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17 Festivals In The Philippines You Should Attend Before You Die

All together now: HALA BIRA!

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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