Showing posts with label Festivals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Festivals. Show all posts

Monday, September 20, 2010

Camarines Sur: Penafrañcia Festival 2010 marks the 300th year of devotion to Our Lady of Penafrañcia

The Penafrañcia Festival is arguably the largest Marian festival in the country gathering thousands of pilgrims from Bicol and all over the country to Naga, Camarines Sur to fulfill their devotion to Our Lady of Penafrañcia or Ina to the Bicolanos.

Penafrañcia Festival 2010 marks the tercentenary or 300th anniversary of the devotion to Our Lady of Penafrañcia which made the celebration bigger and more significant. It was in 1710 that Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias ordered the making of an image of Our Lady of Penafrañcia based on the original one in Spain.

While there are so many religious events and processions held to mark the Penafrañcia Festival, there are three major processions you should not miss. The first is the Translacion Procession where barefooted male voyadores and a sea of devotees ferry the image of Ina and the Divino Rostro from the Penafrañcia Shrine to the Naga Cathedral amid spirited chants of Viva la Virgen! A voyador is a person who helps carry the andas of the images. This four-hour procession is held (always on a Friday) nine days before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Penafrañcia which is celebrated on the third Sunday of September. The day begins with a Penitential Procession from the Penafrañcia Basilica to the Penafrañcia Shrine at 4 a.m. The Translacion Procession leaves the Shrine at about 9 a.m.

Another of the major processions are the three Penitential Dawn Processions which leave the Cathedral at 3:30 a.m. on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Penafrañcia. The images of Our Lady of Penafrañcia and the Divino Rostro are taken around Naga West, South Downtown and Naga North respectively. I got to attend the last of the Penitential Processions which was held on Saturday, September 18 of this year. I was surprised to see thousands of people up so early in the morning, a testament to the strong devotion of the Bicolanos to Ina.

The first to exit the Naga Cathedral door is the Divino Rostro. As the anda is brought out, devotees would chant Viva el Divino Rostro! This is followed by the anda of the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia which exits the Naga Cathedral amidst cheers of Viva la Virgen! As the procession leaves the church, the church bells are pealed.

Finally, the biggest of the three processions is the Fluvial Procession held the day before the Solemnity. The images of Our Lady of Penafrañcia and the Divino Rostro are returned from the Cathedral to the Basilica on a pagoda via the Naga River. Unfortunately, I missed this one since I had to fly back to Manila in the morning right after the Dawn Procession.

Aside from the religious events, there are civic and military events including a five-hour Military Parade participated in by CAT and ROTC units of over a hundred schools around Bicol which I will talk about in another entry. Experiencing first-hand the massiveness of the festival and fervor of the devotion made me realize the festival is worth returning to next year.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Pahiyas, Agawan and Mayohan, Quezon festivals for San Isidro Labrador

Quezon is known for the various festivals held in celebration of the feast of San Isidro Labrador. These are the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Agawan Festival in Sariaya and Mayohan Festival in Tayabas. We got to visit these three Quezon towns plus San Pablo, Laguna.

We visited the town of Sariaya first and marveled at their grand Art Deco mansions. Three of them were declared Heritage Houses by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, namely the Natalio Enriquez House, Rodriguez House and Gala-Rodriguez House.

The Sariaya Church and the different houses were all colorfully decorated with local produce and goodies for the agawan which would happen later in the day.

From Sariaya, we visited the Tayabas Basilica, a National Cultural Treasure. At about 3 p.m., a procession of the image of San Isidro Labrador makes its way around town. As the image passes by every house, suman or glutinous rice cakes, are hurled out the balconies and windows in the hundreds, causing a mad rush among the procession participants. The more you get, the more blessings for the family and the more suman to eat!

The Pahiyas Festival in Lucban is the most popular and no doubt, the most colorful of the three festivals. The procession of the image of San Isidro Labrador usually makes its way around town first thing in the morning at about 7:30 a.m.

Every year, the procession route changes. And only houses along the procession route are decorated. Usually, it takes about seven years before the procession passes by a house again. So that gives a household enough time to save resources and prepare for the colorful and ostentatious decorations that are an inherent part of the Pahiyas.

The afternoon is reserved for a lively parade that makes its way around town. But unfortunately, this parade has been invaded by not so subtle commercial advertising. Anyway, I'll talk about the delicious Southern Tagalog food we ate in another post.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hong Kong: Cheung Chau Bun Festival 長洲太平清醮

Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
I've been fascinated by the Cheung Chau Bun Festival 長洲太平清醮 ever since my first visit to Hong Kong in 1991. It was one of the festivals Hong Kong promoted in their brochures which I read intently after that trip. But I was too young to explore on my own then. Plus I had to coincide a trip with the festival if I wanted to see it since it happens only once a year, on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month.

So it was a pleasant surprise, after gathering brochures at the HK airport upon our arrival last week, that the Cheung Chau Bun Festival was the next day! There was another festival parade in the morning celebrating the Birthday of Tam Kung 譚公誕. The parade in Cheung Chau was right after lunch so I decided to visit both.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
After Shau Kei Wan, I rushed over to Central to catch the ferry to Cheung Chau from Central Pier 5. The ferry terminals are quite a walk from the MTR station. Anyway, when I got there, I was shocked to see literally thousands of people in line.

What the heck! I was already there. And I didn't know when I would have the chance to visit again on the festival day. So I joined the line which was moving inch by inch. It was a mad rush of visitors to Cheung Chau! That's why the tourist information desk advised me to be in Cheung Chau before 11 a.m.

The fast craft takes about 30 minutes and costs HK$32.20 on public holidays. When I arrived in Cheung Chau, the parade-in-the-air was making its way down the main road. But with so many people, it was really difficult to navigate the parade route or even take decent photos for that matter.

It is said that the festival traces its origins to a plague on the island hundreds of years ago. The villagers of Cheung Chau disguised themselves as deities to scare away the evil spirits responsible for the plague.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
Aside from the staple lion dances and dragon dances we see in many Chinese celebrations, this parade is called parade-in-the-air because of the heavily made up children dressed as mythological figures and modern Chinese heroes who are suspended above the crowd on the tips of swords, paper fans and other items. It's actually an illusion because the children are secured by steel frames, an intricate system of rod and wires underneath their clothing, making it appear that they are gliding through the air. It is said that parents consider it a great honor for their kids to be part of the parade.

Kung fu club members, Taoist priests in traditional attire and ensembles with gongs, drums and other musical instruments join the parade that makes its way around the narrow streets of the island.

Of course, my visit would not be complete if I did not see the bun towers. So I walked towards the Pak Tai Temple where the bun mountains or bun towers were located. There are three giant 60-feet bamboo towers covered with buns. One of the events of the festival is the bun-snatching race at midnight. Young men would race up the towers and get as many buns as they could. The higher the buns, the better fortune for the participant's family.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
After an accident in 1978 where one of the bun towers collapsed, the government stopped the bun-snatching tradition. It was reintroduced in 2005 with safety measures put into place including a separate steel bun mountain structure and mountain-climbing equipment for the 12 well-trained athletes selected for the activity.

Anyway, I didn't stay too long since I knew that the crowd would all rush back to Central after the parade. So I wiggled my way back to the ferry terminal. I was in line for quite a while. As I boarded the ferry, I could see the line outside the building stretch back really far. Thank God I decided to leave early or I would have missed catching up with my family in Hong Kong Disneyland.

If you do plan to visit the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, here are some tips:
1. With the mammoth crowd that visits Cheung Chau during the festival, it's best to join a guided tour since they take the group on a private boat (so no lines at the ferry terminal) and you get to watch the parade at the official grandstand. Contact the Hong Kong Tourism Board to inquire about the tours. It's not cheap at HK$640 (2010 tour fee). But you basically pay for comfort and convenience.
2. If you want to explore on your own and have time and funds to spare, then book a stay for a night or two in Cheung Chau. At least you also get to witness the bun-snatching competition at midnight and don't join the crowds on the ferry.
3. But if you're on a tight budget or schedule, just make sure you're in Cheung Chau as early as possible (before lunch) to avoid the crowds. It's a good thing the Hong Kong Tourism Board prepares a Hong Kong Cultural Celebrations Activities Guide which lists down the schedule of events and activities of the various festivals held in May.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hong Kong: Birthday of Tam Kung Festival 譚公誕 at Shau Kei Wan

Speaking of festivals, I was lucky that three major Hong Kong festivals coincided with our trip. The Cheung Chau Bun Festival 長洲太平清醮, Birthday of Lord Buddha 佛誕, and the Birthday of Tam Kung 譚公誕 all fall on the same day, the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, which was May 21 this year. I was able to visit two of them.

While my family was making their way to Hong Kong Disneyland, I took the MTR to Shau Kei Wan, where the Tam Kung Temple is located, to watch the procession that celebrates the Birthday of Tam Kung 譚公誕.

Tam Kung is a very respected deity among the fishermen and boat people of Hong Kong. He is associated with safety at sea. He was said to have blessed seafarers during the Yuan Dynasty and was known for his weather forecasting and curing diseases.

The procession to the temple, which lasts from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, includes people dressed as gods in Chinese fairy tales, drums and gongs, lion, unicorn and dragon dances, food offerings and fa pau (or paper floral shrines).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ilocos Sur: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur (Day 3)

Tres de Mayo is a centuries-old fiesta of Vigan citizens to honor the Santo Cristo Milagroso or Apo Lakay. It is held annually every third of May. The day starts with a 6 a.m. Mass at the Simbaan a Bassit or Vigan's Cemetery Chapel.

I wasn't able to see the Mass last year. So I made sure to get up early this year to attend Mass which is celebrated by the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia on a makeshift altar built under a canopy of fruits and other produce in front of the chapel. While Mass was going on, I also visited the Santo Cristo Milagroso inside the chapel.

Since it was still too early for breakfast at the hotel, I decided to walk around Vigan while there were still no people. It's best to take shots of the architecture early in the morning when Vigan's streets are deserted.

After breakfast, our group visited the ancestral home of Engr. Ric Favis of UNESCO and the Syquia Mansion before proceeding to Hidden Garden Restaurant for an Ilocano lunch.

Crisologo Street is again the focal point for the afternoon activities. Vigan's Chinese roots become evident as a lion dance troupe makes its way around the various shops owned by Chinese-Filipinos. But there are no fire crackers though which always accompanies this practice. Later in the afternoon, we watched the Kalesa Parade.

During the day, notice the ramadas or makeshift canopies decorated with produce that are constructed around the city as part of Tres de Mayo. The ramadas become focal points for each neighborhood during the afternoon since traditional Filipino games are organized for kids and kids at heart under these canopies.

I walked to one of the ramadas while our group was having merienda at Abuelita's Restaurant. After the heavy snack composed of miki, bibingka and empanada. We drove back to Manila which took us about 9  hours with a dinner stop of course.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Ilocos Norte & Ilocos Sur: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan (Day 2)

The drive from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte to Vigan, Ilocos Sur was an interesting one too. After breakfast and checking-out from the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Mairaira Cove (Blue Lagoon), we drove down to Laoag to catch lunch at Saramsam Restaurant.

On the way, we made sure to stop at the Pasuquin Bakery to taste their really delicious soft biscocho bread. That stop is well worth it. The drive to Laoag is about 2 and a half hours and we were there just in time for lunch.

Saramsam Restaurant is also know for its Ilocano pizzas, particularly the Poque-Poque Pizza which has an eggplant and egg-based Ilocano dish for toppings. Also try out the Longaniza Pizza and their Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Pizza. We also had local dishes that included igado, insarabsab and blanched vegetables with KBL (kamatis, bagoong and lasuna). Dessert was malunggay sherbet with kalamansi which was surprisingly good.

After Laoag, we went straight to Vigan which was another two hours away. We wanted to catch the street dance parade of the Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival so we made sure to leave Laoag as soon as we could reach Vigan before the parade started at 4 p.m.

As soon as we arrived, we checked-in at My Vigan Home, a by-reservations only private guest house. And we were off to Crisologo Street to enjoy the street dancing at the festival.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Quezon: Book now for the Ultimate Pahiyas and Quezon Culinary & Heritage tour!

Have you been to Quezon and its San Isidro Labrador festivals every May 15? It's fiesta time this month of May and what better way to drink, eat and be merry as we head south to explore charming Quezon province. It's the best time of the year as we join in the revelry and celebrate the feast of San Isidro de Labrador!

First off to Sariaya, a charming little town known for its gracious colonial-period homes. We'll have breakfast, take a stroll and admire these treasures as we revel in its traditional Agawan Festival.

Then, it's off to Lucban and the Pahiyas Festival where we'll feast our eyes over a smorgasbord of food, music, artistry and local color in one of country's most spectacular fiestas!

Finally, on to San Pablo, Laguna to dine at a restored period home, a great way to cap-off our Quezon experience!

You will discover the best way to experience the San Isidro Labrador festivals: Pahiyas in Lucban and Agawan in Sariaya, the charming heritage town of Sariaya as well as a lovely dinner at the artsy Sulyap Gallery Cafe and anything and everything about Quezon's Tagalog heritage with the best guide in town, Tina Decal!

Tour Fee is Php4,800 per person inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner, all entrance fees and demonstrations, tourist bus transportation, the best personal guide in Quezon (Tina Decal), plus surprises along the way.

For bookings, e-mail or contact my tokayo, Ivan ManDy (0917) 3291622.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pampanga: Easter Sunday salubong, pusu-puso and sagalas of Santo Tomas

On Easter Sunday, the neighboring towns of Santo Tomas and Minalin are the center of activities in Pampanga. Aside from being Easter Sunday, it's also the town fiesta of Santo Tomas. The town celebrates its fiesta on Easter Sunday rather than on the July 3 feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle.

The night before, a rigodon de honor used to be performed at the Sabado de Gloria Ball called the Thomasian. I remember dancing the rigodon in the 2002 Sabado de Gloria Ball. Sadly, they stopped doing it about two years ago because no one was willing to be hermano and hermana mayor due to the costs that accompany it. While it was still being held, Thomasian was the longest continuously organized rigodon de honor in Pampanga. The oldest surviving rigodon tradition in Pampanga, the El Circulo Fernandino, was not held from 1987 to 1996.

According to Robby Tantingco of the Center for Kapampangan Studies, "The most elaborate salubong are held in front of the churches of Sto. Tomas and Minalin. Shortly before the break of dawn, the brass band plays and an all-girls' choir sing Alleluia as the two santos are positioned face to face. The angel does not immediately appear; instead, she is hidden inside a pusu-pusu (heart-shaped giant banana flower) which opens in five stages, one layer of petals at a time. Each opening is accompanied by the band playing and choir singing which prolongs the whole ceremony. After the salubung (also called pusu-pusuan in these parts), the people go inside the church for the Easter Mass.

"In Sto. Tomas, another quaint tradition follows after the Mass: a group of well-dressed girls and the partners dance and sing, and throw petals on the path of the carroza bearing the statue of the Risen Christ accompanied by a violin. This ritual is called Sagalas."

Later at noon, the Pakbung Hudas festivities are held at the church patio. I missed the Salubong or Pusu-pusuan, as well as the Sagalas. But I just had to write about it to complete this series on Pampanga Holy Week practices. Thank you to the Center for Kapampangan Studies for the video screencaps.

Pampanga: Santo Entierro carrozas and Good Friday processions of Pampanga

Every Good Friday, the Santo Entierro or Apung Mamacalulu are brought out in grand carrozas called calandras for the Good Friday procession. Here are photos of some of the Santo Entierro carrozas or calandras of Pampanga. It's a work in progress so I'll be adding photos and descriptions as I receive them. Thanks to the Center for Kapampangan Studies for providing some of the photos including this one of the Guagua carroza being prepared for the Good Friday procession.

ANGELES: Alex Castro shares that Angeles has its own Apung Mamacalulu or Santo Entierro owned by the Dayrit clan. This image figured in a controversial 1929 Good Friday procession that ended in its kidnapping. It took a Supreme Court decision to resolve the issue of its ownership.

ARAYAT: According to Toto Gonzalez, the Arayat Good Friday procession is lovely and beguiling with antique candlelit carrozas and old, archaic-sounding Kapampangan religious music. A burol or wake for the Santo Entierro commences after the procession at the Spanish colonial era chapel of the Medina-Samia-Santos family a few meters from the church. This last until 11:30 p.m.

BACOLOR: The Bacolor Santo Entierro is owned by the Joven-de Leon clan. It most probably had belonged to Don Juan Joven and Dona Geronima Suares. It was buried by lahar in 1995 and was dug up the same year. It was kept until 2004 when it was restored by Tom Joven who is now the caretaker of the image.

GUAGUA: The Guagua Santo Entierro in the main photo is owned by the Infante-Velez clan.

MABALACAT: The Apung Mamacalulu of Mabalacat has its own chapel beside the Mabalacat Elementary School. It is believed that the image originated from Mexico. It belonged to Doña Vicenta Dizon who was married to Don Juan Rivera. The couple were childless so the calandra was passed on to the Rivera-Serrano family. Preparing the image for the procession is a community affair, done during the morning of Holy Thursday. The carroza is ornamented by mother of pearl flowers and silver symbols of the passion of Christ.

SAN FERNANDO: Above is the Santo Entierro of San Fernando. This is a fairly recent postwar calandra.

SANTA RITA: The Santa Rita Santo Entierro is owned by the Miranda-Maglalang clan.

SASMUAN: The Sasmuan Santo Entierro is owned by the Mercado family.

According to Toto Gonzalez, the five most beautiful calandras of the Santo Entierro in Pampanga are Santa Rita (Miranda-Maglalang), Arayat (Medina-Samia-Santos), Sasmuan (Mercado), Guagua (Infante-Velez), and in recent years, with all the improvements made by the formidable Tom Joven, that of Bacolor (Joven-de Leon). He adds that also beautiful, although simple, are the mid-1800s calandras of San Luis, Minalin, Santa Ana, Mexico, Mabalacat, Candaba, and Apalit. Those of Lubao, Magalang, Angeles date back to the turn of the 20th century. The calandras of San Fernando and Macabebe are fairly recent. He hasn't seen those of Masantol, Porac, and Floridablanca though and we look forward to his reviews. While many of the calandras date from the 1800s, many of the images of the Santo Entierro are from the 1700s.

Toto further notes that the only existing calandras in other provinces that can compare with those of Pampanga are: Vigan, Ilocos Sur; Lingayen, Pangasinan; Baliuag, Malolos and Barasoain, Bulacan; San Pablo (originally from Santa Cruz, Manila), Binan, Pila, Paete, and Pakil, Laguna; Lipa, Batangas; Carcar, Cebu; Molo, Iloilo City; Bacolod and Talisay, Negros Occidental and Mambajao, Camiguin.

If you have photos or stories of other Santo Entierro carrozas in Pampanga, please feel free to share them at

Monday, April 05, 2010

Pampanga: Pasyon Serenata in (Maligaya) San Basilio, Santa Rita, Pampanga

After the Good Friday processions, we returned to San Basilio, Sta. Rita, Pampanga to listen to the Pasyon Serenata. But this time, we proceeded to Maligaya Street which is also in San Basilio, which has its own Pasyon Serenata.

As I mentioned previously, the Pasyon Serenata is a variant of the pabasa, with two sets of accompanying singers and marching bands playing alternately in what is called a sagutan. It's held in the evenings (usually 8 p.m. to 12 midnight) of Holy Thursday and Good Friday in two locations in Barangay San Basilio, Sta. Rita, Pampanga. The previous night, we watched the one beside the San Basilio Chapel.

Parking and maneuvering is a bit difficult in Maligaya since the street is very narrow. Anyway, we sat down for quite a bit but suddenly felt the exhaustion from all the traveling. So we called it a night quite early.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Pampanga: Easter Sunday Pakbung Hudas tradition in Minalin & Santo Tomas, Pampanga

Firecrackers on Easter Sunday! In the towns of Minalin and Sto. Tomas, the Pakbung Hudas (explosion of Judas) tradition is still held every Easter Sunday. We drove to Minalin to catch the Pakbung Hudas festivities at 9:30 a.m. and proceeded to Sto. Tomas to catch theirs at 12 noon.

Pakbung Hudas is an event wherein an effigy of Judas Iscariot, stuffed with firecrackers, is lit up in front of the church patio for a big bang to start the Easter Season. The firecrackers are so positioned so that the effigy moves horizontally counter-clockwise then clockwise, then vertically clockwise and counter-clockwise before finally exploding.

For some reason, they want to change the name to Pakbung Kasalanan or Pakbung Satanas with the effigy representing sin or  in particular, the seven deadly sins. But I think changing the name will change the story behind the tradition. You could still say Pakbung Hudas and explain that the effigy represents sin. Oh well!

I liked the Judas effigy in Minalin which was very colorful and folksy. The one in Sto. Tomas wasn't decorated though.

Since Easter Sunday is also the town fiesta of Santo Tomas, there are a lot of activities during the day. After the Easter Mass in the morning, sagalas paraded around town. They also had a palaro for the children. The agawan buko was quite intense!

Anyway, it took them quite a while to set-up the effigy which they lit up at about 12:30 p.m. Indeed they celebrate Easter in Pampanga with a big bang!
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