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CEBU: Festivals That You Should Visit

Sinulog Festival

The sights and sounds are very enticing yet subtly luring you in and discover the best of what the Queen City of the South can offer. Its a promise that most travelers and tourists are drawn to.

Festivals Anytime of the Year

Cebu never runs out of festivals. Whether you are in the urban jungle or in the hinterlands and islands in the province, from North to the South, from the East to the West, there surely one celebration that you wouldn’t dare miss.

Panagtagbo: Every January before Sinulog Festival

Panagtagbo Festival, Mandaue. Image courtesy of tenminutes.ph

Translacion (Gathering of the Holy Family), coincidentally the patrons of Cebu are Santo Niño and Birhen sa Guadelupe, Saint Joseph in Mandaue City. This is celebrated every January when the three statues meet in the national shrine of Saint Joseph often called the Translacion where a fluvial procession follows. There are singing and dancing competitions and street dancing that happen during the Bibingkahan in honor of the Sto. Niño.

Sinulog Festival:

Sinulog Festival

Every 3rd Sunday of January, Cebu has been celebrating the Sinulog Festival, dubbed as the country’s biggest and grandest festival. What began as a revival of an old dance brought government, business establishments, schools, pilgrims, artists and private individual together like never before. The attempt to enhance cultural awareness gave the Cebuanos a shared passion, a collective identity. In the end the Sinulog did give Cebu a culture. And a name. Pit Senyor!

Tagbo Festival: [19th of January (Poro, Camotes Island)]

Tagbo Festival. Image courtesy of www.cebu-tourism.techcellar.net

It is celebrated every January in honor of patron Sto. Niño de Poro. Beloved memoir of a living past, Tagbo is the cornerstone from which this great municipality has sprung. Rich in cultural heritage and deep in spiritual values, Tagbo is a very significant event precluding the birth of a town very dear to the hearts of her sons and daughters.

Silmugi Festival: [20th of January (Borbon)]

Silmugi Festival. Image courtesy of worldreviews.361db.com

“Silmugi” is an old name of the town of Borbon and the festival is in honor of its patron saint St. Sebastian the Martyr for the bountiful harvest. The street dancing which is one of the highlights is participated in by the different barangays. “Simulgi” was name after the enchanting and enthralling river which served as the nearest route for the devout Catholics attending mass in St. Sebastian Parish. This also served as the main gateway of the inhabitants in their business trades with the coastal baranggays surrounding it.

Bodbod Kabog Festival: [10th Of February (Catmon)]

Budbod Kabog Festival. Image courtesy of capitol.tugkaran.com

The town of Catmon is famous for its tasty “bodbod” and thus is the focus of the festival.  The festival celebrates the process of making a delicacy from the tiny seeds of a cereal variety called millet as a major socio-cultural event during the feast of St. William of Aquitaña every Feb. 10. The street dancing competition is participated by the different barangays has its dance movements, the movement of making the bodbod with the costumes in bodbod concept.

Kabayo Festival: [February – Movable (Mandaue City)]

Kabayo Festival. Image courtesy of rrhcssr.wordpress.com

Organized by the Cebu Equine Owners, Breeders and Sportsmen Association (CEOBSA), the Kabayo festival is supported by the DOT. The festival promotes sports tourism, ecotourism and agri-industrial tourism awareness in the country. The highlights include the parade of horses, horse racing competition and the best decorated “tartanillas” or horse drawn carriages and features a bazaar and flea market.

Sarok Festival: [14th of February (Consolacion)]

Sarok Festival. Image courtesy of capitol.tugkaran.com

Valentine’s Day for the people of Consolacion is celebrated with more than just love. They had a doubly eventful date as the town gathered to celebrate their 91st founding anniversary, dubbed as “Adlaw sa Consolacion” with the staging of the Sarok Festival.

Named after a kind of hat made from bamboo strips and dried banana leaves used by locals and commonly used by farmers to protect themselves from the rain and heat of the sun, sarok-making is also the main livelihood of Brgy. Tolotolo.

Soli-Soli Festival: [18th March (San Francisco, Camotes Island)]

Soli-Soli Festival. Image courtesy of gallery.sunstar.com.ph

Named after the Soli-Soli plant which abounds around Lake Danao, used for mat weaving, bags, hats and other handicrafts. Soli-Soli features freestyle street dancing competition using soli-soli plant as its dominant material. The festival adds color to the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Tostado Festival: [3rd Sunday of April (Santander)]

Tostado Festival. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com

The festival focuses on the town’s famous delicacy, the “tostado”. A locally made cookie, researches failed to establish as to when and how or from whom the baking of these cookies originated. For the residents of Santander, these cookies made of sugar, flour, eggs, baking soda and shortening have been sold in their place for as long as they can remember. The street dancing which is the highlight of the festivity uses the different movements of making tostado in the dance participated in by the different barangays.

Haladaya Festival: [Easter Sunday (Daan Bantayan)]

Haladaya Festival. Image courtesy of cebudailynews.wordpress.com

Haladaya Festival is honor to the patron saint of Daanbantayan, St. Rose of Lima. Before in 1834, Daanbantayan was so-called “Kandaya” a name from the leader of first malayan settlers, si “Datu Daya”. This is why people of Daanbantayan will celebrate the Haladaya Festival because from the word of “Haladaya” which means “Halad Kang Datu Daya!” They will offer a dance and thanksgiving of Datu Daya for defending the town from harassment and attacks from the Moro pirates and making the Daanbantayan Cebu a progressive town. Highlights include the fluvial parade where patron saints of the different barangays will be placed in decorated bancas or motorized outrigger boats and paraded in the sea.

Kabanhawan Festival: [Easter Sunday (Minglanilla)]

Kabanhawan Festival. Image courtesy of krizbitzblog.wordpress.com

Showcases the “Sugat” in which the town is known for many years since. The street dancing depicts the joy felt by the believers when Christ is resurrected. The celebration is grander since it will be followed by a day long games and entertainment that highlights the endowment of Minglanilla’s history, trade and arts.

Bahug-bahug sa Mactan or Kadaugan sa Mactan: [22nd – 27th of April (Lapu-Lapu City)]

Kadaugan sa Mactan. Image courtesy of 12345cebufestivals.blogspot.com

A weeklong commemoration of the historic battle of Mactan between the Spanish Conquestador Fernando Magallanes and Mactan Chieftain Lapu-Lapu. The 3 ships of Magellan are represented by the bancas or canoes and they are made to lead a river procession up to the beach. This act is followed by the re-enactment of the planting of the Magellan’s Cross leading to the final act of Lapu-Lapu’s victory. Kadaugan sa Mactan literally implies about the ‘Victory of Mactan’. It was also called Bahugbahug sa Mactan or ‘Melee at Mactan’ when it was initially staged in 1981. The exact time of the commencement of the festival mostly depends on the tidal conditions and otherwise it is known to begin at around 8 in the early morning hours. This festival is mostly celebrated on the 27th of April with much grandeur and pageantry. This festival grants the Cebuano people a good opportunity to re-visit the days of Mactan Battle between Magellan and Lapu-Lapu and also to celebrate their history and events.

Mantawi Festival: [7th of May (Mandaue City)]

Mantawi Festival. Image courtesy of www.gocebu.travel

The festival is a celebration of Mandaue’s rich cultural and historical heritage and its importance today as a commercial and industrial center in Cebu. Local historians say that the name Mantawi is a species of indigenous vine or tree that abundantly grew in a cove in the shores of Cebu when the explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521. The Spaniards eventually built a settlement on the site of the cove that later became the village of Tipolo, which today is one of the barangays in Mandaue. Tipolo is the location of the first dry-docking facility in the country that serviced the galleons that carried the Philippines’ trade with other countries during the Galleon Trade from the 16th century to the early 19th century. A showcase of the city’s historical heritage and identity promoting the city as an industrial and tourist hub, that involves the Spanish regime through street dancing, dioramas, floats, food festival, trade fair and sports event.

Tartanilla Festival: [12th of June (Cebu City)]

Tartanilla Festival. Image courtesy of www.y101fm.com

The Tartanilla Festival is Cebu City’s way of preserving the tartanilla (horse-drawn carriage) heritage by reviving the oldest mode of transportation to ply some of the city’s streets. The festival coincides with the city’s celebration of the country’s Independence Day starting from June 1 to 12. gaily decorated tartanillas driven by kutseros ply the streets of some of the city’s barangays and compete for several awards.

Camotes Cassava Festival: [2nd week of June (Tudela, Camotes Island)]

Camotes Cassava Festival. Image courtesy of www.gocebu.travel

The sweet potato, known in the Filipino vernacular as camote, is the focus of a Cebu festival known as the Camotes Cassava festival. The town of Tudela celebrates the sweet potato and cassava, a product derived from this delightful root crop, during this Cebu fiesta, holding cooking competitions, exhibits even a beauty pageant. A yearly celebration of a bountiful harvest. A time where farmers display various cassava-based products, share their varied technical experiences in producing and processing cassava products. Among the activities are the Best Booth Contest, Poster Making contest, Search for new cassava food products, cultural night and the search for Miss Camotes Tourism.

Palawod Festival: [29th of June (Bantayan, Bantayan Island)]

Palawod Festival. Image courtesy of www.gocebu.travel
Held every June 29, during the annual fiesta in honor of Sts. Peter & Paul, the Palawod Festival, has gained national and international acclaim.  It holds the singular honor of being the 3-time Grand Champion of the province-wide Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival of Festivals Competition. The street dancing and ritual showdown competitions are performed with the four basic steps:Sulo (Torch), Bugsay (Paddle),Silik (Fins) and Isda (Fish).  Touted as one of the most colorful and world-class festivals of Cebu, the Palawod depicts the unique fishing traditions of Bantayan.

Semana Santa sa Bantayan: [Holy Thursday and Good Friday (Bantayan, Bantayan Island)]

Semana Santa sa Bantayan. Image courtesy of www.retireinthephilippines.info

Also known as “Pasko sa Kasakit” Celebrated in Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The highlight of the event is the solemn foot procession on Maundy Thursday and  Good Friday when life-size images and icons are mounted on elaborately-decorated carrozas that depict various tableaus of the Passion of Christ.

Kinsan Festival: [17th of June (Aloguinsan)]

Kinsan Festival. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com

Named after Kinsan because it is a kind of fish that breeds in abundance in their municipal waters and where they got the name of their town. Aloguinsan is reportedly the name of the head of the kinsan fish. Kinsan Festival is the first-ever food, agriculture and cultural heritage festival in the southwestern part of Cebu. It promised to be a gastronomic experience of kinsan fish, which will be cooked in various recipes.

Kuyayang Festival: [June – Movable (Bogo City)]

Kuyayang Festival. Image courtesy of www.traveljournals.net

Kuyayang refers to the dance movements conveying courtship and love characterized by the Bagohanon’s cariñoso character. Kuyayang mardi gras as a cultural tourism festival manifests the cultural heritage of Bogo as a place and avenue for cultural conservancy program of the city.

Caballo Festival: [25th of July (Compostela)]

Caballo Festival. Image courtesy of www.snipcebu.com

A street dancing competition that honors the town’s patron saint, Señor Santiago de Apostol. Saint James was not a Spaniard. But he was buried in an ancient burial ground in Spain after being beheaded by the Roman emperor Herod of Agrippa. Centuries passed and the tomb became forgotten until an old hermit named Pelagio, guided by a bright star, found the Saint’s tomb in a field. Thus the name Compostela, coined from the words “campo” or field and “stella” or star. A basilica was erected in that place. This is northwest of Spain. The battle of Clavejo in 844 AD immortalized the icon as a horse rider when, allegedly, Saint James, mounted on a white horse, routed the Moors.

History retells of a war between Christians and Muslims where the townsfolk saw and was saved by a miraculous apparition of a man riding a horse and later became known as the town’s patron saint.

Dinagat “Bakasi” festival: [2nd week of August (Cordova)]

Dinagat “Bakasi” festival. Image courtesy of gallery.sunstar.com.ph

It is a unique reinvention of the Dinagat Festival. The exotic eel locally known as “bakasi” is peculiar and abundant in Cordova. The dance replicates the gliding movement of the bakasi. The Dinagat Festival was formerly known as Bakasi Festival. The annual festival was started last August 14, 1999. Showcasing the livelihood and fishing culture of the Cordovanhons which is abundant of rich marine resources and pride for Cordova eel of Bakasi.

Bonga festival: [9th of August (Sibonga)]

Bonga festival. Image courtesy of geographicallychallenged.wordpress.com

Celebrated in honor of the town’s patron saint, Our Lady of Pilar and Santa Filomena. Among its highlights is the street dancing and ritual/showdown competition. “Bunga” is a Cebuano word which means fruit in English. In the past, when Spaniards tried to conquer Sibonga, the townspeople traded bonga, a betel fruit, with the invaders to appease them. According to legend, when the Spaniards asked for the name of their town, the natives thought they were asking about the betel fruit so they said bonga, and so the Spaniards recorded Sibonga as the name of the place. This festival is a thanksgiving for all the blessings and graces the Sibongahalnons have received for the abundant fruits found in their town.

Siloy Festival: [Last Saturday of August (Alcoy)]

Siloy Festival. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com

The festival promotes the Mag-abo forest with its famous Black Shama or Siloy, the town’s scenic white sand beaches and dive spots and in honor of the town’s patroness Saint Rose of Lima.

Kabuhian Festival: [3rd Sunday of September (Ronda)]

Kabuhian Festival. Image courtesy of www.cebu.gov.ph

Panginabuhi is a Cebuano word, which means livelihood. The festival featured the different sources of income in the town, such as woodcraft, agriculture, fishing, and native products. Celebrated during the town’s fiesta that features activities like trade fair, livelihood forum and a street dancing competition participated in by the different barangays with the dance movements depicting the various livelihood program of the town.

Karansa Festival: [3rd Sunday of September (Danao City)]

Karansa Festival. Image courtesy of danaocity.wordpress.com

The festival is honor to Sto. Thomas de Villanueva, the patron saint of Danao City.  The Karansa is a dance expressing one’s joy and happiness performed in four basic steps: The kiay, karag, kurug and kurahay that jibes with the Karansa official beat.   It was called Karansa because the people of Brgy. Suba in Danao City, known for Potters will gather and celebrate for a successful day of work through performing a dance. This the proud of Danawanons which remains its cultures and heritage of Danao City.

Pitlagong Festival: [26th of September (Argao)]

Pitlagong Festival. Image courtesy of pacificseduction.com

Argao’s tribute to the tradition of townsfolk faith, celebrations, food, work, livelihood, arts and crafts. Pitlagong is an instrument for cleaning the “sugong” which is a bamboo container for coconut wine of “tuba” which is very important to the taste and quality of the tuba. The dance vocabulary include the GAKA, which is a giant, leaping step which depicts the manananggot’s climbing of the coconut tree; the ABIS, which is the act of cutting the fruits’ stem with a sharp, hooked knife (or sanggot) so that the flower sap can be collected using the sugong; the LIMPYO, which is the act of cleaning the sugong using the pitlagong; the LUSAD, which depicts the act of going down from the top of the coconut tree; and finally the BAKTAS, which means “to walk”, signifying the women’s walking to the market to sell the products from the farm. Aside from the steps, the music and the instruments used for the Pitlagong Festival are also based on the mananaggot’s actions. This includes the sound of sharpening the sanggot, the trickle of the particles from the bulok (fruit stem) when cut, the music produced when cleaning the sugong with the pitlagong, and the buzz of the bees and other insects when attracted to the sweet sap of the coconut. The instruments karatung and lantaka imitate the music made when the pitlagong is used to clean the sugong and the sound of the sugong, respectively. Finally, the costumes used for the festival are products of the weaving industry of the town, called hablonans, which is also a very old livelihood of the Argawanons.

Sinanggiyaw Festival: [4th of October (Dumanjug)]

Sinanggiyaw Festival. Image courtesy of cebufestivals.blogspot.com

The “Sinanggiyaw Festival” has its meaning derived from the traditional Cebuano words. The “Sinanggi” which means fruitfulness of harvest and “Sayaw” means dance and also giving honor for Saint Francis of Assisi. Through street dancing and field presentation. Performers is focused on three aspects: planting, harvesting and thanksgiving.   During the event they have an exhibit of wood crafts, handy crafts, garments and other agricultural products. You will never miss in every event the singing contest that is being audience by many tourist, balikbayan and local officials of the town and its constituents. There are also group dance contest which has a theme about the natural resources of the municipality of Dumanjug.

Inasal (Halad) Festival: [14th – 15th of October (Talisay City)]

Inasal (Halad) Festival. Image courtesy of gallery.sunstar.com.ph

A showcase of Talisay City’s historical heritage and identity promoting the city as an aqua and tourist hub, through street dancing as a thanksgiving offering to the city’s patroness, Sta. Teresa de Avila. Sports fest, parade of the great personages as higantes, food festival featuring the famous “inasal” or lechon, Talisay’s roast pig being the undisputable best – golden brown, crackling crispy skin, tasty meat from secret stuffed herbs.

Kabkaban Festival : [24th-25th of November (Carcar City)]

Kabkaban Festival. Image courtesy of mindshoiba.wordpress.com

Kabkaban Festival is a ritual dance believed to be a way of driving away bad spirits. The term is taken from a kind of grass that is so abundant in the place. Through the inspiration of Val Sandiego, the Kbakaban celebration today is given much attention by the Carcaranons and visitors from other places. This annual activity is one of the highlights of Carcar’s fiesta in honor of its patroness, St. Catherine of Alexandria. Carcar is known for its locally-made shoes. Bolo making and basket weaving are also some of the prevalent cottage industries among the Carcaranons are also into wooden furniture manufacturing and antique reproduction.

Kawayan Festival: [2nd of December (Alegria)]

Kawayan Festival. Image courtesy of www.youtube.com

“Kawayan” is the vernacular term for bamboo and is the major source of livelihood/income in Alegria. The street dancing competition is based on the kawayan and is slated during the town’s fiesta in honor of Saint Francis Javier.

Sadsad Festival: [8th of December (Oslob)]

Sadsad Festival. Image courtesy of www.cebu-tourism.techcellar.net

Sadsad Festival was renamed to Sadsadayon Festival, where the locals in Oslob discovered 4 steps which are: “labyug”, “hagwa”, “agni”, and “pasalamat”. The Labyug steps means “sway”Hagwa steps means “to cheer up”, the Agni steps means “to invite”, and the Pasalamat steps means “thanksgiving” and Sadsadayon has it’s 2 root words called “Sadsad and dayon” which Sadsad, is a dance movement and Dayon came from the two visayan words, “dayon” and “padayon”. Dayon, is called welcome, and emphasizes their hospitality. Padayon, meaning to continue their traditions that rejoices their victory and retain their good values. The Sadsad festival is in honor of the town’s patron, Immaculate Concepcionwhich was celebrated every year.

Tag-anitohan Festival: [8th – 9th of December (Tudela, Camotes)]

Tag-anitohan Festival. Image courtesy of pacificseduction.com

The festival is a street dancing and ritual contest participated by the community. Tag-Anito is the worshipping ritual of early settlers to  spirits that protected them from harm and gave bountiful harvest or hunting expedition. This annual festivity showcases the unique ritual practices of their ancestors through street dancing competition. During this event, reenactment of the tribes’ rituals is performed with unique choreography. The highlight of this festival is a dance interpretation of town’s rescue from Moro invaders by a local hero known as Mandayang. According to town’s folklore, Mandayang used talisman to summon the help of spirits or anitos to defeat the enemies. It is history retold of the richness of the town’s origin from immortals to the time of Christianization until it was separated from its mother town of Poro in the year 1911.

Tagbo Poro Festival: January (Poro, Camotes)

Tagbo Poro Festival. Image courtesy of www.youtube.com

This festival is celebrated in the month of January and it is observed to honor the Santo Nino de Poro (the patron saint). Tagbo means to meet. History reveals that a battle ensued between two tribes living in Poro. A gentle giant by the name of Panganuron intervened and was able to stop the violence. Upon Panganuron’s suggestion, each tribe shall rise at the same time and shall proceed towards the direction of each until they are at a point where they converge. It is from this meeting point that the united people built a town now known as Poro.

Banig Festival: [3rd of July (Badian)]

Banig Festival. Image courtesy of rrhcssr.wordpress.com
Fiesta celebrated in Badian Cebu in the Month of July. A celebration of Badian’s annual fiesta, showcasing the Cebuano and Badianganon culture, tradition, delicacies and local products, especially its famous mats (banig).

Most of us must be familiar with the banig, that humble mat one spreads on a wooden or bamboo floor at night when one goes to sleep and in the morning is simply rolled to be unfurled again in the evening.

80 percent of the wives of farmers make a living from banig weaving. The process of making it is arduous beginning with the removal of thorns from the pandan plant (from which it is made), the dyeing and finally the weaving into the humble banig.

Afterthought

Anytime of the year, you can definitely bask into the sights and sounds of the festivities going around the island. One important thing to note, most of the festivals are in honor of the town’s patron saint, reminiscent of the Catholicism that the Spaniards had inculcated in their colonial days and it is interesting that most municipalities and towns retained such influence up to this very day. CEBU was blessed with not only abundance in natural resources but also with a warm and hospitable people.

Planning your next trip to Cebu? Let’s Talk! Bring the whole gang and your family for a unique and one of a kind Cebu experience! ?

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