When the summer season blazes on in the Philippine archipelago, foreigners and locals alike rush to the pristine beaches and mystical mountains of the country. But more than that, it is a season filled with the most colourful festivals, known as fiesta, where families reunite in every province to celebrate a year full of blessings and good fortune.

Pahiyas Festival (May 15)

Every May 15, people flock to Lucban in Quezon Province to be amazed with homes decked with kiping, a multi-coloured paper thin, lead-shaped rice kropeck, and harvested vegetables to celebrate the feast of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Besides Lucban, the Pahiyas festival is also observed in Sariaya, Tayabas, and other towns in Quezon.

 

Before leaving Lucban, make sure to have tasted the famous Pancit Habhab, which is stir-fried noodles put in cone-shaped banana leaf wrapping and eaten using just the mouth. The Longganisang Lucban is another mouth-watering delicacy worth to try. 

Santacruzan

Besides the Pahiyas festival, May is also known as the month where every town in the Philippines commemorate the perseverance of St. Helen, also known as Reyna Elena, and her search for the “True Cross.” This sacred tradition known as Santacruzan or Sagala is a procession that culminates 9-day long novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and where the town’s most beautiful girls dress as 42 iconic queens of the biblical times, 24 of which associated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Each lady carries a symbol with her and escorted by men carrying wood-made arks, which shows who she is representing in this procession.

This tradition is also observed by many through a simple procession of ladies (without any biblical personification) with an abundant number of flowers of various types and colours. This is known as Flores de Mayo, which culminates the month-long flower offering to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Carabao Festival (May 14) 

There are also some interesting fiestas in the country worthwhile to see like the Carabao festival in Pulilan, Bulacan where festively adorned water buffalos known as kalabaw are paraded by their owners on the streets leading to the town church. Surprisingly, these kings of the fields kneel down when they get to the church as homage to San Isidro Labrador.

 

Meanwhile in Obando, Bulacan, a three-day celebration in honour of San Pascual Baylon, Sta. Clara, and Nuestra Señora de Salambao is held where childless couples dance along the streets to pray for fertility. Usually, couples blessed with children as well as farmers and fishermen with bountiful harvests also attend this festival.

Obando Festival (May 17 to 19)

In Bulacan, one may find it hard to resist the sweet delicacies such as yema and pastillas, as well as cakes like bibingkang kamoteng kahoy, cassava cake, and sticky rice cakes like sapin-sapin.

It is not only in May do the Filipinos unite to celebrate prosperity and commemorate the saints or some significant historical events. Here is a list of other festivals you must see with your eyes to experience the great and vibrant culture of the Filipinos.

Pintados Festival (June 29)

Join the locales of Tacloban City as they decorate themselves out in intricate patterns of body paint to imitate the warriors in the country during Pre-Hispanic era while dancing to the frantic beat of drums.

Moriones Festival (Holy Week)

Reenacting the life of the Roman soldier St. Longinus, towns of Boac, Morpog, and Gasan in Marinduque turn into stages during the Moriones festival where locales wear masks of Roman centurions and their full regalia costumes.

There are many other festivals to see in the Philippines and it is great to know that many still practice it today (and more new festivals are being celebrated.) It may reflect the cultural diversity in the country, still these fiestas serve as colourful symbols of the Filipino nation that bind us in one main celebration—the life extraordinary.