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Celebration: May, the month of festivals.

Tourism is a major driver of growth for the national economy. Apart from being a source of foreign exchange, it also opens up livelihood opportunities for thousands of Filipinos. This year being Visit Philippines Year 2015 of the Department of Tourism, one of the program's come-ons for visitors, both foreign and domestic, are colorful and lively festivals or fiestas that are part of the rich Filipino culture and tradition.

Each city or town has a local festival of its own, mostly evolving around a religious theme - honoring a patron saint, thanking for bountiful harvest, expressing religious fervor, or commemorating an event. There is always a fiesta or festivity going on in the country, more so in summer months of March-May of each year, featuring processions, dancing, music, pageants and food galore. Fun-loving Filipinos open their homes to relatives and friends - even to unknown guests - during fiesta time, when the legendary Filipinos hospitality and warmth is more evident and felt.

The Philippines, the "Fiesta Islands of the Pacific," has many crowd-drawing festivals during summer, among them Pahiyas in Quezon, Panagbenga ni Baguio City, Masskara in Bacolod, Hot-Air Balloon at Clark, Kadayawan in Davao, Kaamulan in Bukidnon, and Carabao Festival in Bulacan.

The month-long Flores de Mayo, which began in Bulacan in 1867 after Mariano Sevilla published his translation of the devotional Flores de Maria, is a Catholic festival held in May in churches to pay reverence to the Virgin Mary, culminating in the Santacruzan or procession depicting St. Helena and her son Constantine's finding of the Holy Cross. The queen of Maytime festivals, the Santacruzan, does not parade the usual images of saints but Biblical and historical figures represented by sagalas dressed in elegant costumes.

The most elaborate festival of all is Christmas, the longest season celebrated with great joy and happiness in December. It begins with pre-dawn Simbang Gabi, reaching its climax at midnight mass on Christmas Eve and ends on the feast of the Three Kings. Other popular festivals held in various months are Dinagyang in Iloilo, Sinulog in Cebu, Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan, Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern) in Pampanga, Penafrancia in Bicol, and Moriones in Marinduque.

Most Philippine festivals are of Spanish origin. When Spanish missionaries arrived in the country in the 1500s, they used celebrations to spread Catholicism. They asked people, especially in rural areas, to participate in religious processions and pageants. Many communities in cities and town have been named after saints, who they honor during fiestas.

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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:May 12, 2015
Words:413
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