Victory Liner offers access to northern festivals and tourist attractions
MANILA, Philippines – Travelers limited to weekend getaways and short vacations can experience exotic fun with less than 24 hours on hand by going north of Manila. Colorful and quirky celebrations that don’t require long travel time include the festivals of Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, Isabela, Pangasinan, and Benguet, offering festive music, boisterous merrymaking, vibrant spectacles, scrumptious food, and a dose of local culture with just a few hours of road travel.
The Sto. Niño Festival, Malolos, Bulacan. Start the year by attending a festival celebrating the Holy Child Jesus, or the Sto. Niño. Witness a grand procession of hundreds of Sto. Niño statues creatively dressed in different costumes such as a shepherd, a policeman, a king, and a basketball player. The largest Sto. Niño festival in Luzon is celebrated on the last Sunday of January.
Bambanti Festival, Isabela. Bambanti” means scarecrow, and that is what you will find in this popular festival hundreds of beautifully crafted and colorfully adorned scarecrows, plus festively costumed dancers, parade floats, music, and fireworks all contribute to the feverish, glittering tone of the biggest annual event in Isabela. The four-day festival is held in the last days of January.
Panagbenga Festival, Baguio City. Who has not heard of Baguio’s famous flower festival? Gaze in awe at a long parade of gigantic flower floats while enjoying the colorful dance routines, marching bands, and the crisp, cool air that is the trademark of the Philippines’ summer capital, Baguio City. Panagbenga 2014 starts on Feb. 1 with a grand opening parade and ends with a closing ceremony on March 3.
Mango Festival, Iba, Zambales. Join the street dancing, watch a float parade, and gorge yourself on golden sweet mangoes touted to be the best in the country at the annual Mango Festival held in Iba, Zambales. Final schedules have yet to be publicized by the organizers for this year’s festival, but the event is regularly held in March or April every year.
The Hot Air Balloon Festival, Clark, Pampanga. The sky’s the limit at the biggest annual aviation event in the country. This well-attended international event features whimsical hot air balloons of various colors and shapes, a showcase of rockets and radio-guided glider models, kite-flying activities, ultra-light formation flying, and skydiving shows. The four-day event will be held from April 10 to 13 at the Clark Freeport Zone.
Tanduyong Festival, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. Tanduyong is a kind of onion, and San Jose City is the Onion Capital of the Philippines. So every year, on the fourth Sunday of April, the residents of the city come out en masse on the streets, dancing to exotic rhythms and wearing colorful native costumes. The festival is highlighted by cultural shows, beauty contests, and agri-trade fairs.
Paynauen Festival, Iba, Zambales. The lively Paynauen festival is held annually on the last week of April at Iba, Zambales. It is filled with beauty pageants, street dancing, boat and carabao racing, seaside activities such as sand castle building and kite flying, and a one-of-a-kind duyan parade, where you can see the local beauties carried in creatively dressed-up hammocks, or duyan.
Bangus Festival, Dagupan City. We all know about the Bangus Festival of Dagupan, home of the best-tasting bangus in the world.” This year, Dagupan is creating its own local dance step called the guilon-guilon, which depicts how bangus are harvested from a fishpond. The guilon-guilon will be introduced to the whole of Dagupan through a dance contest. The contestants will be judged during a street parade and a plaza performance at the festival, to be held in April 2014.
Pista’y Dayat, Lingayen. Get your last hurrah in April by attending the biggest annual celebration in Pangasinan. Pista’y Dayat is a two-week festival that brings together the whole of Pangasinan in a grand parade that features the province’s nine best-known festivals: the Sawali Festival of Labrador, Binongey of Anda, the Puto Festival of Calasiao, the Mango and Bamboo Festival of San Carlos, the Sugpo Festival of Binmaley, the Longganisa Festival of Alaminos, the Pandan Festival of Mapandan, the Galicayo Festival of Manaog, and the Pista’y Dayat itself of Lingayen. It’s like attending nine feasts in one, with beautiful Lingayen beach providing the perfect backdrop for other activities such as beachside games, trade fairs, concerts, and talent competitions.
Pattaraday Festival, Santiago City. This jubilant celebration of Santiago City’s founding anniversary is held from May 1 to 5. Take advantage of the Labor Day holiday to drop by Isabela and see for yourself why the Pattaraday Festival is a Hall of Fame awardee in the Search for Best Tourism Event in the Philippines.
Libad Festival, Pampanga. Few people like to go out during the rainy month of June, but if you don’t mind getting drenched for the sake of travel and adventure, join the Libad fluvial procession, where Pampangeños take a boat ride to accompany the antique miraculous image of St. Peter on a very wet but joyful procession along Rio Grande de Pampanga. The feast day of St. Peter is on June 29, but the festivities are held on June 28.
Manyaman Festival, Pampanga. Every July 29, Pampanga asserts its claim to being the top gastronomic destination in the Philippines in the Manyaman Festival, which showcases the best of Kapampangan culture, products, and most of all, food! It’s the one event of the year the Filipino foodie should never miss.
Pavvurulun Festival, Tuguegarao. Join the most-awaited festival in Tuguegarao City from Aug. 8-16 for a weeklong celebration that features food festivals, horse and carabao races, boat races, band competitions, concerts, and a Ms. Tuguegarao beauty pageant.
Singkaban Festival, Malolos, Bulacan. Savor the gentle beauty of Bulacan’s culture, the purity of its Filipino language, and most of all, the quiet allure of its attractive and intelligent women recipients of high praise from no less than the country’s revered hero, Dr. Jose Rizal in a one-of-a-kind celebration that features not just a colorful parade but also a balagtasan showdown, kundiman singing contests, a parade of Bulakeña beauties, and a reenactment of the Malolos Congress, an important historical event that marks the writing of the first Philippine constitution.
Olongapo Mardi Gras, Olongapo City. If street parties are your thing, don’t miss the Olongapo Mardi Gras, one of the biggest, most festive annual street parties in the country. The venue is Olongapo’s entertainment center, Magsaysay Drive. The party features live bands and DJs for a three-day non-stop dance party that will start in the latter weeks of October. Exact dates are yet to be announced.
Binabayani Festival, Masinloc, Zambales. The Binabayani Festival has a twofold objective: to depict an ancient battle between Christians and Aetas, and to give thanks for a bountiful harvest in the province. It has often been called the Zambales Ati-atihan. It is celebrated every Nov. 30, which also happens to be Bonifacio Day, so you can take advantage of the holiday to join in the Zambales celebration.
Pagayaya Festival, Ilagan, Isabela. There’s nothing like another food fest to close the year. The Pagayaya Festival, held in Isabela, is actually a gathering of five provinces Batanes, Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and of course, Isabela to showcase their respective products and cultures. Not only will this give you the opportunity to shop around for some very interesting gifts, but you can also expect an overflow of food to mark the annual four-week suspension of your healthy eating habits.
Ensure safe and comfortable travel to Cagayan, Isabela, Zambales, Pangasinan, Pampanga, and Bulacan by riding on a Victory Liner bus. Not only do you get free Wi-Fi during your travels, you can also book your trip online and save yourself the hassle of waiting in line for your tickets.
To learn more about Victory Liner’s trip schedules, fares, and terminals, visit www.victoryliner.com. You can also get free updates on promos and special offers by following them on Twitter @VictoryLinerInc, or by adding them on Facebook, www.facebook.com/byaheng.victory.7.