Fiestas have huge influence in every Filipino culture. Districts, barangays, cities and provinces in the Philippines celebrate fiestas to reminisce the past, to keep the Filipino spirits alive and to honor different gods. Sometimes, they believed in it as it controls certain aspects of life—family, health, wealth, livelihood and others, especially in Batanes.
Annually, you won’t be missing the “celebratory vibe” because fiestas of all kinds are marked all-year round in the Filipino calendars. Some are also declared as official holidays especially if these festivals have something to do with patron saints, products or activities that a certain place is known for. This practice engraves the Filipino culture and will stay for more years to come.
Let us take for example, Batanes. It is the northernmost province in the Philippines and also the smallest, both in population and land area. Though it is a minor island, they never fail to celebrate different fiestas to pay it forward and thank their gods for an abundant harvest. In addition, Festivities in Batanes also help promote tourism to showcase the unique heritage of the Ivatans.
Your tour in Batanes would definitely be not complete if you’ll not witness their different fiestas. Here’s a guide on what to expect when you visit there to spend your vacation.
If you happen to book around the 2nd week of April with the help of your travel agent, you are very lucky to witness the “Kulay Festival” which means, “anything dried” this festival highlights the simple yet colorful food heritage of the Ivatans.
They celebrated it in cooperation with the local government of Basco, Batanes and the Philippine’s Department of Trade and Industry. The main objective of this 5-day feast is to introduce locally manufactured and processed food products like dried products such as onion, garlic, rice, corn and fish among others to local and foreign tourists visiting their province.
Bayanihan or Payuhuan Festival
In the Ivatan laguage, “payuhan” stands for cooperation which is truly evident in this 5-day event every June. In this event, a province-wide procession is done to recall the route of evangelization. Communities and schools conduct the Ivatan Olympics to pay tribute to their native game. Another highlight of this fiesta is the Kanan Nu Kumavahayan or the Unity Lunch, a government funded celebration for everyone.
Held every 1st week of August, it is one of the must-see feasts in the Philippines. This is the time wherein people get to have a glimpse of the rich lands of Batanes. It is also the perfect time to have a taste of their cuisine and discover more about their history. This is a yearly festival of the Ivatans in Basco, Batanes centers on livelihood and culture. Coming from the name itself, “palu-palo” it is a stick used by Ivatans in the past to combat their colonizers.
Sabtang Island just held its first-ever Vakul-Kanayi Festival this year. Starting from April 25 to 27, activities are made from indigenous outdoor games and cultural shows to colorful parades and street dancing competition. Vakul is the headgear worn by women and kanayi are the vests wrapped on men when they work. It was made from Philippine date palm and they are still worn up to this day.
At the end of the day, Philippine fiestas are not only beneficial to the locals. These important events have proven to invite “balik-bayans” and foreign tourist to celebrate with the Filipinos. With the rich culture and heritage of the Ivatans shown during these fiestas, it just goes to show that Batanes has more to offer than its picturesque sceneries.