The fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture. Through good times and bad times, the fiesta must go on.
Each city and barrio has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, so that
there is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the country. But the biggest and most elaborate festival of
all is Christmas, a season celebrated with all the pomp and pageantry the fun-loving Filipino can manage.
The Ati-Atihan Festival commemorates the 13th century land deal between 10 migrating Bornean
chieftains and the aboriginal Ati King Marikudo. It also honors the town patron, the infant Sto. Niño.
The ceaseless, rhythmic pounding of drums get to you, and before you know it you are on the street,
shuffling your feet, shaking your head, waving your hands - and joining thousands of soot-blacked, gaily-
costumed revelers in an ancient ritual of mindless merriment. A familiar battle cry reaches your ears, and
amidst all this confusion you remember where you are: Kalibo, Aklan. "Viva, Sto. Niño!"
The Ati-Atihan celebration is echoed in many parts of the country.
Cebu City's fiesta of fiestas. Characterized by its peculiar two-steps-forward-and-one-step-backward
shuffle, thus simulating the Holy Child of the shores, the Sinulog is a century-old tradition observed in the
part of Visayas region. The prayer-dance is synchronized to the beat of drums and shouts of "Pit Señor!
Viva Sto. Niño!" Feel free to dance with the best of them, grooving all the way to the grand final
presentation at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Merry mayhem breaks loose in Iloilo City during this weekend, when Ilonggos leave everything behind to
join in the fiesta of the year. All inhibitions are dropped: boring everyday clothes are exchanged for "Ati"
warrior costumes and black body paint. Shields and "weapons" are held amidst the pounding rhythm of
drums, the costumed Ilonggos put their best feet forward in celebration of…..Dinagyang!
Baguio Flower Festival
23 February - 3 March
It's flower season in the city of Pines - perfect timing for an all-out fiesta in the streets. The Baguio folk
take a break on these days to revel in the cool climate and the unique culture of the city. Multi-hued
costumes are worn, mimicking the various blooms of the highland region (or any of its 11 ethnic tribes).
These are flowerbeds - disguised, of course, as the Panagbenga parade floats.
28 February - 1 March
Expect the Bukidnon to go tribal from the first to the second week of March, when the streets of
Malaybalay take on that familiar fiesta theme. Banners, banderitas, and beer will be norm, as well as the
sweet, haunting sound of native music. An early morning pamuhat ritual kicks off the festivities, to be
followed by an ethnic food fest, trade fairs, and a lot of native dancing.
The island of Marinduque prides itself in being the "Lenten Capital of the Philippines", and it is easy to
understand why. Come the seven days of Holy Week, the people of the island take part in the age-old ritual
of the "Moriones". Colorful warrior costumes are worn, topped with finely carved masks depicting the
fierce Roman soldiers of Christ's time. All these are done to depict the story of the conversion of
Longuinus, the centurion who pierced Jesus' side - and his subsequent beheading.
CUTUD LENTEN RITES
San Fernando, Pampanga
Prayer of a different meaning during the Lenten season, when villagers of San Pedro, Cutud, engage in the
act of self-flagellation. This ancient ritual is performed in the morning of Good Friday during the Holy
Week. Backs, arms, and legs are cut and then struck with burillo whips. The climax to this occasion
happens at midday, when penitents are literally nailed to their waiting crosses.
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