The love for life and God are reflected in the Filipinos’ celebration of their patrons through rituals and festivities blended with music, dances, plays, processions, beauty contests and other events. These celebrations involve many days and nights of preparation and are held throughout the year in different parts of the archipelago. The following is a list of noteworthy festivals and special events around the country:
09 January - Black Nazarene Procession
Thousands of Catholics crowd around the streets of Quiapo in Manila when the Black Nazarene, the over one hundred-year-old life-size statue of Christ made of Blackwood, is carried throughout town.
Third Sunday of January - Sinulog
An annual festival in Cebu where people dressed in costume gather downtown marching or dancing the peculiar Sinulog steps to honor the Santo Niño, the child Jesus. Hotels are nearly always booked out on this weekend. Smaller-scale Sinulog festivals are celebrated in Kabankalan, Negros, Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte.
Third weekend in January - Ati-atihan
A Philippine-style mardi-gras in Kalibo, Aklan with three days of dancing, singing and drum beating. Thousands of people outrageously costumed and cleverly masked and blackened with charcoal celebrate round the clock until the last evening when a long procession ends the festivities. This is in commemoration of the Child Jesus and of a pact between a group of 10 Islamic warriors, Malay chieftains called Datu, fleeing from the island of Borneo settled in the Philippines, and were granted settlement by the Ati people, the tribes of Panay Island.
January / February - Chinese New Year
Depending on the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year celebrations take place between 21 January and 19 February. Traditional dragon dances and Chinese rituals are performed in Manila’s Chinatown to usher in good fortune for the new year.
February (movable) - International Bamboo Organ Festival in Las Piñas City
Ten days of musical performances of the best of its local musicians and international performers showcasing the unique bamboo organ found only at St. Joseph Church, in Las Piñas City, Metro Manila.
Throughout the month of February - Panagbenga / Baguio Flower Festival
This is month-long annual flower festival occurring in Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines. One of the highlights of this festival is the two-day street dancing, marching band parades and the most awaited part of the festivities, the parade of floral floats (fourth weekend of February or first weekend of March), showcasing pretty floats adorned with roses, chrysanthemums, everlastings, orchids and all sorts of flower species found in Baguio.
22 to 25 February - People Power Revolution Anniversary
This remembers the peaceful end to the Marcos era. Every year a mass followed by a street party are held in EDSA, the historic site of the People Power revolution. Participants usually don the popular yellow shirts worn during the rallies against Marcos dictatorship.
March/April (around Easter) - Moriones
In the island of Marinduque, a colorful week long play re-enacts Christ’s passion. The "Moriones" are men and women in costumes and masks replicating the typical outfit of biblical Roman soldiers as interpreted by local folks. One of the highlights of this festival is the Via Crucis , a re-enactment of the suffering of Christ on his way to the calvary. Men inflict suffering upon themselves by whipping their backs, carrying a wooden cross and sometimes even crucifixion. They see this act as their form of penance for their sins. This weeklong celebration starts on Holy Monday and ends on Easter Sunday.
Throughout the month of May - Flores de Mayo
Throughout the country, little girls and young ladies clad in beautiful gowns offer flowers to the Virgin Mary late in the afternoon or early evening.
Throughout the month of May - Santacruzan
A re-enactment of Reyna Elena’s (Queen Helen) search for the cross, upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. The most beautiful lady is selected to portray Reyna Elena. Other lovely ladies join in the procession as well.