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Philippines Travel

Let mother nature bloom

May is probably the month with the most festivities. The perennial favorite is the Santacruzan celebrated throughout the country and the most popular is the star-studded one held at Intramuros, Manila. The festival is a commemoration of the search of Emperor Constantine and his mother Queen Helena for the Holy Cross. Down south in Bicolandia, Santacruzan parades are major attractions during the Magayon Festival of Albay, Magayon is the Bicol word for beautiful.

At this month too, flower festivals are held left and right, most of them coinciding with the Santacruzan, making the entire occasion a truly colorful celebration like the Bulaklakan sa Gensan held at General Santos City in Southern Mindanao. Up north in Luzon is the Baguio Flower Festival that can rival event the grandest Parade of Roses at California.

The Philippines, being a tropical country, is blessed with fertile soil and as such is home to a flourishing flora and fauna. And Filipinos also have festivals celebrating the abundance of Mother Nature which reflect their unique affinity with the treasures around them. There’s the Pineapple Festival at Daet, Camarines Sur, and the Mango Congress at Cebu and Guimaras. There are also a number of festivals centering on the versatile coconut like the Coconut Festival in San Pablo held every January. Other crops that are given special events are strawberries (Benquet), onion (Nueva Ecija), banana (Oriental Mindoro) and lanzones (Camiguin).

Filipino Ethnicity and nationhood

When June comes in, the merry-making continues notwithstanding the start of the rainy and school season. And there is an eclectic assortment of festivities, from the Buklog wherein Subanens of Dipolog dance atop a man-made three-meter wooden structure to appease the spirits of their ancestors to the commemoration of the Christianization of the Itawes in Cagayan called Piat Sambali.

If you’re wondering why there are so many festivals associated with ethnic groups, it’s because of the geographic trait of the country which perpetrated for centuries the survival of distinct communities that accounts for the various subcultures they have come to know and identify themselves with.

But the event that the entire nation can probably identify with is the Independence Day celebration on July 12, the day the flag of the Philippines was raised in Kawit, Cavite 105 years ago. On this day (and even days before and after), the Metro Manila-based government puts together a grand program publicized in all media establishments. Nevertheless, cities and municipalities outside the capital also hold celebrations that are either completely independent from or in conjunction with that of the Manila celebration.

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