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Philippine Festivals in January

Feast of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo, Manila)

9 January

Every 9th of January, thousands of devotees from all walks of life come to the district of Quiapo to take part in the procession as a way of strengthening their faith or fulfilling their vow to the Lord.

The statue was brought by a priest in Mexico and brought it to Manila in 1606. Since 1787 the statue has been housed at Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo. For more than 200 years the church has been placing the statue on a gilded carriage every January and pulling it through the streets of Quiapo. People who touch it are reported to sometimes be healed of diseases. Catholics come from all over to take the chance that they will be able to get close enough to touch the image and perhaps receive a miracle.


Manila is a teeming megalopolis composed of 17 different cities that blends of some of the country’s oldest and richest heritage treasures and the most modern metropolitan features of the Philippine landscape.

It is the country’s heart and soul and the central nerve of all activities in the country: seat of government, centre of trade and commerce and the core of education, arts, culture and entertainment.

Historic, bustling, awe-inspiring, Manila is a blend of cultures and flavours that offers an endless serving of places to see, sights to behold, and experiences to never forget.

Ati-Atihan Festival (Kalibo, Aklan)

11 – 17 January

The Ati-Atihan Festival is arguably the wildest fiesta in the country. During the last three days of this week-long festival a parade is characteristic. A colourful happening with celebrants who paint their faces in many different ways and wear bright outlandish costumes as they carouse and dance in the streets to the hypnotic beating of drums and incessant shouts of “Hala Bira!”

The Ati-Atihan Festival began as a feast of reconciliation between the immigrant Malays from Borneo and the resident Ati until the Spanish injected some Catholic elements into it.

Kalibo, Aklan

The Ati-atihan Town of Kalibo is the heart of the Province of Aklan. Aside from the festival tourist flock to Kalibo to see the Bakhawan Eco-Tourism Park, the Museo it Akean, which serves as the repository of the province’s cultural heritage and the Kalibo Cathedral, built in 1581 and stands as the oldest edifice of worship in the province.

Kalibo also serves a jump-off point for Boracay, one of the best beach destinations in the world. A paradise of plenty, providing everything the traveller could possibly want from a holiday. Dazzling beaches, crystal waters and azure skies supply the backdrop for relaxing or partying, solitude or company. With a seemingly endless list of sports and activities on offer, areas of outstanding beauty to visit and hundreds of places to eat, drink and be merry.

Sinulog Festival (Cebu City, Cebu)

17 January

The Sinulog Festival is held in honour of the image of Santo Nino, a gift to the Queen of Cebu from navigator Ferdinand Magellan, who landed on the island in 1521. Masses, procession, dancing and parades mark the weeklong event.

The festival features some the country’s most colourful displays of ceremony and pageantry: participants clothe in bright-coloured costumes dance to the rhythm of drums and native gongs. The streets are generally lined with vendors and pedestrians all wanting to witness the street-dancing.

Devotees both young and old on the other hand, flock to the Basilica del Santo Nino to light their candles and pray and dance for their 400-year old icon.

Cebu City

Cebu City is the country’s oldest city, having been established in the early 1700s. Often referred to as the “Queen City of the South”, Cebu City is a unique blend of tropical paradise and business haven.

The city is steeped in a rich historical past – from the pre-colonial times to the time of the great explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted the cross of Christianity on 14 April 1521 bringing the religion to the island and the country. From its roots as a busy trading port in 1521, it has evolved into a highly urbanized metropolitan centre which now serves as focal point of growth and development in Southern Philippines .

Apart from its popular heritage, Cebu is endowed with a wealth of inviting, natural attractions that engage visitors in various activities. It boasts of white sand beaches, pristine waters as well as verdant mountains, mysterious caves and challenging trails.

Dinagyang Festival (Iloilo City, Iloilo)

21 – 24 January

Dinagyang is a spectacle characterized by frenetic stomping of the feet and hypnotic sounds of whistles and drums. The festival is one colourful whirl of a thousand people dressed in outrageous costumes, dancing and chanting day and night as they honour the Santo Nino.

Iloilo City’s Dinagyang has its early beginnings in 1968, when a model of the image of Sr. Santo Nino was brought from Cebu City to the San Jose Parish Church. The image was brought to San Jose Parish Church and preserved there up to this time, where a novena in His honour is held every Friday. The climax of the nine-day novena was the Fluvial Procession.

Iloilo City, Iloilo

Standing at the crossroads of the orient and the developed Western world, Iloilo lies in the heart of the Philippines. Its unique location has made Iloilo City the commercial, cultural and intellectual center of Western Visayas from the dawn of history.

Iloilo is endowed with natural wonders. Highland attractions from the cascades and waterfalls of the mountains of Iloilo to rice terraces and heights in its hinterlands. Worth visiting are various islands and islets of Iloilo that abound with white sand beaches and ornamented with tropical palms. Experience breezy fun while on an island hopping getaway. Explorations in Iloilo’s northern coast such as the mysterious caves of Gigantes island and the sea charms of Sicogon and nearby islets, as well as the splendid silhouette of Pan de Azucar in Concepcion town herald quaint stories and enchanting folklores.

Adapted from: WOW Philippines January E-Newsletter
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