A festival is an essential part of Filipino culture, and almost every town and city in the country have their own feasts to flaunt. The Philippine festivals are commonly religious and held in honor of certain saints. Others are meant to showcase indigenous group performances and bring awareness of their cultural traditions, while some are meant to exhibit their native products.
Some of the festivals to watch out for this September:
One of the most popular feasts in the country - Naga’s Peñafrancia Festival centers on the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. This year, the theme is “Thank God for Ina, I am a Catholic now and for Always”. Watch out for the Miss Bicolandia on September 5, while September 13 is meant for the Civic Parade and Voyadores Festival. The much-awaited Fluvial Procession usually participated by thousands of devotees will be held on September 15.
General Santos (South Cotabato) 14th Tuna Festival theme for 2012 is “Tuna Fest, Tuna Fun in Magandang Gensan” promoting the city as a prime destination for culinary and ocean adventures, locally and globally. The culminating week is on Sept 5-9. Highlights are the Tuna Float Parade on Sept 5 and Street Dancing Competition September 9.
Lemlunay (T’Boli Tribal Festival) is held around September 16-18 in Lake Sebu (South Cotabato) which features cultural dance performances. This festival features the six major tribes of South Cotabato: T’boli, Maguindanao, Tasaday, Kalagan, Manobo and Ubo.
The Seaweeds Festival in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi is meanwhile held every 4th week of September. It aims to promote the seaweed industry of the province. During the fiesta, the revelers don colorful ethnic-inspired costumes and some clothes worn are made of dried seaweeds.
Attending a festival is a fun experience but it could also turn into a daunting moment for the uninitiated. Be prepared for the large crowd, noise, touts, traffic and heat.
Here are some friendly reminders to survive the revelry:
1. Book your hotel and your flights ahead of time. You will be able to score cheaper flights and avoid the hassle of looking around for alternative place to stay since hotels are mostly likely fully-booked during the feast.
2. Wear comfortable clothes, shoes or sandals. Wearing heels is a big no. Skip dark colored shirts and opt for white or light-colored neutrals as they absorb less heat. Bring extra clothes in case you need to change. Wear hats and shades. Avoid wearing too much accessories or jewelries.
3. Remember to eat plenty to keep your energy up, and bring plenty of water or drinks to keep you hydrated. Bring chips, nuts, energy bars, and biscuits in case you get hungry while watching the cultural show or street parade.
4. Bring wet wipes, tissue, small towel, hanky, fan and sunblock.
5. If possible, wear a belt wallet that goes under your clothes to secure your money. Keep mobile phones, gadgets and valuables in one bag and do not let it out of your sight till you get home. Lighten up; do not bring unnecessary things.
6. Stack up on cash because most likely the ATMs will have long lines.
7. Ask for the route of the street parade and strategically position yourself in the most happening places.
8. If you are tagging kids along, make sure they stay by your side. In case they get lost, report it immediately to one of the festival tents. Remember to have your child save your number so someone can text or call you in case they find your child.
9. Find a place to rest and cool down from the heat and the crowd.
10. Experience the street party at night if there’s any. Feast is synonymous to free food so accept invites for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Enjoy and embrace the festival spirit!
Gael Hilotin is the author of The Pinay Solo Backpacker.