Panagbenga means ‘season of blooming’. This annual flower festival is held in February in the mountain-top city of Baguio, on the island of Luzon. Visitors flock to Baguio to watch the Sunday parade that works its way along Session Road. Dancers wear flower-themed costumes, and huge floats decorated with hundreds of blooms are pushed through the streets. The festival is especially significant for Baguio, as it symbolizes the city’s recovery from a devastating earthquake that took place in 1990.
Bacolod’s Masskara is the closest thing the Philippines has to a carnival. Held around October 19 every year, a festival is a major event on the island of Negros. Masskara was born in the 1980s, after several years of hard times in the local sugar cane industry. The colorful, smiling masks worn during the festival reflect the Filipino attitude of good cheer in spite of adversity. People gather from all around the Visayas region to celebrate in Bacolod. A parade of dancers, wearing bright costumes and festive masks, troops through the city center, and in the town plaza, pig catching and pole climbing competitions are open to everyone.
You haven’t really seen a Filipino fiesta until you’ve seen Sinulog. Held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Sinulog celebrates the Christ Child, the ‘Santo Niño’ with three days of street parades, a procession of boats on the Mactan Strait, and early morning masses in the historic Basilica del Santo Niño. From a simple street dance (the word ‘sinulog’ describes the movement of water) Cebu now takes its annual fiesta to new heights. Visitors from all over come to celebrate with the Cebuanos in all-night raves, and to watch the parades and floats as they pass through the city.
One of the best Philippine fiestas for culture lovers to attend, Kadayawan showcases the gorgeous island of Mindanao. The word ‘kadayawan’ comes from ‘madayaw’, meaning ‘valuable’ or ‘beautiful’. The festival, held in the third week of August, brings together all that is beautiful in Davao City, with a week-long food fiesta, trade fairs and exhibits, ethnic dances, and a famous floral float parade. Kadayawan is the best time to see the unique tribal costumes and experience the rich culture of Mindanao.