of Top 10 Fiestas that every Filipino should experience to get a deeper appreciation of our own culture and traditions.
It wasn’t an easy process since each festival has its own style and unique charm, but I wanted to come up with something to help kickstart your festival journey
this 2014. So here’s my definitive guide to the 10 Most Awesome Fiestas of the Philippines (based on our own first-hand festival experiences):
1. DINAGYANG, ILOILO
What is it? Dinagyang means “Merry Making” and its a celebration held in honor of the Santo Niño Type of Festival: Religious, Cultural, and a Spectator-Type Festival When is it Held: 4th Sunday of January (one week after Sinulog and Ati-Atihan)
Ati-Atihan Dance Competition on Sunday (all day starting 9am), and Kasadyahan Street Dancing on Saturday (all day)
Iloilo’s Dinagyang: Hala Bira! Viva Señor Santo Niño!
A lot of festival enthusiasts believe that Dinagyang is one of the BEST Festivals in the Philippines.
Although the celebration still has that quaint, provincial city-feel, the Ati-Atihan dance productions are among the best I’ve seen in street dance festivals in the Philippines. They are the Grand Champions in the Aliwan Festival (Manila-based competition for all the street dance festivals).
Dinagyang is the best time to go to Iloilo!
Festival Power Travel Tips:
Make sure you have confirmed reservations preferably outside the main city for less noise.
Secure your tickets to watch the performances from the grand stand.
The entire city is closed to vehicular traffic so make sure to walk around and explore the city.
2. SINULOG FESTIVAL, CEBU
What is it? SINULOG is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Niño. The name pertains to the strong current movement of the Cebu River which is re-enacted in the dance.
Type of Festival: Religious, Cultural, Dance Ritual, and a Spectator-Type Festival
When is it Held: 3rd Sunday of January (Feast Day of Santo Niño)
Santo Niño procession on Sunday (all day after the first Sunday Mass)
Sinulog Fluvial Parade on Saturday (Early Morning)
Sinulog Fluvial Breakfast!
Sinulog in Cebu is the biggest festival in the Philippines, celebrating the feast of the Child Jesus, Santo Niño de Cebú, with a dance ritual to the beat of the drums. Held every third Sunday of January, it is the largest and most attended fiesta in the country with an all-day-long parade and party.
You can read about my 2006 Sinulog experience here:
[Sinulog #1] Sinulog — The Best Fiesta in the Philippines!
[Sinulog #2] Essential Guide to the Sinulog Fiesta
[Sinulog #3] The Grand Parade
[Sinulog #4] Cebu de Sto. Nino Devotion
[Sinulog #5] Sinulog’s Beauty and the Beasts (postcards)
[Sinulog #6] Sto. Nino Collections (part 1)
[Sinulog #7] Sto. Nino Collections (part 2)
One day before the Santo Niño procession, the image of the Child Jesus visits his Mother in Lapu Lapu City via the sea. Early in the morning of Saturday, the Santo Niño returns to Cebu City, reenacting the coming of the Spaniards through a Fluvial Parade on Cebu’s Pahina River.
This is one of my best Sinulog experiences ever, not only because of the parade, but also because of the great fluvial breakfast I got to taste there!
Festival Power Travel Tips:
Choose the Hotel based on who has a Fluvial Tour package that you can join.
It has the longest parade ever, so best to pick your vantage point and enjoy the entire day with your family or barkada. Cebuanos drink the entire day during the Sinulog celebration.
Get a Media or Photographer’s pass to cover the parade on the streets itself. Make sure to start shooting when they are preparing and join them throughout the parade.