|Christmas at the University of Sto. Tomas campus|
(Photo from UST Paskuhan Facebook)
We all know that Filipinos celebrate the longest Christmas season. On top of that are many festivals celebrated in different cities and regions in the Philippines. Here's a list of some Philippine festivals and events you can look forward to this month:Events and Week-long Festivals:
Ala Eh! Festival 2011 (Dec. 1 to 8) Batangas Province
Calaca, Batangas hosts this year's Ala Eh Festival which also marks the 430th Foundation Anniversary of the Batangas province. A talent competition, dance contest, parade, and street dancing are just a few of the activities lined up for this festival. See the schedule of activities here.
U.P. Pag-iilaw and Lantern Parade (Dec. 5 to 16) University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
The Christmas celebration at the state university is one of the most anticipated events by the public, perhaps next to the annual Oblation run. The theme of this year's celebration is Pasko 2011: Isang Unibersidad, Isang Komunidad. The annual lighting ceremony or Pag-iilaw marks the beginning of the University's celebration. An art exhibit on the University's Christmas traditions, carol competition, belen contest (where students depict the Nativity Scene using recycled materials), dance contest, and a colorful lantern parade (December 16) are just some of the events to watch out for. Learn more about these events here. If you are in Baguio City at that time, don't worry, because the University of the Philippines in Baguio will hold its annual Pasiklaban (Christmas celebration and lantern parade) on December 16.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)
Cities and towns with large Catholic communities honor the Blessed Virgin Mary through various activities. In Puerto Princessa City, Palawan, cultural presentations and a fluvial parade are usually held. In San Teodoro, Mindoro Oriental, guests can expect street dancing and parade to celebrate this occasion. In Taal, Batangas, the locals honor the Immaculate Conception through a two-day fluvial parade. In Manila, a mass and a parade are held in honor of Mary.
This is a celebration of the Pangasinense's faith, culture, and arts. It's in honor of the Pangasinan province's patron, Our Lady of Manaoag. A thanksgiving mass, lighting of Christmas tree, street parties and cultural performances are just some of the exciting activities. The schedule of activities for this year's festival can be found here
The Sinukwan Festival highlights San Fernando's unique traditions in celebrating the Christmas season. This year's celebrations highlights Kapampangan food and Pampanga's historical churches. The Pistang Pamangan Kapampangan, a food festival and variety show, will be held on December 9 while the Opening Ceremony of the Sinukwan Festival will be held on December 10. Other activities include exhibits on food and churches of Pampanga, a drum and lyre competition, a beauty pageant, kundiman, fireworks display, and a grand parade and street-dancing on December 16. For festival updates, go to this page.
Luglugan-Pancit Malabon Festival (December 10) Malabon
It is a culinary festival that features the tasty noodle dish Pancit Malabon. Expect fun street dancing, a grand parade, aneating contest, and a display of large bilaos of Pancit Malabon to celebrate this occasion.
Kasadya-an Festival (December 12-14 or 3rd week of December) Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental
The longest running annual festival of Dumaguete City features a Mardi-Gras style celebration of Christmas.
UST Paskuhan (December 16) University of Sto. Tomas, Manila
Visit the oldest Catholic University in Asia and see the dazzling Christmas lights and colorful decorations all over the campus. The celebrations will start with a mass on December 15 followed by a Christmas program featuring the best local talents plus an amazing fireworks display on December 16.
Giant Lantern Festival (December 17) San Fernando, Pampanga
This lantern festival does not feature your typical paper lanterns but humongous, colorful lanterns that give the illusion of dancing lights. Each lantern (at least 18 feet in diameter) is prepared by a barangay or community thus highlighting the spirit of cooperation and creativity among the people of San Fernando. This year, the festival will be held at Robinson Starmills with 10 barangays participating. The lanterns are definitely a sight to behold such that the festival draws a lot of guests each year.
|Giant Lantern Festival Schedule|
The Maytinis Festival is a grand reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for a place to give birth to Jesus Christ. Colorful floats bearing the characters of the Bible are paraded on the streets and select households are transformed to look like places in Jerusalem.
Pakalog sa Pasig (Dec. 31) Santolan, Pasig City
Some people mistake the Pakalog sa Pasig as a lechon festival. This festival actually marks the end of the year and welcomes the new year through a grand feast on the streets where everyone can partake of the festival food, which includes the delicious lechon.
Christmas in Baguio (Dec. 1 to 31) Baguio City
Baguio's cool weather, pine trees, and colorful Christmas celebration drive a lot of tourists to this city during the holidays. A ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree, a Mardi Gras parade, a lights and music festival, and cultural presentations are just a few of the activities the city is holding this season. Find out more about their holiday activities here.
Kamundagan Festival (Dec. 1 to 31) Naga City, Camarines Sur
Kamundagan means "the coming into existence of something." It is a month-long celebration of the birth of Christ and a showcase of the Bicolano's Christmas traditions. The major activities of the festival will happen on the 15th. See the Kamundagan Fiesta schedule here.
|Crowds outside the Basilica Minore, Cebu City|
Pasko sa Sugbu (Dec. 1 to 30) Cebu City
Each year, the Pasko sa Sugbu begins with the ceremonial light-up of the giant Christmas tree (around 120 feet tall) at Fuente Osmena and a grand fireworks display. The Pasko sa Sugbu is a showcase of the Cebuano's artistry and talents and it is a prelude to the Sinulog Festival which happens every January. Nightly cultural shows, lantern-making and display, food festival, and other festive activities are usually held the whole month.
Caroling and Belen (Dec. 1 to Jan. 2) Cagayan de Oro City
The whole city of Cagayan de Oro mark the holidays with a competition for the best belen (nativity scene) and best carols. Different barangays participate in this merry occasion which is supported by different local groups and business organizations.
Misa De Gallo (Dec. 16 to 24) Nationwide
This is the Filipino tradition of attending dawn masses starting December 16 and ends with a midnight mass on the eve of Christmas. It is considered a special event in this predominantly Catholic country as parishes and local government units also hold festivities during this occasion.
Christmas Festival (Dec. 16 to Jan. 1) Dipolog City, Dapitan City & Zamboanga City
All three cities celebrate Pasko (Christmas) through exciting Christmas presentations, fun-filled competitions, and bright holiday lights and decors.
Among these festivals and events, I'm looking forward to seeing the Giant Lantern Festival in Pampanga and the U.P. Lantern Parade. I usually just witness those events on TV which I'm sure is half the fun of experiencing the festivities in person.
What about you? Which of these festivals and events do you like to see this holiday season? Are there other December festivals which you think should be added to this list?