Summer (in the Philippines) is here and everyone is already excited to plan those much-anticipated vacations. Other than visiting the country’s breathtaking tropical islands, joining festivals is also one the country’s best highlights. So here are some of the local festivities to check out this season:
Obando fertility rites
May 17-19 | Obando, Bulacan
Despite being a predominantly Catholic country, ancient rituals and traditions still continue to display the pagan roots of the Filipino culture. Traditionally known as Sayaw sa Obando, this festival is a town celebration in honor of three patron saints: Santa Clara, San Pascual Baylon and Virgin of Salambao. Aside from being a part of the country’s tradition and culture, this festival is also among the popular tourist attractions.
So what makes this event quite an interest among devotees and tourists? Couples come to Obando to take part in the dance ritual in the hopes of having a child or finding a lover. The hopefuls, together with other performers, surround the image of the saint they are honoring or praying to. Childless women, in their desire to fulfill their motherhood, fill the streets of the town dancing throughout the procession. Some say that those who wish to have a wife offer dance ritual to San Pascual Baylon, while those seeking a wife must dance to the image of Santa Clara de Assisi. Fishermen and farmers also dance to the Virgin of Salambao for good fortune and harvest. With hands in the air, devotees and hopefuls, along with the town’s locals clad in colorful costume, sway and swing to the rhythmic melody performed by accompanying bands.
May 15 | Lucban, Quezon
One of the country’s most colorful festivals, the San Isidro Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon is a religious celebration in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. It is a grand showcase of the Filipino resourcefulness and abundant harvests where the streets of this quaint town are transformed into a remarkable attraction through the flamboyant and unique decors. Payas or Pahiyas means adorning houses and walls with agricultural harvests, thus origin of the festival’s name. The remarkable decors displayed in houses and along the streets are made of brightly-colored rice wafers locally called kiping. In addition to that are other bountiful produce such as a variety of fruits and vegetables.
April 22-27 | Liliw, Laguna
And what better way to stroll around than wearing the most convenient footwear that’s locally made? Just in time for the summer season, the little town of Liliw in Laguna celebrates the Tsinelas Festival, where colorful and creative floats, featuring 7-feet tsinelas (slippers), parade through the town’s streets. With more than 80 stores along the Gat Tayaw Street which sells stylish collection of footwear, its leading industry has truly been a major tourism draw. When celebrating a festival in a place dubbed as the Footwear Capital of Laguna, everyone is definitely in for a shopping spree!
And aside from showcasing its footwear products, locals also promote other goods such as uraro (arrow root cookies), espasol (glutinous rice cakes), lambanog (coconut wine) and other delicacies. This week-long, annual merriment is also in honor of the town’s founder – Gat Tayaw, where locals remember the historical origin of Liliw through a parade of bird mascots, games, contests and cultural activities.
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