Filipinos just love to party! The sheer number of festivals throughout the country is just too many to fit in a calendar.
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There is the customary type, and some are weird, amusing, macabre, and captivating that will fascinate your snooping mind. Different strokes for different folks. I prepared a list of the non-traditional revelries that will astonish you, myself included.
Taong Putik Festival
Every 24th of June, scurry over to Aliaga, Nueva Ecija when locals transform themselves into “Taong Putik” (mud people), literally. Participants soak their bodies with mud and cover these with vines and banana leaves before joining the parade. After the parade, the partakers will bathe, believing that it is a way of cleansing their lives.
The common urban legend is that during World War II, Japanese soldiers were to slay all men of the village in retaliation for the death of 13 of theirs. Just as the execution was about to take place, it rained so hard that the Japanese took this as an ill-omen sign and set the captives free. The villagers credited this miracle to St. John the Baptist and revered him by plunging in the mud.
Everyone is afraid of the aswang (witch), but not the townsfolk from Roxas City, Capiz. They want to shake off the negative stigma. Every October 29 and 30, the horrifying, deadly but beautiful night creatures — tikbalang, manananggal, mangkukulam, kapre, and more cuties — parade in eye-popping costumes in all their magnificence.
The mere mention of Capiz sends chills to the bones. Filipinos believe that the place is home to mythical creatures that feast on human flesh and blood. Locals want to remove this implication and in 2004 organized the event to showcase Capiz as a tourist destination. Part of the annual Aswang Festival was a trade fair, showcasing local handicrafts, food and trade. There were also educational symposia to teach locals and guests Capiz history and the possible origins of its aswang myth.
It proved to be a success with more and more tourists coming in for the festival. However, the religious sector protested against it, asserting that the celebration was a form of devil worship. And so, the festival was stopped after 3 years.
Experience “Wild Wild West” in the Philippines! I thought this was only in the U.S.A. Scoot over to Masbate City, Masbate every April 16 and experience western life for 5 days.
Participants and onlookers don their western get-up, long-sleeved checkered shirts, cowboy hats, and boots. The festival portrays the western ethnicity and features the richness of the Masbateño culture.
Witness cattle wrestling, bullwhipping, bronco riding, cattle parades, bull riding, barn dancing, livestock shows and be amazed. The likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid will surely feel at home.
Home to vast cattle ranches, Masbate boasts of a long history that dates back to 1569 when its island was explored by Spanish captain, Luis Enriquez de Guzman.
In 1993, Masbateños started the annual Rodeo to lure visitors into experiencing Masbate’s country ranch lifestyle and best-kept touristic wonders.
Every May 30, the senior locals of Barangay Olango San Vicente, Olango Island in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu celebrate this crazy event to honor the town’s patron saint, San Vicente Ferrer. The festivity symbolizes the confusion of the faithful, illustrating their struggles in life.
And so the people show up to the festival in all oddities — men are cross-dressed in outrageous outfits complete with make-up, people sporting phallic symbols, animal fights like duck versus cat and other obscene rituals. The acts are said to be unexplainable experiences by the locals and a way of depicting God’s wrath.
This festival is for adults ONLY. Parents are not advice to tag along their children.
Crazy it is, but the practice has long been an Olango tradition, said to have started in the late 1800s. It stopped for five years in the 1970s when the then-parish priest viewed it as disrespect to the saint. But the next parish priest revived the festival, acknowledging its deeper meaning for the locals.