From May 9 to 12, New York’s beaux-arts landmark Grand Central Terminal will provide the backdrop to showcase the 7,641 islands that make up the Philippines, which is promoting its vacation destinations, along with its captivating festivals!
Vibrant and full of life, year-round Philippine festivals, also known as fiestas, attract both domestic and international tourists for its grandeur, sense of community, and fun-filled atmosphere.
Although these festivals had religious origins, where predominantly Christian Filipinos honor their patron saints via festive communal events, these celebrations have become favorite attractions for their vibrant parades, pounding drums, electrifying dances, and elaborate costumes, which will surely bring out your most radiant smile.
When you get the chance to visit the Philippines, don’t miss these family-friendly festivals:
- Sinulog Festival
Held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, the Sinulog Festival honors the Child Jesus. It also commemorates the Filipinos’ pagan past and their conversion into Christianity.
A local version of the Mardi Gras, the festival highlights a grand street parade where the participants and the spectators shout “Pit Señor!” (Santo Niño) while they dance two steps forward and one step backward to the sinulog rhythm.
The Sinulog Festival is also known for its lively street parties held on the night of the Sunday parade.
- Moriones Festival
The Moriones Festival is a Holy Week tradition in West Marinduque, Philippines, where men and women wear Roman soldier brightly colored costumes and full head masks. They roam the streets to find Saint Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus Christ’s side with a spear. According to oral history, a drop of the crucified Christ’s blood miraculously healed Saint Longinus’ blind right eye, which made the latter convert into Christianity.
The participants would traditionally join the Moriones Festival as an act of penance or a way to thank for God’s outpouring of blessings.
- MassKara Festival
The MassKara (multitude of faces) Festival is held every fourth Sunday of October in Bacolod City since the early ‘80s, which was conceived to lift up the spirits of the locals who were facing a sugar industry crisis at that time. The use of the festive masks symbolizes the locals’ resilient attitude.
The festival spotlights the MassKara Queen beauty pageant, an assortment of food festivals, street dance competitions, and sports events, and the highly-anticipated electric MassKara night parade.
- Dinagyang Festival
Similar to the Sinulog Festival, the Dinagyang Festival, held every fourth Sunday of January in Iloilo City, also honors the Child Jesus. It also commemorates the arrival of early Malay settlers on the island of Panay.
“Dinagyang” is an Ilonggo word that means merry making or revelry.
- Pahiyas Festival
Attended by at least six million visitors, the Pahiyas Festival, held every 15th of May in Lucban, Quezon, honors the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro Labrador. First held in the 16th century, the Pahiyas Festival is an annual thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful rice harvest.
The locals’ homes are decorated with fresh fruits, vegetables, and edible rice kipings, dried, leaf-shaped rice paste in different colors, which the visitors can feast on for free!
Learn more about the Philippines and its endearing festivals at the Explore Islands Philippines expo at Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall.
Speakers from the Philippine Department of Tourism will talk on May 9 to 10 about various tourism initiatives including beautiful destinations, students and millennial tours, diving tourism, cuisine, retirement, as well as Philippine arts, culture, and history. The flagship carrier of the Philippines, Philippine Airlines, will also give a special presentation.
This special event will also celebrate arts and culture in the final two days, May 11 to 12, showcasing artists and artisans from the United States and the Philippines. The program will include presentations from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Parangal Dance Company, Philippine martial artists, weavers, artisans, and fashion designers.
The Explore Islands Philippines expo, made possible by JS Productions Inc., the Philippine Department of Tourism, and the Philippine Tourism Promotions Board, is free to the public and is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The venue can be easily accessed by the Pershing Square, 42nd Street entrance.
This article first appeared on BroadwayWorld.com.