Many know Zamboanga because of the beautiful flowers that grow here and the thriving businesses but not all are aware of the brilliant Zamboanga festivals that keep visitors coming back to this region in the southern part of the Philippines. One might be wondering what makes these Zamboanga festivals different from the events celebrated in other parts of the country but once one has attended a single celebration, it is a hundred percent guaranty that there are no other festivals that can compare to it.
Regatta de Zamboanga
Let’s take the Regatta de Zamboanga as an example. Done annually during October this Zamboanga festival is one of the most entertaining and colorful. Boat racing has never been this fun or amusing to watch. The locals make their own vintas or sailboats just for the Regatta de Zamboanga and regardless of whether they win the race or not, they go home proud and happy that they are able to showcase something that they have worked on for several months. Every history book about Zamboanga would have something in it about vintas but very few would be able to describe the Regatta de Zamboanga with such conciseness. The atmosphere at this Zamboanga festival is almost party-like with all the colorful sails and the contestants dressed to kill in equally colorful costumes. The Regatta de Zamboanga is an event sponsored by the local government and hence one can expect prestigious awards at this event.
Flores de Mayo
Derived from the Spanish term that means “Flowers of May”, Flores de Mayo is a Zamboanga festival that has been celebrated for over a century, dating back to the Spanish occupation of the country. Flores de Mayo lasts for a whole month and no other Zamboanga festival will exhibit the devotion of the Filipinos to the Catholic faith. Flores de Mayo is in honor of the Virgin Mary and this is an event that is participated in by children as they are the ones designated to bring flowers to the statue of Zamboanga’s patron. Although Flores de Mayo is not really unique to Zamboanga, but the way that this province celebrates it is different. One of the highlights of this Zamboanga festival is the Santacruzan which is a series of parades held in the streets where Christian items such as bibles and statues of saints are showcased. The children in particular look forward to the game at the end of the Flores de Mayo called “pabitin”, where children are blindfolded one by one and would have to crack a clay pot filled with goodies.