Saturday, March 24, 2007

Colourful festivals and processions

Influence of the Catholic religion

Typical for the Philippines are the many festivals and processions.

The explanation for the most of all these fiestas has to be found in the domination of one specific religion in the Philippines. The majority of the cultural celebrations is closely related to the Catholic religion. Nearly 90% of the Filipinos are Roman Catholic. If you like fiestas, it is really worth to visit the Philippines, especially in January, April, May and June. The most known and biggest fiestas take place in these months.

The most known fiestas

For the Filipinos themselves, every year the festivals and processions are days of great joy and happiness. Fiestas or any community celebration usually feature music, dancing, and food feasts. The most known are the procession of the Black Nazarene, the Ati-Atihan, the Sinulog, the Flores de Mayo and the Santa Cruzan. The colorful dress is most of the time not traditional. To see really traditional clothes, you have to visit the remote areas on Luzon and Mindanao for example.


A three-day fiesta in the third week of January on the island of Panay (Visayas)

The wildest among Philippine fiestas!

The festival is a Catholic festival in honor of Santo Niño. During the last day of this festival (fiesta), a parade is characteristic, with celebrants who paint their faces black, wear sometimes masks and rather exceptional costumes.

The origin of the Atis dances dates from the period before the Spaniards arrived on Panay. The typical dance belonged already to the local Atis people in that pre-colonial period.


In January, in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Niño.

In colorful costumes people of Cebu make their way through the streets while dancing the Sinulog, a traditional and ritual dance. The dance is accompanied by the sound of the drums: all the time moving two steps forward followed by one step backward.

The Sinulog was already danced by the natives long before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines. It was only in 1980, that the first Sinulog parade was organized. From then on it grew up to an enormous festival with a very large parade.

Flores de Mayo
Flowers of May

A month-long festival in May in honor of the Holy Mary

Flores de Mayo is a Catholic festival introduced by the Spaniards. The last day of the festival is highlighted by a pageant called Santa Cruzan.

The Santa Cruzan is a procession in honor of the finding of the Holy Cross in the year 326 A.D. by Reyna (Queen) Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. It was the wooden, Holy Cross, on which Jesus Christ was supposed to have been nailed. Long time ago Flores de Mayo and the Santa Cruzan were blended together in one festival

Black Nazarene

The largest procession in the country

through the streets of Quiapo in metro Manila

Every year on the 9th of January and on Good Friday, barefooted men carry a life-sized statue through the streets of Quiapo in Metro Manila.

The procession dates from the 17th century. Thousands of men parade through the streets with the black wooden statue of Jesus (of Nazarene). Everybody who is in the neighborhood of the statue tries to touch the statue. People believe that a miracle can happen after touching it.