fiesta-phils

The Philippines is often called the “Land of Fiestas.” Filipinos love to eat, have fun and enjoy themselves. There is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the Philippines throughout the year as each city, town or even barrio (community) has at least one fiesta of its own. Some fiestas are really huge and well-known nationally and internationally that attract many foreign tourists, such as the Dinagyang in Iloilo, Ati-atihan in Kalibo, Aklan, the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila and the Christmas lantern festival in San Fernando, Pampanga. On a smaller scale, town fiestas are celebrated during the feast of the patron saint of the town.

History of Fiesta in the Philippines

Some fiestas were ancient or indigenous rites associated with prayers for rain and good harvest or for the rivers and seas to yield bountiful fish. Water-dousing events in fiestas are linked to Buddhist rites. For instance, the Ati-atihan started when Malay tribal chiefs made the peace treaty with the local Atis nearly 800 years ago. When Spain colonized the country in the 16th century, the Catholic religion was integrated into all facets of Filipino lives, including indigenous celebrations. American historian John Leddy Phelan said that the Spaniards had instituted the fiesta in Filipino towns in order to draw the people into one central area, creating a forum for Christianizing the populace.

Celebration of Filipino Community

A fiesta typically revolves around the parish church. Everybody is welcome and everybody is involved with the fiesta from the Mayor to the beggar. It is also homecoming for many who work or live elsewhere. “Prominent citizens are honored. It is a time of renewal – houses are repaired and cleaned, streets and public places decorated, religious icons repainted or re-dressed,” according to Alfredo Roces, the author of Culture Shock: Philippines. “There are old friends and kin to see. There are the beauty queens and the lovely young ladies with their shy, timid escorts looking uncomfortable in new clothes and shiny shoes.”

Fiesta Filipino Food

Filipino women start preparing fiesta dishes a couple of days in advance. A whole roasted pig called Lechon is the most significant fiesta food. Other labor-intensive fiesta dishes include pancit (noodle dishes), stuffed chicken or fish, embutido (Filipino meatloaf), Filipino paella and leche flan (Filipino custard pudding).

Fiesta Activities

Palosebo (a game that you reach the prize at the top of the greased bamboo pole), the juego de anillo (a game that you pierce suspended rings with a pole while riding a bicycle), basketball and volleyball competitions, singing and dancing contests are popular fiesta events. For grown up men, a cockfight, one of the most popular national sports in the Philippines, is a common fiesta feature. They all have a role to play and guests are treated well but the fiesta is more than just having a good time.

“Fiesta time tells the Filipino where he came from and who he is. The Filipino organism comes alive, fed by rituals and the coming together of the kin,” said Roces.

Sources: Alfredo Roces, 1985, Culture Shock: Philippines, Portland, Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company

Town/District Fiesta Schedules in Iloilo:

January

  • Housing  Mandurriao  on January 1
  • San Joaquin – Municipal Foundation Day on January 3
  • Tigbauan – Feast of San Juan de Sahagun on January 3
  • Tubungan – Feast of San Antonio de Abbot on January 17
  • Arevalo District, Iloilo City – Annual District Fiesta on third weekend of January
  • Mandurriao District, Iloilo City  – Religious Fiesta on November 26
  • New Lucena  – Feast of Nuestra Sra. De Buen Viaje on January 24
  • Bingawan – Feast of San Paulo de Conversion on January 25
  • Janiuay – Feast of San Julian on January 28

February

  • Jaro District, Iloilo City – Feast of our Ladt of Candles on February 2
  • Passi City – Feast of San Guillermo on February 10

April

  • Batad – Feast of San Vincente Ferer on April 5
  • Leganes – Feast of San Vincente Ferer on April 5
  • San Dionisio – Feast of San Vincente Ferer on April 5

May

  • Pavia – Feast of Sta. Monica on May 4
  • Dumangas – Municipal Foundation Day on May 5
  • Pototan – Feast of San Jose on May 8
  • San Miguel – Feast of San Miguel de Archangel on May 8
  • Zarraga  – Feast of San Isidro Labrador onMay 15, 2008
  • Estancia – Feast of Ma. Reyna Sto. Rosario on May 15-16
  • Anilao – Feast of Sta. Rita de Cassia on May 22
  • Guimbal – Municipal Foundation Day on May 22
  • La Paz District, Iloilo City – Annual District Fiesta on May 23
  • San Enrique – Feast of Santa Maria on May 24

June

  • Barotac Nuevo – Feast of San Antonio de Padua on June 13
  • Badiangan – Feast of San Juan de Bautista on June 24
  • Banate – Feast of San Juan de Bautista on June 24
  • Dingle – Feast of San Juan de Bautista on June 24
  • Igbaras – Feast of San Juan de Bautista on June 24
  • Sara – Feast of San Juan de Bautista on June 24
  • Barotac Viejo – Feast of San Pedro de Apostol June 29
  • Lemery – June 23

July

  • Balasan – Feast of Sta. Ana on July 26
  • Molo District, Iloilo City  – Feast of  Sta. Ana on July 26

August

  • San Joaquin  – Feast of San Joaquin on August 16

September

  • Ajuy – Fest of San Nicolas De Tolentino on September 10
  • Cabatuan – Feast of San Nicolas De Tolentino on September 10
  • Guimbal – Feast of San Nicolas De Tolentino on September 10
  • Lambunao – Feast of San Nicolas De Tolentino on September 10
  • Alimodian – Feast of Sto. Tomas de Villanova on September 22
  • Miagao – Feast of Sto. Tomas de Villanova on September 22
  • Duenas – Fest of San Jeronimo on September 30

October

  • Mina  – Feast of Nuestra Sra. Del Pilar on October 12
  • Carles – Feast of Sta, Teresa de Jesus on October 15
  • San Rafael – Feast of San Rafael de Archangel on October 24

November

  • All Soul’s Day – November 1
  • Leon  – Feast of Sta. Catalina de Alijandria on November 25
  • Mandurriao District, Iloilo City  – Annual District Fiesta on November 26

December

  • Sta. Barbara – Feast of Sta. Barbara on December 4
  • Calinog – Feast of Immaculada Concepcion on December 8
  • Concepcion – Feast of Immaculada Concepcion on December 8
  • Oton – Feast of Immaculada Concepcion on December 8
  • Maasin – Feast of San Jaime onDecember 30

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