We came across a list of top 5 restaurants in the Philippines, compiled by the It’s More Fun in the Philippines website — KaLui (Puerto Princesa, Palawan), Abe, Chocolate de Batirol (Baguio City), La Preciosa (Laoag, Ilocos Norte), Cafe Juanita (Pasig). We’ve visited all these restaurants (and then some) and we can humbly say that other restaurants should be in that list (Lantaw of Cebu, for instance). So why don’t we have our own list? We can start with the Top 5 Festivals that everyone must visit, see and experience this year, 2014.
1. Sinulog Festival (Cebu City). The mother of Philippine mardi gras, some would say. Every third Sunday of January, Cebuanos and tourists shout Pit Senyor! and give tribute to the Sto. Nino. The Sinulog is a month-long festival with religious events taking up much of the month, culminating in a colorful socio-cultural event considered by many as the mother of Philippine mardi gras. Book your flight and hotels early, because Cebu City and the surrounding cities are jampacked during Sinulog. See Sinulog (Cebu City).
2. Panagbenga Festival (Baguio City). This is a colorful flower festival celebrated every February at the heart of the Philippines’ summer capital, Baguio City. The mountainous northern Philippines, because of its cold temperature, is a top flower producer. Every February, these flowers cover and adorn floats of all sizes and designs. See the article on Panagbenga 2013: Grand Float Parade and Baguio attractions.
3. Pahiyas Festival (Lucban, Quezon). Celebrated every May 15, the Pahiyas Festival continues the tradition of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. The tradition existed even before the coming of the Spaniards and, obviously, the introduction of San Isidro Labrador as patron saint came with the Spaniards. Local inhabitants would display their farm products on doors and windows, creating a mix of colors. See our post on the Colors and Tradition of Pahiyas Festival, Lucban.
4. Masskara Festival (Bacolod City). The term “masskara” could very well refer to the ever-smiling masks worn by festival dancers and participants, signifying a happy disposition of the local inhabitants. The Masskara Festival, celebrated around the weekend nearest October 19, started in the 1980s to lift the spirit of the population from a serious of tragedies and to promote tourism. Masskara is actually a combination of “mass” (people) and “cara” (face), or a multitude of (happy) faces.
5. Ati-Atihan Festival (Aklan). This festival, which is the template of other festivals like the Sinulog, is also celebrated every January to honor the Santo Nino (Infant Jesus). The grand parade falls exactly on the same day as the Sinulog and tourists are torn whether to attend the Sinulog or the Ati-Atihan. The best way to do it is to visit both festivals on separate years. Festival participants are covered in black color to mimic the original inhabitants of the islands, the Aetas. Ati-Atihan means “to be like an Ati or Aeta”.
We also recommend the Feast of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo in Manila City) and the Moriones Festival (Marinduque), but we feel these feasts have not sufficiently escaped their religious origins. To be sure, there are other festivals like the Kadayawan Festival (Davao City). Let’s see if we’ll expand our list of festivals to visit in 2015.
Feel free to express your suggestions and opinions through the comment section below.