Festivals General

Boracay Day 3: Ati-atihan de Boracay

Sr Sto Niño Festival

Soot up for Sr Sto Niño Festival in Boracay

When I heard the night before that there’s gonna be an Ati-atihan Festival on our last day of stay on the island, I got excited and really hoped that the weather would clear up tomorrow. I never really got to shoot that much festivals so I was looking forward to this. And it’s not often I get to witness a festival by the beach. That morning, as if the Gods and the Saints were listening to the people, we finally got clear blue skies and sunny weather. Amen to that!

Events Festivals Pampanga

Fill ‘er up and fly

11th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

11th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

It’s the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta once again and this annual event is now on its 11th year. I really had plans on going back here once again since I enjoyed last year’s spectacle. At first I wasn’t sure if I could make this trip since a friend of mine who originally invited me to come suddenly backed out due to an unforeseen gig scheduled at that time. Fortunately, another friend texted, asking me for some info about the event. It turns out she’ll be going with her friends and I asked if I could join in. Everything was last minute though, as we had to leave that Friday night since we were going to stay at a villa in Mimosa. No one from the group wanted to wake up and drive early morning. So from the office, I hurried home, pulled out a small bag, grabbed a few clothes, took my camera equipments, dashed through my dinner and hurried to the place where they’ll pick me up.

Festivals Mountain Province Mountain Province Philippines Travel

All Saints Day at the highlands

Light a fire for the souls

Light a fire for the souls

I noticed since I was young, Halloween here in the Philippines has been greatly influenced by the American culture. Adorned in many houses especially in subdivisions, are numerous decorations from pumpkins, spiders, cobwebs and the usual monsters we grew up liking to fear like Dracula, Frankenstein, witches and the local mix of Aswangs, tikbalan, manananggal and white ladies. Those talk of ghost and other supernatural phenomenon that seems to populate our TV screens and print media whenever Halloween approaches have waned my interest recently. I used to like them growing up.

Festivals Thura Thien-Hue Travel Vietnam

Hue | Chao Mung Festival 2006

Lost in Lanterns

Lost in Lanterns. A Vietnamese girl inspects each lantern for tonight’s festival

We had no idea there would a festival in Hué at this time of the year. The Guide Books nor the internet doesn’t have any information on this, so we felt fortunate to have witnessed their celebration of the Chao Mung Festival 2006 in Hué. We were also worried at first since we don’t have any reservations in any hotel there. Thanks to Lee Tien, one of the Easy Riders, a group of Motorcyclist we met in Da Nang, he managed to book us a Hotel in Hué since there was an influx of tourists who are also attending the festival, most popular lodgings are taken. They booked us a double bed room in Ngoc Mai hotel, a bit distant from the central city but manageable enough and the rooms are elegant and cheap for $12 USD per night.

Festivals General Pampanga

Balloons in flight

Balloons in flight

The annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark, Pampanga

I was wide eyed when I woke up about 2:45 in Sunday morning. Pulling myself out of bed was effort enough but I have to get up if we were to catch the annual Hot Air Ballon Fiesta in Clark, Pampanga in time. It was the first time for me to attend this spectacle of an event and with free complimentary tickets to boot. It was an event not to miss, lest I have to wait again another year.

Fire it Up

Fire it up! Propane burners fill the balloons with hot air to fly.

We arrived in Clark by 5:45am after our meet up in Makati around 4am. The propane burners were lit up in the twilight sky and signaled the start of the event. Gradually the deflated balloons started filling up and the myriad gargantuan colors of these balloons started rising up from slumber and ready to take flight.

Festivals General Rizal

Walk with the giants

Higantes Walks

The Higantes walks the streets of Angono, Rizal during the Feast of San Clemente

Higantes (giants) Festival is what the people of Angono, Rizal calls this grand celebration. It’s a bit ironic coming from a town whose name came from a dwarf (“Ang Nuno“). I’ve been trying to catch this event every 23rd of November but failed miserably. Either I’m also out of town or it’s a work day. Finally, finally I was able to experience this gigantic celebration on this famed Artist Village.

The gigantic Paper Maches

The giants align. A Paper Mache art from taken from Mexico.

This gigantic parade of 12 feet high paper mache started last century when a Angono was still a hacienda of a Spanish Lord. And since it was expensive to have numerous feast at that time, the landlord allowed only one feast per year,that is the Feast of Patron Saint San Clemente. And since then Filipino were a party people prefering more feast, and dismayed by this decision, they just decided to make the best of it. The made the feast grand and adopted an art from from Mexico, brought by the spanish priest and made giant “caricature” paper maches of thir landlords.

Festivals Mountain Province Mountain Province Philippines Travel

A festival of lights

Sagada's Festival of Lights

A unique light show in Sagada’s Cemetary

No, this is not a scene from “Constantine” movie’s hell dimension. This is what the people of Sagada calls the “Festival of lights“. It’s so refreshing to see a different cultural practice being observed up here in the Cordilleras. A fellow traveler akin the practice to those of Mexico’s. So why is it like this? Not candles?

Actually some graves have candles for those who no longer practice the pine wood burning, but majority still follow the tradition. This tradition started when long ago there were no candles available at the province so they have to improvise with pine wood. Before that they have this early afternoon mass which they do a “Roll call” of all the names of the dead since the beginning of recorded history until to the most recent ones who have died. (So imagine the list growing every year and the ceremony grows longer) Then the priest blesses the pine woods which they will be using to burn as pyre at their loved one’s grave. By sundown all of them lights up their pine woods, thus the festival of lights start. From afar it would seem that the forest is on fire.

Sagada is a perfect place to go to during the holloweens, not only from it’s natural hanging coffins and human remains scattered on its vicinity but also in experiencing this “Festival of Lights”. Happy holloween!

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