Located in the western part of Negros Island, Negros Occidental is known for its colorful and diverse festivals in which the world famous Masskara Festival is one of the most awaited festival every 3rd week of October. The province is approximately 375 kilometers long from south to north and known as the sugar bowl of the Philippines.
Colorful festivals was part of Negros Occidental’s cities and municipalities. This is how the province gave thanks for the good harvest, city or municipalities charter days and veneration of Saints. Let me now introduce to you the best, culturally unique and colorful festivals of Negros Occidental.
* Masskara Festival – Bacolod City is known as the city o smile. The home of Masskara festival. The festival is simply world class and unique. It is a combination of two words “Mass” which means many and a Spanish word “Kara” for face. It was conceptualized during the downfall of sugar industry and the sinking of MV Don Juan where many Negrense perished. Thereafter, a group of people from local government, civic groups and city’s artist organize an event that will showcase a merry making activities, street dance and street parties. The festival of Smile takes it center stage. People wearing mask to hide their grief from the province downfall. Latin music were played and dancers dance to the beat. Celebrated every 3rd week of October at Bacolod City Public Plaza.
* BacoLaodiat Festival – Bacolod’s very own Chinese New Year. Bacoloadiat came from the words “Bacolod” and “Lao Diat” a Fookien word which means celebration. The festival showcases the harmony between the Bacolod and Chinese culture and its co-existence. It also features cultural activities, lantern dance parade, dragon and lion dances, live bands, fireworks display and a taste of Chinese cuisine.
* Panaad Sa Negros – Also known as ” Mother of All festival” in Negros Occidental. Panaad is a Hiligaynon word for ” Vow “. Held every 1st week of April where festival of different cities and municipalities gathered to showcase there own unique festivities. It also comprises of food expo, agriculture expo, products expo and a whole lot more. It is celebrated and held at Panaad Park and Stadium.
* Babaylan festival – Held every 19th of February during the charter anniversary of Bago City. Babaylan festival showcases the story of a healer, priest, herbalist, alchemist and more to heal the afflicted and sick. During old times, the babaylan is the village historian, keeper of oracles, folklore and trivia. This festival aims to rediscover the lost identity of the Negros Province, its literature, dances, indigenous music and rituals.
* Dinagsa Festival – Last January i visit Cadiz and experience a fun way of celebrating their festival. Colorful paints were being painted all over your body wherever you go. Street were occupied with party goers. Street party is one best highlight every Dinagsa. The festival gave honor to Senior Sto. Nino.
* Manlambus Festival – A traditional way of catching fish practiced by the fisherfolks of the city is where the Manlambus festival originated. It is a Cebuano term for ‘to strike with a club”. The festival dance showcases the unique way of catching fish using the “lambus”. The dance characterized by jums, leap and hops as if you were fishing and playing. This festival is held every last week of May.
* Himayaan festival – An annual celebration every April 14 – 25 to gave honor and praise God for good crops and good life.Street dancing and merry making is main highlight of the city done in the major streets.
* Sinulog de Kabankalan – A localize Sinulog of Negros occidental. It is indeed a cultural and religious way of honoring Senior Sto. Nino. It is their way of giving thanks when Sto. Nino help them to cast the Moro pirates according to folklore. The festival is celebrated every third Sunday of January.
La Carlota City
* Pasalamat Festival – Famous for its Sambita, a samba beat composed by late Mayor Luis “Nonoy” Jalandoni which was started in 1980 as a thanksgiving for the harvest and recognition for the sugar industry workers. The festival falls on to the nearest Sunday to May 1.
* Sinigayan Festival – The rich coastal and marine resources of Sagay is reflected in the Sinigayan Festval, the annual celebration in honor of Saint Joseph and showcase Sagay at its best. This annual celebration is held every third week of March. It also showcases food festival, agri-aqua festival, and art cultural festival. The highlight of the festivals is a merry making and street dancing in which the dancers and performers were clad in a colorful costumes decorated with shells locally known as “Sigay”, from where the city and festival got its name.
San Carlos City
* Pintaflores Festival – A very colorful, fun and prestigious festival. It was my first time last November to witness this festivity. The festival depicts the story about tragedy and triumph of Princess Nabingka. Pintaflores derived in Spanish words “Pinta” which means tattoo and “Flores” meaning flowers. Celebrated every November 5 in honor of the city’s patron saint St. John Borromeo.
* Hugyaw Kansilay Festival – It is the story of a brave Princess Kansilay who fought to protect her people. The kansilay tree who was believed to grow where the body of the princess were buried is the symbol of Silay City where the city derived its name because of abundance of the Kansilay tree. It is held every 12th day of June to commemorate the city’s charter anniversary.
* Pasaway sa Sipalay Festival -Pasaway sa Sipalay is an annual celebration held every last week of March. It showcases street dancing and merry making as participants from seventeen barangays were clad in mardigras and exotic costumes in the semblance of copper minerals.
* Minuluan Festival – Minuluan Festival is a celebration of courage, bravery, heroism and passion of Kapitan Sabino “Sabi”. It is also n old name of Talisay City. Likewise, the festival celebrates the feast of its patron saint, San Nicolas de Tolentino which falls every September 10.
* Kadalag-an Festival – Victorias City is dubbed as the City of victory. It commemorates the glorious and victorious past of the people of Victorias. t is a weeklong celebration that highlight every 21st of March. Activities like the Search for Kadalag-an Queen, street and arena dance where only few of the lined up activities.
* Malihaw Festival – It is an annual celebration in honor of their patron saint Nuestra Senora de las Victorias. It falls on April 26 with a fluvial parade in the shoreline of the city as the highlight of the event.
Municipalities in Negros Occidental and its Festivals
* Balbagan festival – Possessed in a rich historical, cultural and folkloric events regarding its origin. Binalbagan is rich in shrimp production and locals found remedy to preserved the shrimp while in transit which is called ” balabag ” in which locals believed the place were derived. Another great story of its origin is about a giant snake which blocked the mouth of Binalbagan river. Binalabagan in english is blocked where other folks believe the place got its name. The celebration of the festival is to commemorate the place origin and giant snake icon and street dancing where the highlight of the event. Binalbagan is held every 15th day of June.
* Lilas Pandan Festival – The festival features Pandan weaving where this town was known. Mat weaving industry put the town in the map. The abundance of Pandan plant gives a lucrative means of livelihood in every barangays. The festival is also a way of thanksgiving for a natural beauty and bounty every Calatravanons enjoyed.
* Pabalhas sa Tablas – Celebrated every February 11 in honor of the town’s patron saint, Our Lady of Lourdes. Pabalhas sa Tablas originated from the actual history of Candoni. When a group of settlers lead by Santiago ” Tagoy ” Diego settle in Tabla Valley which is now Candoni.
* Lubay-lubay Festival – An annual celebration as a thanksgiving for bountiful harvest. Dancers moved to the beat of bamboo poles and sticks. It portrays camaraderie and unity upon Cauyanons.
Don Salvador Benedicto
* Kali-kalihan Harvest Festival – The festival is all about the traditional martial art ” arnis ” or ” escrima “. Held every February 9. the Kali is designed for physical training, mental development and spiritual upliftment of the individual practitioner to strengthen moral values.
* Ugyunan Festival – The word ugyunan is a Hiligaynon word which means to join, cooperate or unite. The festival falls every May 1 which is also the feast of towns patron saint, Saint Joseph the Worker. it also showcases the abundance of marine life like shrimp, prawns, bangus and blue crab which is the main products of the town.
* Hinugyaw festival – A week-long celebration of merry making and street dancing where performers dressed in vibrant costumes. “hinugyaw” is a local word which means jubilation or rejoicing. according to legend a long haired woman protected the town from Moro invasion. That woman believed to be Saint Mary Magdalene. There was rejoicing and celebration, thus, the term hinugyaw came. The festival held every April 30.
* Pagbana-ag Festival – The festival expresses people’s faith, unity and cooperation. The word “Pagbana-ag” depicts an optimistic Hinuba-on struggling to surpass challenges of time, i.e. a midst economic and global unrest. The hinuba-on common vision is to make a livable community. Artistically designed visually painted with a rising sun and 13 rays rays representing 13 barangays that comprise the municipality whose life engulf the entire municipality in abundance of marine resources, agriculture, mineral resources, industry, preserved arts and culture, eco-tourism and coping technological advancements. It manifested a livable municipality in a common and and advance era.
* Kisi-kisi Festival – Kisi-kisi Festival was conceptualized because Ilog was rich in marine resources like crabs, oyster, fish and shrimps. The word “kisi-kisi” refers to the fast movement of the fishes when they were hauled during bountiful harvest. Celebrated every 3rd week of March. Participants are all clad in colorful underwater inspired costumes and mimicking sea creatures gestures.
* Tigkalalag festival – Paying respect to departed loved ones is what the Tigkalalag festival of Isabela known for. This unique way of merry making and a way of giving reminisce for the mythical beings in which our forefathers believed in. It falls every 2nd day of November.
* Bailes de Luces – An annual celebration of town charter anniversary and thanksgiving. Bailes de Luces is a Spanish word which means the “dance of light”. Its highlight is dance competition in which participants were clad in colorful costumes using light emitting materials and dance to the beat of Latin music. The celebration starts from December 30 unti January 5.
* Manang Pula Festival – It was conceptualized based on a story of a woman who is Crispula Gala, the wife of the town’s Kapitan. She was so kind, passionate and loving to the villagers that everbody loves her. The locals called her Manang Pula where the town was named and later made it shorter into Manapla. The festival was once called Pinta Puto in which the town was known, puto is the town’s specialty. The festival not only showcases puto products but also fishing, sugar planting and thanksgiving was part of the choreography. This celebration is held every 16th day of August which is also the feast of the town’s patron saint, Saint Roque.
* Magayon Festival – As the livestock capital of Negros Occidental, the festival features different animals in which dancers are dressed resembling any livestock animals found in the town. This annual celebration is highlight with street and arena dance competition held every last Tuesday of March.
* Tinabu-ay Festival – An annual celebration held every December 8 in honor of the town’s patron birthday, Immaculate Conception. The festival is a reenactment of the town’s market day or weekly tabu, which is the biggest in the province. It is also a way to thank the Almighty for good harvest.
* Mudpack festival– Considered as the festival of arts and culture, where artist gathered together to showcase their talent in clay body painting, ethnic music, drum beating, dances and crafts and solo dance improvisation. The festival instill awareness in caring for the environment. It is a symbolic celebration of oneness of man with nature. The colorful mud painted all over the body of participants is abundant on the area, which also believed to have healing power. Mudpack festival is held every third week of June at Mambukal Resort.
* Salapan Festival – The festival depicts the town’s rich marine resources, livelihood and origin. Salapan was derived from “salap” and “pan”. The term salap was a native word for “fishnet” which is also link to guinamos industry. Meanwhile, the term pan came from “pandan” in which the town was derived “Pulo sang Pandan” or the isles of pandan. Another thing about the term pan was believed to came from the word “pantalan” or port that basically the factor of the town’s growth. The festival is held every February 15.
* Bulang-bulang festival – Celebrated every 9th day of February, Bulang-bulang or cock fighting is a character dance presentation which depicts the life and character of cock fighting. Cock fighting is one of the major sources of livelihood of the town. The festival gives honor and recognition to the game fowl industry.
* Sag-ahan Festival – Sag-ahan is definitely the reenactment of the lives of the fishermen of Toboso. The term “sag-ahan” is a local dialect which means to take or to catch fish with the hands. This culturally rich festival is manifested with joy, thanksgiving and gratefulness for all the blessing and abundance the town has received through the years. It is celebrated every July 1.
* Pasundayag Festival – A farmer’s festival in honor of the town’s patroness, Nuestra Seniora de Guadalope. It features a merry makng and street dancing competition. This is also a thanksgiving for the good and abundant harvest. This merry making is held every February 28.
A freelance hairstylist and makeup artist. Love to travel and explore places. Festival lover, local food lover and proud Filipino! Join me in my adventures and misadventures exploring my beloved country Philippines. Don’t forget to follow me on my social media accounts to stay updated.