Travels around Eastern Visayas, Philippines

Eastern Visayas Festivals

If you really want to have fun, then watch and join our festivals!

kasadyaan Festival dancers.

A young dancer carries the image of the Holy Child during a performance of the Kasadyaan Festival in Tacloban City.

There are about 60 different festivals here in Eastern Visayas, and each of them is designed to add color to an occasion and to wow the spectators. They celebration is usually about different things significant to the community – it is either about religion, culture, tradition, history, folklore, agriculture or way of life of the early people. These festivals are held in different times during the year.

Festivals have always been a crowd drawer during fiestas and other significant ocassions in a province, city or town such as founding anniversaries, charter days and athletics events. Colorfully costumed participants would march, dance, prance, jump and chant to the rhythm of the drums during the grand dance parade held around town.

Alimango Festival dancer.

Dancers clad as mud crabs perform a dance depicting the livelihood of Sta. Margarita, Samar. The Alimango Festival is the pride of Sta. Margarita town.

On the day of the festival, people would line up early the route of the dance parade to have a closer look at the exquisitely-dressed performers. Then they would transfer to the venue of the ritual dance competition to witness, cheer and know the winners of the contest.

These festivals aim to make people aware of the local history, folklore, legends and way of life of the early inhabitants of a particular town. Festivals also aim to add color to the celebration and to attract more tourists to visit a place.

For example, the Pintados Festival of Tacloban City was organized in late 1980′s to “enliven” the then “boring” city fiesta celebration. The Pintados Festival depicts the tattoed early people of Samar and Leyte, known as the Pintados or painted ones. This festival is usually participated in by groups coming from different barangays (villages) of Tacloban City.

Then there is the Leyte Kasadyaan Festival, a much bigger festival that is being participated in by the best festivals in Leyte province and, sometimes, also by some other places in the region. Most municipalities in Leyte join this annual competition, sending their best dancers in colorful attire to join the merriment.

Pintados dancers.

A performer of the Pintados Festival raises her arms in jubilation while street dancing in Tacloban City.

In the late1990′s, these two festivals were merged into the now famous Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, which is one of the highlights of the Tacloban City fiesta held June 30 in honor of Sr. Sto. Niño (Holy Child).

At least three Leyte festivals have already won recognition in the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, the noted festival contest in the Visayas, and at the Aliwan Festival in Manila, which is the prestigius festival competition in the country. These were the Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, the Lingganay Festival of Alangalang and the Karatong Festival of Dulag.

Meanwhile in Ormoc City, they celebrate every October the Tugob Festival, which is the Visayan word for abundant or bountiful. The Tugob Festival is focused on the natural resources that Ormoc City benefits most like coconut, rice, pineapple, livestock, minerals, sugarcane, vegetable, fish, geothermal steam and water. Each participating group is assigned to a particular resource during the festival dance competition.

Tugob Festival dancers.

A contingent of the Tugob Festival of Ormoc City depicting one of the city’s resource – the pineapple – performs duirng the competition.

Other towns pay tribute to their livelihood and to things that help them attain a good harvest or to the products the town is famous for, like the Pahoy-Pahoy (scarecrow) Festival of Calbiga, Samar, the Carabao (water buffalo) Festival of Gandara, Samar, the Manaragat (fishermen) Festival of Catbalogan City, Tamulayag Festival of Padre Burgos, Alimango (mud crab) Festival of Sta.Margarita, Pilipig (pounded rice) Festival of Sta. Fe, Bagolan (coconut shell) Festival of Paranas, Tahong (mussel) Festival of Jiabong and the Banigan (native mat) Festival of Basey.

Dancers from Samar join the Kasadyaan Festival street dancing in Tacloban City.

Some festivals, however, would depict legends, religious or historical events like the Bagasumbol Festival of Naval, Embajada Festival of Catubig, Magallanes Festival of Guiuan, Sinugdan Festival of Limasawa, Lingganay Festival of of Alangalang, Pasaka Festival of Tanauan, Sangyaw Festival of Tacloban City, Lantawan Festival of Capoocan, Karatong Festival of Dulag, Sarakiki-Hadang Festival of Calbayog City and Padul-ong Festival of Borongan City.

The rest of the festivals are about the origin the town’s name like the Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, Tangka-tangka Festival of Tangkaan in Padre Burgos, Binaybayon Festival of Baybay City, Ibid Festival of Caibiran, Hononangan Festival of Hinunangan, Lilo-lilo Festival of Liloan and Kaplag Festival of Mahaplag.

festival dancer.

A lead dancer of one of the festival contingents carries the image of the Sr. Sto. Nño.

For more information about the festivals in Eastern Visayas, please don’t hesitate to contact the regional office of the Department of Tourism in the region at Tel Nos. (+63) (53) 321-2048/523-0295 and Fax No. (+63) (53) 325-5279. It can also be reached at (email) dotreg8@yahoo.com.

Food, accommodation and transportation is available in the different towns in the region. (VEN LABRO)

festival warriors get ready for their turn to perform.

Colorfully attired warriors of one of the contingents of the Kasadyaan Festival await their turn to perform during the ritual dance competition.

sinugdan festival.

Performers dressed as a Spaniard (left) and as a native (right) raise their bamboo drinking glasses filled with native wine as a sign of friendship during a “kasi-kasi.” The friendship ritual was one of the activities Rajah Siaui and navigator Ferdinand Magellan held when the latter and his crew visited Limasawa in March 1521.

festival contingent

A contingent of festival dancers pose for a souvenir photo.

pintados performers

Dancers of a Pintados Festival contingent perform a ritual during a competition.

pintados

Pintados Festival dancers perform in Tacloban City.

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