Did you know that the Philippines is labelled as “The Fiesta Islands”? With more than seven thousand islands, the country’s 80 provinces celebrate a long list of festivals and fiestas, and all are in deference of various patron saints of Hispanic influences. All year long, there’s an abundance of fiestas happening in some of the Philippines’ towns and municipalities. These celebrations are an amalgam of colors, food, customs showcasing the tremendous vivacity of the Filipino people. Indeed, the tag “The Fiesta Islands” can’t be more true for this archipelago.
The merry month of May is often attributed as the fiesta month in the country. Aside from the widely celebrated Santacruzan which happens nationwide, here’s Locale City Guide’s top choices of fiestas during the month of flowers.
When: May 11-22
Started in 1993, the Manggahan Festival in Guimaras is all about its foremost produce, the sweet and luscious mango renowned everywhere.
Manggahan Festival is an annual celebration of the province’s rich culture and a thanksgiving feast for the rich land that produces the sweetest mangoes in the world. Fun-filled events make up the 2-week festival such as the dance parade, concerts, sporting events and the filling Mango-Eat-All-You-Can contest where participants happily devour mangoes for 30 minutes.
Photo credits: @deanneagad via IG
Pulilan Carabao Festival
When: May 14-15
Place: Pulilan, Bulacan
The town of Pulilan, Bulacan is known for a unique festival where carabaos or water buffalos play a cardinal role during the festivity. Called Pulilan Carabao Festival, it is a thanksgiving homage to San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.
Held every May 14 and 15, carabaos are fully cleaned, with some even dressed beautifully, and together with their owners, parade around town amidst cheers of festival goers and visitors. Carabaos from other nearby towns and provinces also join the celebration. As they pass by the church, they take turns kneeling in front of the crowd as a way of giving thanks to their patron saint. Other highlights of the festival are the carabao race and street dancing.
Photo credits: @quinnarki via IG
When: May 15
Place: Lucban, Quezon
Considered as the most colorful harvest festivity in the Philippines, Pahiyas Festival is an annual celebration in Lucban in honor of San Isidro Labrador as well. One of the country’s popular festivals dating back to the 16th century, Pahiyas is a thanksgiving for the earth’s bounty. The townspeople of Lucban decorate their houses with various fruits and vegetables and heaps of coloful kiping (wafer made from rice) dyed in different colors and shaped like big leaves. Pahiyas Festival is truly a visual delight never to be missed!
Photo credits: @wilnid via IG
Obando Fertility Rites Festival
When: May 17-19
Place: Obando, Bulacan
Obando Fertility Rites is a festival pursued by childless couples hoping to be blessed with children. An old festival, the festivity was even mentioned by Dr. Jose Rizal in his epic 1887 novel, Noli Me Tangere.
The 3-day celebration is held in San Pascual Baylon Church where people from different provinces, as well as tourists from other countries, come together to take part in the festival. A different saint is celebrated on each day: May 17 is for San Pascual Baylon; May 18 is dedicated to Santa Clara and the last day, May 19, is for the Our Lady of Salambao. Pilgrims from different places invoke the help of the three saints for a spouse, a child, good weather or good fortune.
Photo credits: @haze_ching via IG
These are just some of the merriest revelries in the month of May in our beloved Fiesta Islands. Imagine the assemblage of other festivities that you can find in immediate and faraway provinces and towns that all spells CELEBRATION.
Come visit the Philippines and take part in these delightful festive celebrations!
Cover photo credits: @aldrindeguzman1010 via IG