The Philippines is known for its delectable cuisine, sunny beaches, and breathtaking natural wonders. The country also takes pride in the thousands of festivals (also known as fiestas) that are celebrated each year. Every province, small town, and barangay has its own way of celebrating these festivals, and people from all walks of life are invited to come join in the fun. The province of Leyte, in particular, has fiestas that pay tribute to a town’s patron saint or showcase the province’s well-known products.
If you’re visiting the province at the right time and staying in one of the hotels in Tacloban, Palo, or Abuyog, here are some of the festivals you can attend during your stay in Leyte:
If you’re visiting Tacloban around June, then you’re in luck. During this month the people in Tacloban City prepare for the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival, which is held every 29th of June. Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is the biggest and most popular fiesta in the city as it celebrates two fiestas in one. The Pintados festival aspect celebrates the province’s folk beliefs, epics, and traditions, so the current and future generations can honor their roots. The Kasadyaan half, on the other hand, celebrates the cultural diversity of the Leyte province.
During this celebration, the city streets are strewn with beautiful decorations as it serves as the main stage where festival goers can perform their dance-dramas. A major highlight of this fiesta is the costumes that the participants wear. Many participants paint their bodies in an amazing array of colors and put on dazzling outfits that resemble the armor of the native warriors of old. The Pintados-Kasadyaan festival is also a good chance to feast on local delicacies and buy native products. Everywhere you look, you’ll see stores and bazaars selling the city’s specialties and proudly showing them off to you.
One of the most unique festivals you can attend in the Province of Leyte is the Turugpo Festival. Held every Black Saturday in the town of Carigara, the Turugpo Festival is a more than 200 year-old celebration that showcases the strength of the town’s mighty carabaos and horses. Thousands of spectators would watch the animals have at each other and be impressed by the horses’ and carabaos’ display of power. While watching the matches, festivalgoers can enjoy eating some of the town’s popular sweet treats like pastillas de leche, yema tarts, and pili brittle.
Every 15th of August, the Municipality of Calubian celebrates the Lubi-Lubi Festival to celebrate the coconut palm. The word “lubi” is the Visayan term for coconut and it’s used to describe both the fruit and tree. “Lubi” is also the root word of the municipality’s name. When translated, Calubian means “the place where the coconuts are”.
The humble coconut tree is valued for its versatility. Every part of it, from its trunk to its fruit, can be used to create quality products like coconut milk, coconut oil, and coconut timber. To celebrate the importance of this natural resource, Calubian throws a yearly festival and showcases the many uses of the coconut palm through art, dance, and food.
Another festival you can attend during the month of August is the Buyogan Festival. Held in Abuyog, Leyte, this fiesta celebrates the founding and the rich history of the coastal town. Buyogan is derived from the word “buyog”, which is the local term for honeybees. As such, it serves as the inspiration behind the name of the town, as well as the overall theme of the festival.
The main highlight of the Buyogan festival is the buyogan parade. Here, performers crowd to the streets and start performing a dance that is inspired by the movements of bees. Their colorful costumes and make-up also closely resemble the appearance of bees, giving the festival a fun and vibrant atmosphere. The Buyogan is held every 15th of August.
Karisyohan han Pasko ha Palo
Planning to spend the holidays in Leyte? Then you should definitely not miss the Karisyohan han Pasko ha Palo. This month-long celebration is held in Palo, Leyte, and it focuses on the beautiful and meaningful traditions Filipino families practice during the Christmas season. Each year, the town transforms itself into the perfect Christmas Village, featuring stunning holiday decorations like bright Christmas lights, colorful banderitas, and parols (lanterns) in various shapes and sizes. A lot of competitions and events also occur during this festival. Some of these include:
- Best decorated barangay
- Best belen (nativity scene)
- Best lantern
- Drum and bugle performances
- Christmas choral concerts
You’ll also get to eat some of the country’s favorite traditional Christmas fares like bibingka, puto bumbong, and lechon.
When it comes to throwing festivals, the locals from Leyte can really show you how to party hard. Whether they’re celebrating the feast day of a patron saint, the founding of their town, or the wonderful products that they produce, you can bet that the streets will be filled with fun, amazing performance, and great food.