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For over two years under the COVID-19 pandemic, people had no choice but to prioritize health and safety over festivities; to put caution first before celebration. But this did little to dampen people’s spirits or desire for gaiety — instead the years spent isolated and apart only whetted our desire to come together and connect.
Finally having the opportunity to be together again in 2023, Rappler joined the rest of the world in its return to life unbridled by a deadly virus. This year, we joined Filipinos from across the Philippines in their celebrations of life and culture through each of their respective festivals.
Here are some of the highlights of Rappler’s 2023 coverage of Philippine festivals:
Sinulog festival in Cebu City, Cebu
Cebu City welcomed the year strong with its 2023 celebration of Sinulog festival as it recorded an over 600,000-strong crowd on Sunday, January 15. Held on the third Sunday of January, Sinulog is done in honor of Senior Santo Niño or the Holy Child — the Sto. Niño de Cebu. It has become known for its grandeur and vibrance that greets every visitor visiting the city to partake in the festivities. And despite some logistical road bumps that had to be hurdled through, this year’s celebration proved the dedication of Cebuanos and devotees alike.
Panagbenga festival in Baguio City, Benguet
In February 2023, Baguio City showed the world that its season of blooming had arrived. Floats made up of flowers in all shapes and sizes paraded the streets of the City of Pines. Following a three-year hiatus, the Panagbenga festival returned in full bloom with a grand float parade and a street dance competition marking the celebration’s zenith. The 2023 Panagbenga festival proved that time stolen away by the COVID-19 pandemic had only allowed the talent of Baguio’s artists to flower and flourish.
Pahiyas festival in Lucban, Quezon
Lucban’s local government played a huge role in ensuring that anyone who takes part in the province’s vibrant Pahiyas festival would feel like painting the town red. It upped its efforts in encouraging Lucbanins to participate in house decorating by making kiping or rice wafers, traditionally used as ornaments in dressing up Pahiyas houses, more affordable. In doing so, they provided more livelihood to townsfolk and gave visitors unforgettable sights to see with the colorfully decorated Pahiyas houses.
MassKara festival in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
Bacolod City marked another memorable MassKara festival with festivities that lasted throughout the month of October. Both local and international tourists flocked to the City of Smiles to experience the warmth and hospitality of Bacolodnons that was amplified by MassKara’s electric energy. From rows of stalls selling the city’s famous chicken inasal lining Lacson Street, to the most grandiose masks dancing to rhythmic music along this year’s parade route, the MassKara festival never fails to highlight Negrenses’ indomitable spirit and energy.
Giant Lantern festival in San Fernando, Pampanga
Pampanga’s giant lantern festival or the Ligligan Parul puts front and center the practice of lantern making and recognizes quality Kapampangan craftsmanship. More than that, it is also a fitting celebration to showcase the significance of Christmas to Filipinos. As giant lanterns illuminated San Fernando city, these told the story of how Filipinos cherish their faith and recognize that Christmas is a celebration of gratitude for the arrival of Christ.
As Rappler re-experienced these Philippine festivals throughout the past year, two things ring true: these celebrations are a testament to how much Filipinos value filial and religious traditions, and that the country has more world-class festivities to proudly share to the rest of the global community. — Rappler.com