The Philippines is so rich in culture and festivals from Chinese, Spanish and American influences. It is a colorful and exciting country for local and foreign tourists alike. One of the country’s top beaches near the capital city of Manila is Puerto Galera in Mindoro, and it too is full of culture and festivals, with almost one major festivity for each month.
In January is the Feast of the Divine Savior. Also in mid-January is the Bansudani, a thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest observed in Bansud, Mindoro, a nearby town. Tourists are treated to street dancing, stage performances and fairs in marketplaces and schools.
On March 18 and 19 is the Banana Festival, which celebrates the abundant supply of bananas in Puerto Galera. It is two days of fun, dancing and banana eating. There are banana cooking competitions as well as a beauty pageant. The Banana Festival coincides with the Feast of Saint Joseph.
In April is a major religious event, which is the observance of Holy Week. This is celebrated in all of the Philippines, the only Christian nation in Asia, and is observed in ways that are unique to each town. In Puerto Galera and the rest of Mindoro, Roman Catholics hold a procession through the Stages of the Cross leading to the Catholic Church.
Another popular Catholic festivity happens in May, the “Flores de Mayo” (Flowers of May). Parades, dancing and shows are held in honor of the Virgin Mary. The highlight is a parade of young women dressed in white flowing gowns with garlands, flowers and floral ornamentations. In Mindoro, some people join the parade dressed as Bible characters.
Another fun religious event for tourists to observe is the Lechon Festival in June. Lechon means a whole roasted pig, skewered with a bamboo pole. Expect plenty of eating and dancing during this festival. The highlight is a lavish feast for the entire community and an award for the best-dressed pig.
In July is the Pakapya-agtike Festival in the town of Socorro away from Puerto Galera. This is a 3-day festival of floats and exhibitions and ends with street dancing.
A week in September is National Tourism Week of all over the country. The celebration is more pronounced at top tourist spots-which includes Puerto Galera, of course. Each tourism area celebrates this week-long observance based on an annual theme issued by the Department of Tourism. In Puerto Galera, tourists are usually treated to fairs, events and exhibits featuring local cultural products and foods.
In October is yet another harvest-related festival called the Kapakyanan Festival. The town of Victoria, Mindoro comes alive with street performances, beauty pageants and other events related to agriculture.
Christmas in December is important to Filipinos. As is quite obvious in all the other local festivities in Puerto Galera, Filipinos are very religious and love to have fun even while celebrating spirituality. The most important religious celebration is, of course, remembering the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas in the Philippines is said to begin as early as October when people begin playing Christmas carols and hanging Christmas lanterns. The most common way of celebrating Christmas in Puerto Galera is with huge banquets and parties by the beach.
Culture and festivals are windows to the country’s past and a peek into the huge hearts of Filipinos. Centuries of colonial and international trade influences have made the Filipino people very friendly, hospitable, fun-loving, religious, and welcoming of guests.