A Whole Year of Banderitas

Aside from festivities with local flavors, the Philippine Islands have events too of international appeal which attracts foreigners. In Las Piñas City, there’s the Bamboo Organ Festival featuring international classical music performers utilizing the legendary bamboo organ of St. Joseph’s Parish Church.  In Masbate of the Bicol Province, the Rodeo Filipino can be likened to rodeo shows in the US Midwest or Latin America with activities like bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, lassoing on foot, casting down large cattle, and wood chopping.

A whole year of banderitas

Indeed, an imaginary string of banderitas (colorful trimmings) can be wrapped around the Philippines to represent a year-full of celebrations.  And we haven’t even talked about the festivals of the Christmas season yet.  You may have already known that they have the longest Christmas season in the world, starting as early as October and lasting until February. The spirit of the season could not be contained that you can hear people greeting “Merry Christmas” even during the grim-funny Halloween Night and the deliriously-funny All Souls’ Day.

For devoted Catholics though, the official Christmas season begins at the first Advent Sunday which marks the start of the Simbang Gabi.  Friends, lovers, families flock to churches to hear the late night or early morning mass before enjoying hot chocolate and puto bumbong.  And the surrounding is really a sight to behold with the multi-colored blinking lights of lanterns.  For this, LGUs have started hosting Christmas lantern, tree and other Christmas symbols festivals.  In Tangub City, indigenous materials are used to create Christmas symbols to be later displayed in an event. Of course, there’s also the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando, Pampanga which this year will feature the largest lantern to be ever built.

Indeed, the Filipinos love to party and they party like no other people can.  While the trend in western countries like America is to party in one big swoop after toiling at work for a significant time, in a society like the Philippines, every occasion becomes a cause for a celebration and so everyday is a holiday.  This may appal non-members of the society but festivities like these merely reflect the Filipinos’ zest for life and their unwavering capacity to laugh at life’s hardships.

So what are you waiting for? If you’re a foreigner looking for a truly fantastic place to celebrate a holiday or a local wanting to discover more of the country, Philippines will not disappoint you. Explore and be awed.

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