Economic development and rapid urbanisation has not stopped the “Pinoy” (Informal demonym for the Philippino population) attitude towards fun. The festivals (Locals call them “fiestas” due to Spanish influence) keep getting bigger, better, more colourful, and of course, louder every year.
Cities take a lot of time, and spare no expense, in preparing for these fiestas, but the inflow of tourists – local and international – means that the cities themselves stand to gain from holding such events.
Fiestas are not just random events to celebrate nothing. Most fiestas in this multi-cultural country have deep tie-ins with religion, and are based on community. Secular festivals, such as the MassKara festival – originally held to spread happiness at a time of tragedy – have their place in the calendar as well, and attract crowds from all races, religions, ethnic groups, and even international visitors annually.
The upcoming months this year – October to December – are event-filled and you can rest assured that the Philippino people will put in their best efforts, as always, to make every one of them a rousing success.
In the Phillipines, the month of October is filled with fiestas full of colour and excitement. Some of the most popular fiestas include:
- The MassKara Festival in Bacolod City
This Festival has garnered quite a lot of attention over the past 30+ years, and has been compared to South American carnivals in their level of colour and style. Originally intended as a way of dealing with a time of great tragedy and economic downturn which affected the area (a shipping accident that cost 700 lives and the fall of the sugar industry), MassKara has grown into somewhat of a global spectacle. Known as the “Festival of Smiles”, in the “City of Smiles”, MassKara is indeed the happiest celebration of them all.
The main parades feature dancers wearing colourfully-decorated masks and costumes, where each group of participants add another dimension to the festivities.
With street dance competitions for School children as well as professionals, beauty pageants, carnivals, drum and bugle core competitions, food festivals, musical concerts, sports events, agricultural fairs, garden shows, and many other specialised events, MassKara is an extravaganza like no other in the Philippines. Every year is different, and every festival is special. If you are thinking of a trip to the Philippine Islands this October, make a stop at the MassKara festival. It’s bound to be an memorable experience. Even if you have already seen the MassKara festival first-hand before, why not go again? We promise it won’t disappoint you.
- Enchanting Balete Festival in Balete, Kalibo, Aklan
Balete Town is a hub of the creative arts in the Aklan Province, and the Enchanting Balete festival showcases some of the best of arts and culture that the area has to offer. From beauty pageants to fun runs, drumming events to community outreach programmes, the Enchanting Balete festival is an eclectic mix of events and activities for everyone.
Every year, the activities are different, giving visitors something new to look forward to, and every year, the organisers and participants try to improve on the previous year. Make your reservations, book your flights and make plans for your trip to Balete today!
- Inug-og Festival in Orquieta City, Misamis Occidental
Oroquieta City, and its surrounding region has a very culturally diverse population, belonging to a range of religions, ethnicities, and castes. The city celebrates this by holding a month-long festival, the Inug-og Festival, with the participation of quite a large number of cultural dancers, musicians, and other artists.
Colourful parades through the city’s main streets are the most prominent events. The festival holds special tribute to the city’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.
More than anything else, though, this festival is a showcase of the Philippines’ past inhabitants, especially the local tribes who have lived in the area since prehistoric times.
The further toward the end of the year you go in the Philippines, the bigger the festivals become, as November includes some of the greatest, including:
- Crown Festival in Muzon, Taytay, Rizal
The Crown Festival is a colourful festival held under the patronage of the Christ The King Parish “Church in the Sky” – a picturesque Roman Catholic Church set atop a high hill in the town of Muzon. The festival itself gathers people from all around the area, in a sea of colour and activity. Special cultural events are held during the festival, including theatrical performances, beauty pageants, and dance competitions, among others. The festival’s climax is usually on the fourth Sunday of November each year, so make your plans early!
- Higantes Festival, Angono, Rizal
The Higantes Festival (22nd and 23rd of November each year) is one of the most unusual of the lesser-known festivals in the world. Started by the locals as a passive way of ridiculing the western colonialists, it has become, like the “Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona, Spain, a one-of-a-kind spectacle.
The main event of the Higantes (meaning “Giants”) festival is the Racing Giants – an event where people parading along the street with giant paper-mache heads resembling the European masters, who only allowed the city to have one festival per year.
The Festival also includes a special mass, art exhibitions, song contests, and most importantly, the local custom of spraying water on passers-by. If you want a fun-filled time, and want to forget about being a responsible adult for a couple of days, and enjoy the festivities, Look no further than the Higantes Festival in Angoro!
As the year comes to an end, the festivals reach epic proportions. The fiestas in December include:
In most of the West, Christmas is celebrated for a few days before the day itself, but the Philippino population take it to a whole new level. The shops start playing Christmas carols on the 1st of September! The season lasts till the first Monday of January, and the Pinoy population celebrates the holiest of days with special masses, christmas carols, nativity plays, and Christian celebrations of all kinds. The whole country participates in the activities. Although it is still September, and autumn is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, Philippinos are already celebrating Christmas, so whether you visit today, or in the next three months, you will be in time to celebrate Christmas in the Philippines!
- Bayluhay Festival in San Joaquin, Iloilo
This event commemorates the historic landing of the Ten Bornean Datus and the Barter of Panay, both of which happened in the shores of San Joaquin. This festival is a celebration of the bountiful blessings that the population have been given, and an expression of gratitude for the honour of being the descendants of the noble rulers of the land.
The Festival features ancient rituals handed to the population by their Malay ancestry, and are still being practised today. It showcases customs and traditions which endured in San Joaquin over centuries of colonial rule and modernisation.
- Tag-anito Festival in Tudela, Cebu
The Tag-anito festival is a colourful event which celebrates the history of the picturesque coastal town of Tudela, the lesser part of the small Poro island it shares with the city of Poro. The festival also honours the patron saint of the town – Immaculate Conception, and is among the more rustic of festivals. Prepare well, and prepare early for this festival, as you travel by air, land, and sea to see some spectacular events.
Whether you are visiting the Philippines for the first time, or whether you are a frequent traveller there, we guarantee a trip to the nation of over 7,000 islands will leave you with a smile on your face and a longing for more.