THE just-concluded Feast of the Black Nazarene is one of the most anticipated event among the Christians. Bare-footed Christian devotees, with white towels slung over their necks, pull the carriage carrying the centuries-old image of the Black Nazarene through the winding streets of Quiapo in an afternoon procession. Tens of thousands of devotees elbow and push their way toward the statue on the belief that whoever touches it will have their sins forgiven.
Here are the selected festivals in the Philippines throughout the year.
1. New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) – the second most-anticipated national holiday after Christmas Day.
2. Feast of Black Nazarene (Jan. 9)
3. Sto. Nino de Cebu (Jan. 10) – This weeklong festival which is the grandest of Cebu’s fiestas, is celebrated in honor of Sto. Nino de Cebu. The event is marked with colourful “sinulog’ dances, solemn processions, cultural night presentations, fireworks and carnivals.
4. Ati-atihan (Kalibo, Aklan, third week of January) — A mardi grass style revelry, it is one of the country’s biggest and most frenzied festivals.
5. Chinese New Year (February, date not fixed), China town – Ethnic Chinese in the Philippines celebrate with their Filipino neighbours and friends alike the Lunar New Year. Festivities include dragon dance weaving through the streets of Binondo in Manila, open air Chinese operas and plays, firecrackers and eating delicacies.
6. Moriones festival (Holy Week, March or April) – People of Marinduque re-enact Biblical legend of Longinus, the one-eyed centurion who was cured of blindness by a drop of blood from the crucified Christ.
7. Holy Week (March or April) –- The whole country participate in this Christian tradition for seven days. Devout Christians fast or refrain from merry-making the whole week and devote the time for reflections. There are also festivities like processions, ‘salubong,’ passion plays, ‘pabasa,’ and many more.
8. Summer Baguio Festival (Baguio City, March or April) – Held for a week with musical concerts, sports events, parades, ethnic displays and flower parade.
9. Sinulog Festival (March 25, in Ilog, Negros Occidental) – Marked by rendition of exotic tribal dance.
10. Feast of Virgen De Turumba (April, Pakil, Laguna) – Devotees jump, fall, leap or dance with joy as they follow the image of Our Lady of Sorrows in procession.
11. Santacruzan (May 1-30) – The Maytime festival is characterized by daily floral offerings to honor the Blessed Virgin.
12. Carabao festival (May 14-15, Pulilan, Bulacan; Nueva Ecija; and Angono, Rizal) – Hundreds of farmers adorn their carabaos with flowers andparade about the church plaza to pay their respects to the patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, before commencing a day of games, contests and funs.
13. Pahiyas Festival (May 15, Lucban and Sariaya in Quezon province) – Another colourful festival honouring San Isidro Labrador. Houses along the streets where the procession will pass by adorn their windows and doorways with fruits and kiping, a rice-base delicacy painstakingly and skilfully shaped into colourful flowers and leaves.
14. Fertility rites (May 17-19, Ubando, Bulacan) – This is a triple religious fete to honor San Pascual Baylon, Santa Clara and the Virgen De Salambao. Childless couples dance in the streets until the procession reaches the church.
15. Flores de Mayo (Last Sunday of May) – A procession that is more like a pageant. The prettiest young women in the town or barrio participate here.
16. Lechon Parade (June 24, Balayan, Batangas) – An array of about 50 golden brown, crispy lechons are parades around the town in honor of St. John de Baptist.
17. Penafrancia festival (3rd week of Sept., Naga City, Camarines Sur) – From her shrine, the statue of Or Lady of Penafrancia is carried on the shoulders of male devotees to the cathedral. After a nine-day novena, it is brought back to the shrine via the Naga River.
18. Davao Tribal Festival (First week of October) – Highlanders who have their roots in the mountains of Davao province, share their culture to the lowlanders by performing their tribal dances, songs and traditional rituals in Davao City.
19. Christmas Day (Dec. 25) – The most joyous celebration in every Filipino home. The season starts in November immediately after All Saints Day. Colourful blinking lights, lanterns, and other decors adorn homes, buildings, and streets. Christmas carols are heard everywhere. It is time for gift-giving, merry-making and family reunions. Children go their relatives and godparents to ask for their blessings and receive gifts.