The Philippines is known as a country that is rich in culture and heritage so it is no longer surprising that various colorful and unique festivals are being held in different parts of the country all year round.
The tradition of fiesta came from the many Spanish religious practices that is why most Filipino festivals are celebrated in honor of it’s patron saints or any major events in the life of Jesus Christ and His Mother Mary.
So when planning your next travel in the Philippines, book a flight or schedule a road trip to your province of choice during its festival so you will be able to be hit two birds in one stone. To give you a taste of the diverse culture ad traditions in the Philippines when celebrating fiestas, I suggest you start first with the following Philippine festivals that should top your list to see and experience.
1. Moriones Festival. Moriones Festival is being celebrated in the “Lent Capital of the Philippines“, Marinduque, every lent season. This whole week celebration starts on Holy Monday and ends on Easter Sunday.
Morions are men or women in costumes and masks replicating the biblical Roman soldiers during Christ’s time. They can be seen roaming around the streets of Marinduque for a week like normal people. Dressed in colorful tunics, scary faced masks and helmets, the mere sight of a morion is already enough to send kids scrambling back to their homes.
But don’t be deceived, morions may look snotty in the outside but they are not. In fact, these centurions are very much willing to join you for a picture taking. They also love engaging in antics or surprises to draw attention of tourists. So don’t be scared or surprised if you are walking in the town proper and see a morion coming near and trying to scare you.
Aside from them being a pleasant sight to see in the streets of Marinduque’s town capital Boac, the morions, as part of the Moriones Festival, also plays a crucial part in the Senakulo during Holy Week.
The Senakulo, a lenten play that depicts the life, suffering, and death of Christ, starts staging on the evening of Holy Wednesday and ends late evening of Black Saturday. Aside from Jesus Christ, one of the main characters in the senakulo is the Roman soldier Longinus, who also happens to be a centurion. When in Marinduque during Holy Week, be sure to specifically, look for Longinus. He’s easy to spot–he’s blind on one eye and is the most famous morion off all.
Aside from the afternoon lent processions, senakulo, Battle of the Morions and “pugutan” (reenactment of the beheading of Longinus), the main highlight of the Moriones Festival is actually the Via Crucis or the Way of the Cross which starts as early as 8:00AM of Good Friday. You have the option to go along with Christ, the other penitents, and morions or simply watch–though it is highly suggested that you go with the Way of the Cross since it is actually a one of a kind experience seeing every step of Christ’s suffering. Better be ready to endure the heat of the sun though and just consider it as another form of penitence. The Via Crucis ends with a “crucifixion” before lunch.
2. Sinulog Festival. The Sinulog Festival is probably one of the grandest, popular and colorful festival in the Philippines. Sinulog’s main festival is held every year on the third Sunday of January in the province of Cebu to honor the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, who used to be the patron saint of the whole province of Cebu.
Sinulog comes from the Cebuano adverb “sulog” which is “like water current movement,” as this is the best term to describe the forward-backward movement of the Sinulog dance.
The nine day celebration of Sinulog features participants in bright-colored and garbed costumes while dancing to the rhythm of drums and native gongs. Aside from the famous street dance, fluvial parades and SME trade fair which features Cebu export quality products are also some of the activities to watch out for.
Every year, Cebu is flocked with thousands of tourists from around the world just to witness this one of a kind celebration. In fact, getting a hotel to stay in Cebu City is actually a feat since most accommodations are fully booked already. Thus, if you are planning to street dance with the Cebuanos during the Sinulog Festival, be sure to book your flight and hotel a year before.
For more information on Sinulog Festival, please visit www.sinulog.ph