May is another typical festival month in the Philippines
April – May / La Carlota City, Negros Occidental
Pasalamat Festival is an annual celebration of giving thanks to the God of elements after a bountiful harvest. The streets of La Carlota City is flocked by hundreds of tourist and has a festive atmosphere during its weeklong celebration. There are various activities lined up for a week, which highlights a Mardi Gras, float parade and the Arena Dance Competition.
May 14, Parañaque.
Every May 14, Parañaque’s annual fiesta is highlighted by its very unique street pageant called the Sunduan. The term “sunduan” is derived from the word sundo which literally means “to fetch” and relates to an old courtship custom of waiting on one’s lady love, accompanying her to the town plaza, and bringing her home. Sunduan is another celebration unique to Parañaque. It conveys the message that Paraqueños are romantics; that their womenfolk are regarded with love and respect; and that Chivalry is alive in Parañaque. But digging deeper into this celebration, the sunduan is another metaphor of Christ’s and Mary’s ascension to heaven; in this case the young ladies represent the two divinities while the gentlemen take the place of the heavenly spirits. This allegory is strengthened by the fact that although there is no immediate spiritual significance to the ceremony, it is still the parish that usually organizes this event.
It is a parade/procession of pairs of men and women from the barrio. Women are clad in traditional stylish gowns and men are in “jusi” or “pina” barong tagalog. Local marching band tags along at the end of the procession to render music to the lovely pairs.
The procession starts from the house of the hermano/hermana mayor where in all the male participants are waiting. The procession will pass by at the houses of the females where they will be fetched by their male escorts who are carrying a beautifully decorated umbrella. When all the female participants are fetched, they will parade around the barrio.
Even balik-bayans from these barrios go home just to participate in this tradition. Sometimes movie stars and government officials are also invited to join this traditional procession/parade.
ALIWAN GRAND FIESTA
Early May / at Star City, CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Manila A fiesta you have to see
A three-day event that will highlight the country’s 16 regions at their best with the largest carnival-style parade. Major components are in the festival, float and fireworks competitions. It will also feature nightly concerts of the country’s best performers and biggest cultural market with products and food from the 16 regions. The much-awaited summer cultural extravaganza will feature street dance contingents that emerged champions in the biggest regional festivals nationwide.
Each delegation is also encouraged to take part in the float parade, and to send their regional entries to a talent competition for the annual Pasakalye on opening night. Their loveliest muses will also vie for the title of festival queen (Reyna ng Aliwan).
The grand parade will usually kick off at the Quirino Grandstand and make its way to the CCP Complex for the culminating showdown in front of the Aliw Theater.
BAWANG (GARLIC) FESTIVAL
Early May / Sinait, Ilocos Sur
An annual festival to promote the major product of the town garlic or “bawang”. Festivity includes: street dancing competition in garlic inspired costumes, election of Miss Garlic Festival, biggest garlic contestant: longest most creative twined garlic.
Must bring: A big pack of breath mints — for very obvious reasons. or maybe a gas mask?
DAVAO GULF REGATTA
Early May / Davao Oriental
A region wide float parade representing all municipalities along the gulf, converge in one place featuring decorated bancas and vintas of different designs for competition.
Whole month of May, Antipolo City
It is during the month of May when Filipino devotees to the Blessed Virgin from different parts of the country throng on the hills of Antipolo to make a pilgrimage at the shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage).
The folk song Tayo na sa Antipolo vividly captures the festive air of this season in this rural town some decades ago “when the smell of suman and ripe mangoes competed with the fruitier smell of the Antipolo system; and you were always either praying in the church, or bathing at Hinulugang Taktak, or playing tres-siete and panguingue, or roasting kasuy nuts.”
FLORES DE MAYO or SANTACRUZAN
May 01 – 31 / Nationwide
Every town, municipality or barangay or parish is celebrating this fiesta differently and on different dates.
A parade of the town’s loveliest ladies depicting the search and discovery of Christ’s Cross by Queen Helena and Constantine.
The name is derived from Flores, the Spanish word for “flowers”. Also known as “Flores de María” (“Flowers of Mary”) or “Álay” (Filipino for “offering”), the term refers to the festival as a whole. It was believed that “Flores” (short term for Flores de Mayo) originated in 1865 from the town of Malolos, Bulacan, when the young girls would make a floral offering to the Virgin Mary in the parish church.
A Santacruzan is a religious-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns and even small villages throughout the Philippines during the month of May. One of the most colorful May-time festivals in the Philippines which depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Many movie and television personalities participate in the events and are featured as major sagalas and escorts. Nine days of prayer (a novena) in honor of the Holy Cross precedes the Flores de Mayo or Santacruzan. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards in the Philippines and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love and romance. The procession is followed by the steady beat of rondalla, playing and singing “Dios Te Salve”. The devotees walking with the procession hold lighted candles in their hands and singing the prayer.
Dios Te Salve (Hail Mary)
Dios te salve Maria
Llena eres de gracia
El senor es contigo
Bendita tu eres
Entre todas las mujeres
Y bendito es el fruto
Y bendito es el fruto
De tu vientre Jesus.
Santa Maria Madre de Dios
Ruega por nosotros
Y en la hora
De nuestra muerte amen. Jesus.
May 03 / Pavia, Iloilo
This festival displays the Pavianhon’s ingenuity as a people. This is participated by the eighteen barangays of the municipality and consists of three main events, namely:
- Carabao-Carroza Parade. Gaily decorated carrozas pulled by gaily decorated carabaos vie for the “Most Gaily Decorated Carabao-Carroza” with their muses in Filipiniana costumes.
- Carabao-Carroza Race. Carabaos each pulling a carroza (bamboo sled) with a rider find their way racing on a 110-meter line.
- Search for the Festival Queen.
Done in a starry May evening at the public plaza. Special awards given are: Best in Interview, Best in Talent, Best in Summer Wear, Best in Evening Gown, Best in Production Number, Ms. Photogenic and Ms. Congeniality.
VIVA VIGAN FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
1st week of May / Vigan, Ilocos Sur
A festival in a setting replete with history, heritage and cultural treasures.
Visitors are encouraged to squeeze into their six-day Viva Vigan experience the watching of the calesa parade, ramada or traditional games, comedia or stage drama, Santa Cruzan parade, fashion show and house decoration, singing contests and beauty pageants and other exciting events like the Amazing Heritage Race. They can also participate in religious rituals or visit exhibits, garden shows, as well as trade and food fairs.
MALAKAWAN “PINYA” FESTIVAL
May 09-15 / Calauan, Laguna
Calauan, Laguna is known for its prime agricultural product- “pinya” (pineapple). Claiming their local product is the sweetest in the Philippines, the town is trooped by people from near or far alike. It is just natural that their local officials create a festival using their most treasured possession.
The Pinya Festival started in May, 2003 as the highlight in the celebration of the town’s fiesta, the feast of San Isidro Labrador. The festivities include Trade Fair Exhibit, Nightly Cultural Presentations, Culinary Contest, Search for Binibining Calauan, Grand Float Parade and Mardigras Street Dancing.
BEAR BRAND KITEFEST
May / Rizal Park, Manila
(This event is also held on other locations in the Philippines)
A wholesome event for the entire family to bond and have fun together and provides opportunities for everyone to showcase the Filipino artistry. Competition is open to everybody, build your kite and show it on this festival.
AGAWAN SA SARIAYA
Around May 15 / Sariaya, Quezon
Celebrate the feast of San Isidro Labrador on May 15 and experience the most colorful fiesta in the Philippines! Walk along the streets and see the colorful “kipings” used to decorate their houses or join in the “agawan” at Sariaya after the 3pm mass and bring home some of the town’s vegetable and fruit harvests. Shop for food and handicrafts such as longganisa, broas, pianono de patatas, beautiful baskets, bags, and hats galore!
Joyous preparations for the feast of Saint Isidro de Labrador, patron saint of farmers and laborers, begins on the eve of May 14. The best of their crops are hung on the windows, walls, arenas, and young bamboo trees called “Bagakays.” As soon as the procession of the patron saint passes a decorated house, people are allowed to get its crop decor.
Around May 15 / Lucban, Quezon
An annual celebration to usher in a bountiful harvest. Homes are decorated with the town’s best agricultural products. A little similar to Agawan sa Sariaya festival.
MAYOHAN SA TAYABAS
Around May 15 / Tayabas, Quezon
Mayohan sa Tayabas is the yearly program of the municipal government to foster solidarity and community in the town.
Mayohan is the stellar attraction during the month of May. A grand, colorful and folksy Parada ang Baliskog welcomes guests to Mayohan Festival. “Kog” means “arc” and there is a parade of welcome arcs, imaginatively decked with local flowers and palay (rice grain). Annually, 66 barangays, government and non-government organizations, art groups join the parade. A display of baliskog made from indigenous materials like coconut leaves, coco husks, bamboo poles, buli, rattan, dried flowers and tistis fill the streets of Tayabas and joyously welcome visitors and the summer season.
PULILAN CARABAO FESTIVAL
May 14 – 15 / Pulilan, Bulacan Hundreds of work animals, mostly carabaos, are led on a parade in the streets of the town every 14th and 15th of May to honor its patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. The oiled and perfumed carabaos decorated with garland and shaved for the occasion, genuflect or kneel in front of the church. Witness the colorful Carabao Festival and religious activities of the town. On the 14th of May, farmers all over the town pay tribute to their patron saint. San Isidro Labrador, in glorious thanksgiving for a year-long bountiful harvest. The celebration is manifested by hanging all sorts of fruits, candies, food crops and multi-colored kipings on bamboo poles. The festival is highlighted by kneeling of carabaos in front of the church and the symbolic floats. Every year, a sea of frolicking humanity comes in droves to witness this showcasing innate talent of the carabaos. The second day a friendly carabao race is held.
MANGGAHAN SA GUIMARAS FESTIVAL
3rd week of May / Guimaras
A commemorative celebration of the anniversary of Guimaras as a province. Highlighted by street dancing, a technology fair, cultural presentations, painting and drawing contest, selection of mango bulilit queen, a marathon race and many more.
The island province of Guimaras is also known as the “Mango Country of Western Visayas,” producing mangoes “…one in the world renowned for its sweetness.” Guimaras mango first entered the world market in 2002. This paved the way for the Department of Tourism to give top priority in their campaign showcasing the “Manggahan Festival” celebrated every third week of May every year.
Guimaras considers its native mango to be the best tasting in the world. Want proof of this? Drop by this month, as the island celebrates its annual Mango festival. It is a fun-filled day of mango-mania, complete with street-dancing parade, cultural presentations and art contests.
OBANDO FERTILITY RITES
May 17-19 / Obando, Bulacan
The Obando Fertility Rites is a Filipino dance ritual held every year in May.
Men, women and children dance through the streets wearing traditional costume, singing and playing bamboo instruments, alongside the images of their patron saints (San Pascual Baylon, Santa Clara, and Nuestra Señora de Salambao) in the hope that their prayers and wishes will be granted.
For Santa Clara, the childless dance, praying for children and the unmarried dance in the hope of finding a mate (with the women and men dancing on separate days). Parents dance in thanksgiving for finding a mate and for the blessing of children. Fishermen and farmers dance for a good harvest.
According to experts, the dance must be performed with gyrating hips in time to the music and with belief. Many of town’s people join in the dance although they may have no particular petition. One can observe the numerous childless couples, thankful parents, grateful farmers and fishermen dance along the streets together with colorful costumed women to pray for children and a good harvest. The population growth attests to the effectiveness of the right movements.
PAGSALABUK FESTIVAL / LINGGO NG DIPOLOG
May 20 to July 1 / Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte (the Orchid city of the Philippines)
A long festival which culminates with colorful ethnic inspired street dancing.
Dance contests are most ballroom dances but only on the sound of drums. Every barangay has several contestants and only 1 can win, also groups are dancing.
May 25 / Calbiga, Samar
A grand parade and street dancing with participants dressed in scarecrow costumes.
The month of May starts in a different kind of celebrations for the residents of the town of Calbiga, Samar. From an outsider’s point of view, the festival that is known as ‘Pahoy Pahoy Farmers’ Festival may be considered as simply one of the many fiestas that the Filipinos are famous in observing. However, an important legend with valuable lessons is the source of why this occasion needs to be remembered.
It is a story of triumph, which is a cause for merriment for the townspeople.
According to a tale that has been passed on to the present generation of Calbiga inhabitants, the town has always been dependent on its various rice lands as the means of income and food. As such, it attracted the ricebirds, or locally known as maya, which would arrive in waves and cause destruction in the rice fields. Famine was imminent but the village folks found an ally in the pahoys or scarecrows. With the help of the latter, it scared away the ricebirds and saved the town from possible starvation. From that time on, the inhabitants of Samar has shown their appreciation by celebrating the PahoyPahoy Farmers’ Festival.
Other pages with festivals are:
• Chinese New Year •
• March • April •
• Holy Week and Easter •
• May • June • July •
• August • September •
• October • November • December •
• Christmas and New Year •