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A shower of June festivals
Source: Manila Bulletin
Date: 2011-06-12
MANILA, Philippines -- Rainy days cannot beat the festive spirit of the Filipinos. Across the archipelago, we continue to celebrate a series of festivities throughout the month of June. St. John the Baptist leads other patron saints in festival commemoration mostly culminating with street-dancing parades and religious processions. There are ethnic and cultural celebrations which vary from thanksgiving for a good harvest and for their rich heritage, founding anniversary of cities or municipalities, as well as the celebrations of Philippine Independence and the birthday of our national hero.

“In spite of the rainy days, Filipinos find ways to celebrate joyously through these festivals. Moreover, the Philippines is a large archipelago of 7, 107 tropical islands spread out over a wide area such that when it rains in one or two regions the other 15 regions of the country are not affected and it’s still sunny and bright. So it’s on with the show of Philippine culture and traditions through these festivals,” says Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim.

Homage to patron saints

There are many places across the country that celebrate June 24 as the feast of one of the most important personages of the New Testament, St. John the Baptist. The City of San Juan with its Wattah! Wattah! San Juan Fiesta is one of the most popular festivals in Metro Manila. It is a week-long culminating event side by side with their celebration of cityhood on June 17. There are cultural shows, live concerts highlighted by a street-dancing competition and the traditional basaan, or the dousing of water on every passer-by, which they do the whole day with good humor believing that the practice brings good luck, well-being and happiness. This annual celebration also features a resplendent procession of the saint’s images on gaily-decorated carriages highlighted by joyful water-dousing.

The people of Pola, Oriental Mindoro reverently take St. John’s image from its niche in the church, carry it on a procession accompanied by a band, and set it on a beautifully decorated boat to the sea — where it was believed in a legend to have been found a long time ago. From the boat at sea to the procession on land where the image is carried around town, devotees in native costumes chant “Viva San Juan Bautista” while splashing water on one another.

In Calumpit town of Bulacan, the Libad Festival is celebrated on June 23 -24 where the sacred image of St. John the Baptist is borne on a colorfully decorated barge escorted by several native boats representing every village of Calumpit. It roves along the cool waters of the town’s river while townsfolk watch along the riverbanks and on the historical bridge dousing people with water as part of the fluvial procession.

Taong Putik Festival of Barangay Bibiclat in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija is an unusual practice by the devotees of their patron saint. In this festival, they completely cover their bodies with mud and adorn themselves with vines while roaming the streets asking from alms and offering them during a special church mass. It is an imitation of the act of John the Baptist who wore animal skins to deceive those who were after him. These devotees are called “nagsa–San Juan” by the Aliaga townsfolk. After the mass, they wash and dress up to partake of the feast offerings and merriment.

For those with hungry tummies, the people of Balayan in Batangas share their unique celebration of St. John’s feast day with the Parada ng mga Lechon, or the parade of roasted pigs. Hundreds of lechons, the favorite centerpiece of every Filipino fiesta buffet, are colorfully dressed up and paraded around the town before being served for all to enjoy.

Meanwhile, down south in Cagawait, Surigao del Sur, the Kaliguan Festival is also held in honor of the same patron highlighted by a beauty pageant in search of the Perlas ng Kaliguan as well as beach dancing. In Camiguin Island, the venues of San Juan Hibok-Hibok are the beaches of Cabua-an and Agohay where residents and visitors engage in water sports such as aqua palosebo, fluvial procession and the search for Miss Hibok-Hibokan beauty contest.

In Cavite City, the Regada Water Festival on June 24 has sprinklers installed at the city’s main streets so that revelers get a shower in public. Surprisingly, it is in honor of their patron saint, Nuestra Señora de Porta Vaga, and not St. John the Baptist. This festival showcases what is best and unique among Caviteños.

The feast of the Nuestra Señora de Piat in Cagayan Valley is celebrated during the Piat Sambali Festival every June 23-30 in Piat town which is 41 kilometers away from the province’s capital of Tuguegarao City. The Sambali is a war dance of ethnic groups which depicts their unity and conversion to Christianity through the intercession of Our Lady of Piat, whose miraculous image is enshrined at the Basilica Minore of Piat -- one of the major pilgrimage sites in the Philippines. This festival coincides with Aggao nac Cagayan on June 24-29 for the commemoration of the civil government of Cagayan which was established on June 29, 1583.

The feast of Saints Peter and Paul is celebrated in Apalit, Pampanga -- known as the Philippines’ culinary capital. On June 28, the grand fluvial procession of the antique ivory image of Apung Iru, as St. Peter the Apostle is reverently called by the Kapampangans, begins when the image, sitting on an elaborately decorated papal throne, is brought out of its shrine at Capalanagan to Sulipan escorted by several gaily-decorated native boats. The festival culminates on June 30 when it is returned to Capalangan via the wide Pampanga River. Along the way, thousands of devotees line up the riverbanks chanting and waving palm leaves and flowers. Others swim in the river to signify the cleansing of their sins and for more blessings.

Biniray Festival of Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro honors Saints Peter and Paul as a way of thanksgiving for blessings from the sea. From the early morning of June 29, a flotilla of intricately decorated native boats encircles Bulalacao Bay. Then, there is the street dancing by schoolchildren in indigenous costumes during the day to the procession with songs and dances by the townsfolk that ends at the church by twilight.

Folk Catholicism is manifested in these fiestas marked by pompous religious processions of gaily-decorated carriages or native boats, happy chants, fervent prayers, native songs and, strangely enough for some, by dousing revelers with water.

One of the finest festivals

The month of June is the best time to travel to Leyte for more excitement and experience one of the Philippines’ finest cultural festivals! In Tacloban City, the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival literally paints life with more color through variety shows, cultural presentations, talent competitions, musical concerts, beauty and photo contests, native sailboat regatta, tours and exhibits, marching bands, baratillos, tiangges or native flea markets, and a balikbayan nostalgia night.

[ Cavite City Wiki | Tuguegarao City Wiki ]

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