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Blessings in Happy Fiestas

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By Jane Kingsu-Cheng

Filipinos are considered to be one of the happiest people in the world. No typhoon, monsoon, flooding, earthquake, tsunami, and landslide can dampen their spirits. They always get back on their feet. All smiles and laughing at the challenges they encounter.

HALA BIRA! — Warriors clad in colorful tribal costumes pay homage to the Santo Niño or the Holy Child Jesus during the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. (Tara Yap)

HALA BIRA! — Warriors clad in colorful tribal costumes pay homage to the Santo Niño or the Holy Child Jesus during the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. (Tara Yap/MANILA BULLETIN)

Why is this so? Foreigners have always been intrigued with how Filipinos are able to pull themselves back up, every single time. They wonder in awe how Filipinos can still find reasons to smile despite a loss.

This endearing quality is what sets them apart from the rest of the world. Add to the list is their innate sense of gratitude towards the smallest things, their forgiving nature, and their strong Catholic devotion.

What fiestas are all about

Combine all of these traits, and you have Filipinos planning fiestas in every town all over the Philippines. Fiestas or festivals are a celebratory form of giving thanks to God and the town’s patron saint for all the blessings received for the past year. It is a gathering of devotees who display their acts of faithfulness by taking part in the processions, hearing mass and completing the novenas.

Highlighting cultural heritage and passing them on to the next generation is another reason why there are fiestas. People plan as early as a year before the main event, with a number of programs and friendly competitions lined up. It’s a chance for the townspeople to showcase the best of their talents, from colorful parades, intricate costumes, down to show-stopping song and dance numbers.

And it’s always a delight to see it is more on culture, more on dance. The festival presentation should be in line with the Basilica del Minore Sto. Niño because there will be no Sinulog without Sto. Niño,” said Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, chairperson of SFI executive committee.

This year, the 454th Fiesta Señor celebration carries a theme One Beat, One Dance for the World in line with Cebu City’s hosting of the World Youth Day in 2021, said Tumulak.

The Fiesta Señor kicked off last Thursday, January 10, with the “Walk With Jesus” procession and novena mass. The solemn procession signaled the start of the nine-day novena mass.

The Sinulog cultural festivities started last January 11 with the “Sinulog sa Lalawigan” parade followed by the “Sinulog sa Barangay,” respectively.

The fluvial procession of the image of the Holy Child will be on January 19. The grandest festival, on the other hand, will be on January 20.

“We already have a total of 30 dancing contingents and 38 floats,” said Tumulak.

For the first time in its history, the festival will have a foreign contingent as the Wonju Dynamic Dynamic Dancing Carnival from South Korea will be joining as guest performers.
younger generation in traditional garb and dance to the ethnic beats.

Another reason why people gather at fiestas is to enjoy homegrown feasts of the town’s special delicacies. Having meals together and sharing meaningful conversations forges stronger bonds. It is also the perfect time to forgive, and to move forward and plan for the future together as a community.

Grateful celebrations

Giving thanks for the past year, embracing the rich culture and heritage, and strengthening familial and communities… these are what fiestas are all about. Be grateful for the blessings, enjoy the sumptuous food, sing and dance all night, socialize and have fun… celebrate the fullness of life through year-round Philippine fiestas.

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