Filipinos love to party. They will find any excuse to have a party. They celebrate births, marriages, saints’ days and everything else. The Spanish adapted traditional rituals by celebrating a saint’s birthday on dates formerly associated with animistic rituals.
You will see festivals in every ethnic group, as people get together for essentially spiritual events. Drama, excitement, food, music, and renewal of relationship are shared extensively. Fiestas range from large, organized, regional events to small barangay happenings. Activities usually center around the church, and from there, proceed into the community.
Here are some festivals for October:
Zamboanga Hermosa Festival – 2nd week in October, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Mindanao
Zamboanga City’s biggest fiesta commemorates the apparition of the Virgin at Fort Pilar and her miraculous intervention against enemy attacks. It celebrates the Virgin Mary towards whom the people of Zamboanga hold a special devotion as a unifying cultural and historical symbol of the land. There are fireworks, parades, a regatta, variety shows, games, a carnival and the Miss Zamboanga Pageant.
La Naval de Manila – 2nd Sunday in October, Quezon City
An evening candlelight procession from Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City along Quezon Boulevard honors Our Lady of the Holy Rosary to whose intercession is attributed a series of Spanish-Filipino naval victories over the Dutch in 1646.
Our Lady of La Naval de Manila housed at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City is one of the most historically significant objects in the Philippines. It was commissioned by the Spanish Governor General Don Luis Pérez Dasmariñas in 1593 who wanted a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary to which the public could pray. The reason it is so revered in the Philippines dated to some 60 years after its creation when the Dutch Republic attempted to conquer the country as part of a strategy to dominate the key trade routes in the region. Up against the superior Dutch forces, the Spanish and Filipino forces prayed to the statue for victory.
After five battles, they succeeded in repelling the foreign invaders. Believing that this almost miraculous victory was due to the intervention of the Virgin Mary, they walked barefoot to pray to the statue which was later named as the protector of the navy of Manila.
Masskara Festival – Weekend near the 19th of October in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental province, Negros.
No event of religious or cultural history, no saint or divine spirit serves to justify this big blowout. What we have here is fun for fun’s sake. In this city, on these days, it’s time to party, masked, costumed, and in the streets. Even if you don’t feel like dancing and singing, the pig-catching and pole-climbing competitions are musts. The contest for the best mask is also exciting. Of course it’s not as purposeless as it may appear: the festival is meant to lift people’s spirit and to attract tourists, who flock here to join the merrymaking and to buy the orchids and ornate handicrafts on sale.
A smiling mask is the symbol of this festival which was started in 1980 to reflect the people’s spirit in spite of hardships caused by the sugar industry’s decline. The festival also concides with the city’s charter day on the 19th of October. A spectacular street parade climaxes a weeklong celebration. It is Bacolod’s Mardi Gras-like festival.
Gigantes – also called the Feast of San Clemente – late October in Angono, Rizal province, Luzon
In honor of the town’s patron saint, San Clemente. The party center around papier mâché giants, colorfully garbed and painted, surrounded by much dancing, singing and feasting. These gigantes (giants) lead the procession, mounted on stilts or carried by members of the community. Puppets, trailed by dolls that portray the occupation of their creators, follow as part of the entourage. At the end of the procession are small puppet children and a brightly painted papier mâché bull, whose body sparks with fireworks.
Philippines Handbook – Carl Parkes
Traveler’s Philippines Companion – Kirsten Ellis