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    17 Festivals In The Philippines You Should Attend Before You Die

    All together now: HALA BIRA!

    1. Carabao Festival

    Held every: May 14–15

    Where: Pulilan, Bulacan

    Hundreds of farm animals, mainly carabaos, join a parade in honor of Pulilan's patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. Carabaos, or water buffalo, are decorated with colorful garlands and are asked to kneel in front of the church. They tend to cooperate!

    2. Pahiyas Festival

    Flickr: penmanila / Creative Commons
    Flickr: twinkletuason / Creative Commons

    Held every: May 15

    Where: Lucban, Quezon

    Pahiyas is also celebrated in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. The feast serves as a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, hence, leaf-shaped and multicolored rice paste called Kiping are used to decorate houses along with various fruits and flowers.

    3. Panagbenga Festival

    Flickr: maxiadrian / Creative Commons
    Flickr: susandesignstudio / Creative Commons

    Held every: First week of February

    Where: Baguio

    Baguio is one of the very few cities in the Philippines with cold enough weather to cultivate flowers of all shapes and sizes, hence a month long celebration with street dancing and a parade of flower-coated floats. Panagbenga gives young residents and tourists a chance to glimpse their culture's traditions.

    4. Lechon Festival

    Edwin Antonio /

    Held every: June 24

    Where: Balayan, Batangas

    Lechon (roasted pig!) Festival is another celebration honoring Saint John the Baptist. Hundreds of lechons are decorated with various costumes and are paraded along the streets of the town.

    5. Feast of Saint John the Baptist

    Held every: June 24

    Where: San Juan, Manila

    The residents of San Juan celebrate the feast of their patron saint by "baptizing" each other with ylang-ylang-scented water. This leads to a town-wide water fight and often ends with most, if not all, of the residents drenched in water. It's an ice bucket challenge, but bigger.

    6. Ati-atihan Festival

    Held every: January 14–20

    Where: Kalibo, Aklan

    This festival in done annually in honor of the Santo Niño, the infant Jesus. "Ati-atihan" translates to "to be like Itas", the first settlers of the Philippine islands and the festival consists of tribal dance, music, costumes, and weapons.

    7. Sinulog Festival

    Flickr: davanitz / Creative Commons
    Flickr: davanitz / Creative Commons

    Held every: Third Sunday of January

    Where: Cebu City

    Another celebration in honor of Santo Niño, Sinulog commemorates the Filipino's acceptance of Christianity. Aside from the grand street parade, the festival also consists of several processions and various dance competitions.

    8. Dinagyang Festival

    Flickr: maxiadrian / Creative Commons
    Flickr: maxiadrian / Creative Commons

    Held every: Fourth Sunday of January

    Where: Ilo-ilo City

    Inspired by the Ati-atihan festival, Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival divided into three events: the Ati-ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing, and Miss Dinagyang. For three consecutive years since 2006, Dinagyang was voted as the best tourism event in the Philippines.

    9. Moriones Festival

    Flickr: ederic / Creative Commons
    Flickr: ederic / Creative Commons

    Held every: Holy Week

    Where: Marinduque

    "Moriones" refers to the men and women who dress in costumes to depict Roman soldiers during the Passion of the Christ. The feast includes a re-enactment of the story of Saint Longinus, a Roman Soldier whose blind eye was healed when the blood of Jesus dropped on it.

    10. Obando Fertility Rites

    Held every: May 17–19

    Where: Obando, Bulacan

    The rites and dancing are popular with pilgrims who wish for a child, a spouse, or good fortune. The dance serves as a form of prayer asking a triad of patron saints—Saint Paschal Baylon, Saint Clare, and Our Lady of Salambao—for the spirit of life to enter the wombs of women.

    11. Flores de Mayo

    Flickr: jamesalba / Creative Commons
    Flickr: weirdobelle / Creative Commons

    Held every: Whole month of May

    Where: Nationwide!

    Flores de Mayo, or Flowers of May, is a celebration in honor of the Virgin Mary. The main event is called Santacruzan, a pageant-cum-parade depicting Queen Helena's discovery of the Holy Cross.

    12. Feast of the Black Nazarene

    Flickr: incrediblethots / Creative Commons
    Flickr: incrediblethots / Creative Commons

    Held every: January 9

    Where: Manila, Philippines

    Millions of devotees follow the procession of the Black Nazarene for up to 18 or 20 hours. Many followers try to wipe their handkerchiefs on the surface of the Nazarene, believing it can ease pain and suffering.

    13. Higantes Festival

    Flickr: aspirecaptured / Creative Commons
    Flickr: d2digital / Creative Commons

    Held every: November 23

    Where: Angono, Rizal

    The residents of Angono create paper mache "giants" measuring four to five feet wide and ten to twelve feet tall and parade them around as a celebration to honor their patron saint, San Clemente. The event finishes with a procession at Laguna de Bay.

    14. Pintados Festival

    Held every: June 29

    Where: Tacloban

    Pintados is a cultural-religious feast honoring the body-painting traditions of the ancient tattooed warriors in the country. Residents paint their bodies depicting the said tradition as a preparation for the street dancing and parade.

    15. Sandugo Festival

    Held every: Third or fourth Sunday of July

    Where: Tagbilaran City, Bohol

    This historical celebration commemorates the Treaty of Friendship between Datu Sikatuna and Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legaspi through blood compact or "sandugo." The feast lasts for a month and consists of a holy mass, a motorcade, and a beauty pageant. among other festivities.

    16. Kadayawan Festival

    Flickr: biagkensiak / Creative Commons
    Flickr: jeshflores / Creative Commons

    Held every: Third week of August

    Where: Davao City

    The city of Davao annually celebrates all the good things in life—gifts of nature, wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest, and the serenity of living—through this festival. "Kadayawan" is derived from the Dabawenyo word "madayaw" which means good, valuable, or beautiful.

    17. Masskara Festival

    Flickr: 21905294@N03 / Creative Commons
    Flickr: 21905294@N03 / Creative Commons

    Held every: Third week of October

    Where: Bacolod City

    Also known as the "Festival of Smiles", this festival was initiated in 1980 by artists and the local government when city morale was at an all-time low: there was a decrease in the demand for sugar (the city's primary product) and a nautical tragedy involving the inter-island vessel MV San Juan. The festival, therefore, served as a constant reminder that no matter how rough times can get, Bacolod will survive with a smile.

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