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12 Philippine festivals you should see in 2016 – Part 1

The year is about to end and 2016 is just around the corner. But before 2015 closes its curtains, we, being the Weekend Warriors that we are, should already have a list of destinations (or at least starting to make one) for next year. One destination per month isn’t so bad, right? With careful planning and research, we might just be able to pull it off.

But, where to? With so many choices and very limited time (not to mention resources),  we get confused as to where to go! Surely we’ve had our healthy dose of beaches and mountains and other adventures this year. As for next year, maybe its time to revisit our culture and enjoy one of the best traditions the Spaniards left us – fiesta!

So, to help you guys with that, I’ve compiled a list of 12 Philippine Festivals you might want to check out and add in your “2016 Destinations” list.

12 months. 12 festivals.

January – Dinagyang Festival (Iloilo City)

Brace yourself for colorful and exciting street dancing, endless parties, and gorgeous probinsyana’s. If you haven’t been to Iloilo City, January next year is the perfect time to do so.

Exactly a week after the Sinulog Festival in Cebu comes the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo. The festival is held to show reverence of Santo Niño as well and to mark the onset of the arrival of Malay immigrants.

I was able to attend the said festival back in 2012 with a couple of friends and I must say it is one of the best festivals I have covered and been to. Forget Sinulog for a moment and experience a less commercialized but just-as-awesome festival. After (or before) the festival, you can hop to Guimaras Island for a quick side trip.

Schedule: January 22 – 24



February – Hot Air Balloon Festival (Clark, Pampanga)

Imagine yourself standing in the middle of an open field, with the light of the sun slowly arching across the sky and the cold February air brushing against your face. Now imagine looking left, right, turning around, and practically everywhere you look, you see hundreds and hundreds of hot air balloons either being inflated or already rising up to the air. Isn’t that a wonder?

I haven’t been to HAB Festival and I intend to crush it off my list next year. Though the schedule of activities isn’t posted on the festival’s official website ( yet, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be awesome, considering next year marks its 20th anniversary AND Saturday night happens to be the eve of Valentine’s Day.

Now imagine holding your partners hand (or a Doritos, if you haven’t got one) while enjoying the fireworks. Sweet!

Schedule: Feb 11 – 14

(c) Sir Mervs
(c) Sir Mervs |
(c) Sir Mervs
(c) Sir Mervs |

March – Moriones Festival (Marinduque)

The Moriones Festival is an annual recreation of the the life of Saint Longinus; the word ‘morion’ means ‘mask.’ Longinus was the half-blind centurion tasked with driving a spear into the side of Jesus. When Jesus’ blood touched him, Longinus’ vision returned. He then converted to Christianity and turned his back on his fellow centurions.

During the week-long festival which happens during the Lenten season, the scary and mighty Morions roam around the towns of Marinduque to showcase their colorful Roman centurion costumes and masks to the the delight of the spectators attending the event.

To make your visit worthwhile, you may go on island hopping at Santa Cruz, Manuaya, and Mompong islands.

Shedule: March 20 – 27

(c) funkyhelpermonk
(c) funkyhelpermonk |
(c) JL Villareal
(c) JL Villareal |

April – Mango Festival (Zambales)

While Zambales is home to some of the most pristine beaches and idyllic islands, it is also home to oh-so-delicious and mouth watering sweet mangoes.

In 1995, Zambales mangoes made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as being the sweetest mango in the world. Needless to say organizers saw the need to celebrate all the mango goodness.

As is with other festivals in the country, the Mango Festival is celebrated with festive street dances and, non-surprisingly, mango-eating contests where contestants (read: tourists and visitors) compete to see who can eat the most mangoes in a given period.

You may also include in your itinerary scuba diving, waterfalls hunting, and an overnight at the famous Anawangin cove.

Schedule: April 19

(c) Expat Philippines |
(c) Expat Philippines |

May – Sarangani Bay Festival (Glan, Sarangani)

“When we say jump, you say SARBAY!!!”

Once a year during the month of May, the quiet province of Sarangani and the Sarangani Bay in Glan itself (dubbed as the “Boracay of the South”) is flooded with visitors from neighboring provinces and cities, big thanks to the Sarangani Bay (or SarBay) Festival. In recent years, the festival has grown bigger and bigger, thanks to social media.

Various events take place during this two-day festival of music, food, and fun. Boat race, beach volleyball, and skim boarding competitions are just some of the few of the adrenaline-packed activities that take place in the morning and afternoon. In the evening, the whole place turns into a wet and wild party as the DJ’s play EDM while the booze keeps flowing.

Without a doubt, SarBay Festival is the biggest outdoor party in the southern part of the country that you should definitely not miss.

Schedule: May 14 – 15

(c) Sarangani Today |
(c) Sarangani Today |
(c) DOT Philippines
(c) DOT Philippines

June – Pista ng San Juan (San Juan, Metro Manila)

The Feast of St. John the Baptist in San Juan, MM is one of the wildest (well, not really) and wettest (like literally wet) festivals in the country. This Filipino custom is the most appropriate way of commemorating the only saint, other than Mary, whose birth is celebrated in the Christian liturgy.

Anyone who goes to the town of San Juan on the morning of June 24 cannot stay dry. neither will anyone who visits small towns near a stream, a river, or the sea before noon. The experience is supposed to remind one of one’s baptism.

Other cities/towns to see and get drenched include Baylan in Batangas, which stages a lechon parade (Parada ng Lechon); Punta in Taytay, near Bacolod City, in Negros Occidental; and Camiguin, North Mindanao.

Schedule: June 24

(c) GMA News
(c) GMA News
(c) News.CN
(c) News.CN

Part 2 to be continued…

Related: Holidays in Philippines in 2016



Published in Daily thoughts