Festivals and Celebrations in Philippines
Daily Life :: Festivals & Celebrations

There is always a fiesta (festival) going on somewhere in the Philippines as every city and barrio holds at least one each year. The fiesta is usually to honor the local Roman Catholic patron saint and pay homage to the barrio's namesake for good harvest and health. It is a mixture of both pagan and Catholic beliefs. These fiestas are marked by feasting and celebration of holy mass, music, dance and song.

Sinulog Festival is one of the grandest and most colourful festivals in the Philippines. The festival and its religious origin, the Feast of the Santo Nio is held at Cebu City every January. It is held in honour of Santo Nino (the child Jesus). Devotees come in droves from all over the Philippines and world with the hope that their prayers, petitions and wishes would be granted. There is a solemn religious procession on the eve of the feast.

Sinulog Festival 2007

The next day, people filled the streets to watch a parade of floats, puppeteers with their giant papier-mch puppets, and dancers in brightly-coloured costumes. The pervading music of the parade is the drum-beat of a dance-prayer ritual, characterized by two-steps-forward-and-one-step-backward shuffle and synchronized to the beat of drums and shouts.

The parade culminates at the Cebu City Sports Complex where there is a dance contest featuring contingents from various parts of the country.

Devotional crucifixions are common in the Philippines during the Holy Week. Some Filipinos reennact the crucifixion of Jesus ... self-flagellation (whipping oneself), being tied to a cross, even driving nails through their palms!

In San Pedro Cutud, a carpenter named Rolando del Campo vowed to be crucified every Good Friday for 15 years if God would carry his wife through a difficult childbirth.

National Geographic Video: Crucifixion reenacted

Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the Philippines. Filipinos take pride in having the longest Christmas celebration in the world ... as soon as the month ending with "ber" rolls around, preparations for Christmas begins. September signals the start of the Christmas season and you begin to hear Christmas carols everywhere and Christmas lanterns of all shapes and sizes light up the streets of Metro Manila. Filipinos buy star-shaped lanterns called "parol" (pronounced pah-role) to hang outside their homes. The "parol" represents the Star of Bethlehem that led the three Wise Men to the infant Jesus more than two thousand years ago.

Christmas begins formally on December 16 with attendance at the first of nine early morning masses called "Simbang Gabi" (night worship). Christmas parties are held everywhere - in schools and offices one after the other. Christmas plays or "cantatas" are often presented in churches. A week before Christmas, carolers -- mostly children -- go from house to house, singing Christmas songs.

Many of those living away from their families come back home before Christmas to spend the occasion with their loved ones. On Christmas Eve, families gather to eat a midnight feast called "Noche Buena", hand out gifts, and have fun all night long into the next day. On Christmas Day, families and children visit their uncles, aunts, godmothers and godfathers. Food and drinks are offered at each stop.