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Fieasta and Events 2 - Philippines Travel

The grotesque and the holy

As a largely Catholic country, religious celebrations no doubt make up more than half of all festivals with the many town fiestas usually centered on a patron saint. But people from all faiths can enjoy these events as most activities tend to have non-sectarian color like the traditional palo sebo in which a tall bamboo pole is greased up and boys attempt to climb up to reach for the prize money. And foreigners have been known to troop to the banks of Naga river in Bicol to witness the maddening crowd participating in the fluvial parade of Our Lady of Peñafrancia held every September.

Of course, the Semana Santa or Holy Week in April should not be forgotten. This weeklong commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, culminating in the Senaculo at Good Friday, is a major event in the country however somber. Probably the most grotesque event is the procession in Pampanga where men walk under the scorching sun as they lash their bare backs with whips as a symbolic gesture for the atonement of their sins.

The Moriones Festival in Marinduque province is an engaging re-enactment of the story of Longinus. The entire towns of Boac, Mogpog and Gasan are virtually converted into huge stages for the masked soldiers and colorfully garbed centurions. In Leyte, native carabaos and horses are rounded up in a traditional joust called Turugpo ha Camansi held during Black Saturdays.

Sizzling hot fun

Events of a secular nature also abound. With the summer season just around the corner, adventurers can expect some hard-hitting and knuckle-busting actions in major sports gatherings. On the second Sunday of March, outriggers race across the strait between Iloilo and Guimaras Island. Called Paraw Regatta, sailing enthusiasts and sports photographers witness colorful paraws “fly” above the waves.

As an archipelago, the country offers various watersports to local and foreign thrill-seekers. There’s the White Water River Rafting Competition at the rapids of Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao held every third week of March and the Siargo International Surfing Cup at Siargo Island held every October. If a visitor gets tired of the water, the mountains and the caves offer a different kind of high.

The Mt. Apo Eco-Challenge, organized by the Department of Tourism Region 12 and held every October 23, is a rock climbing event at the country’s tallest peak. At Cagayan, a Caving and Mountaineering Congress gathers trekkers every March to explore a few of the 300 cave systems in the area. In the windy fields of Cebu, kite flyers display their gigantic masterpieces at the biggest competition called Bears in Flight sponsored by a multinational milk company. Outdoor lovers won’t have difficulty looking for activities they can participate in during summer.

Click here to read Fiesta and Events Part 1

Let mother nature bloom - Events and Fiesta part 3

Ati-Atihan Fiesta in Kalibo, Aklan.

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