Luzon is the Philippines’ largest island and is composed of a lot of provinces, regions, cities, towns, cultures. As such, it is home to the country’s best festivals. Most of Luzon may be reached via land travel, unlike the Visayas, which is comprised of several islands and islets. If you live in Luzon, make it a point to see these six festivals in your lifetime. You can even do it in a year, as it seems that the best of Luzon festivals are spread out throughout the year and a major one is held almost every month.
The top six Luzon Festivals are:
1. The Pahiyas Festival
Held on May 15 of every year, the Pahiyas Festival is carried out to give thanks to San Isidro Labrador for the good harvest. It is one of the country’s oldest festivals tracing its origin way back to the 16th century. Back then, farmers bought food to the foot of Mt. Banahaw as a sign of Thanksgiving, but eventually this tradition — done in the hopes of having a good harvest year — was modified to make the church the central offering place.
The Pahiyas is commonly associated with Lucban, Quezon, but it is also celebrated in two other Quezon towns: Sariaya and Tayabas.
Why you should be there: Pahiyas is one of the most lively, most colorful and the most elaborate festival in Luzon. The whole place comes alive in color and music. Not to mention Lucban food that includes Lucban’s world famous longanisa, broas and kiping, the star of the pahiyas.
It used to be that February was Baguio City’s least favorable month, experiencing a doldrum in the number of visitor arrivals that usually peak in December (for the holiday season) and March or April (for the Lenten Season), on top of the summer months. However, with the introduction of the Panagbenga Festival, February became a time of pageantry, fun and merrymaking in Baguio City as the city becomes covered with the most beautiful flowers in the region.
Together with its blooms, Panagbenga also showcases the different cultures of its 11 tribes such as the Igorots and the Ibalois. In fact, the street dance of the Panagbenga features dances that are inspired by these cultural tribes.
Why you should be there: Simultaneously get a taste of Baguio’s tribal culture and the Tournament of Roses parade.
3. Fertility Dance at Obando
Couples who wish to have a child flock to Obando, Bulacan, and every May 17 to 19 to join the street dance in Honor of Santa Clara. The street dancing is said to be a prayer made by the couple. The belief stems from early practice and is said to be effective, as some have been miraculously blessed with an offspring soon after they joined the dancing.
Why you should be there: The benefits are obvious if you are childless, but for other people, the Obando dance is only one of the very few religious Luzon festivals that featured street dancing on a major part of the area.
4. Bangus Festival
The bangus, or milkfish, festival pays tribute to the City’s biggest industry and features various activities that center on the fish. From deboning to eating, from the longest to the heaviest and even to the most beautiful, each year attempts to put out a record with its bangus competitions.
Why you should be there: Aside from being there while the City or its citizens bag a possible Guinness World Record, the festival also features street dancing contests, the search for the Bangus Queen (a beauty pageant), fluvial parades, and a citywide sale for the shopaholics on a budget!
5. Pagoda sa Wawa
The river festival is held every July, when a barge carrying a huge decorated float is released along the Bocaue River. This is where dozens and possibly hundreds of people partake on good food and great music. The floating feast actually commemorates Wawa’s Holy Cross, which was first found floating on the Bocaue River.
Why you should be there: Experience a one-of-a-kind river feast. After a tragedy left dozens of people dead a few years ago, the Wawa festival has been closely scrutinized to ensure the safety of future pagoda riders.
6. Bacao Festival
If Dagupan has its Bangus Festival, Isabela’s folks hold their Bacao festival in honor of St. Joseph for their good harvest of corn. Like the Bangus Festival, activities are more provincial featuring street dancing, rodeos, float competitions, and other contests. Held for five days starting on March 15.
Why you should be there: The Bacao Festival parade’s carabao dressed in costumes, and has a contest for the best-dressed beast of burden.