila River in San Pedro. The visualization of the image initiated the Festival of Dinagyang with great reverence and merriment for the Child Jesus by Ilonggo worshippers. The festivity originates from Ati-atihan roots with dancers painting their bodies with ashes and soot and celebrating this time with offerings and thanksgiving.