The Pacific island nation of the Philippines is home to more than 100 million people who love to celebrate. The country's unique combination of Asian, English and Spanish culture lends itself to several barrio and seasonal festivals that honor both patron saints and the land. These festivals are times to eat, listen to (and play) music, and dance.
The Black Nazarine is the largest parade in the Philippines, and takes place twice annually in Manila, on the 9th of January and on Good Friday. Filipino men march barefoot through the streets of Quiapo, a metro area of Manila, carrying a wooden statue of Jesus. This parade has been happening since the 1600s, a tribute to the Philippines' Catholic history. Filipinos come out by the thousands to see and attempt to touch the statue. Legend is that miracles can happen to those who touch the statue of Jesus.
Flores de Mayo
The entire month of May in the Philippines turns into a colorful celebration with flowers to honor the Virgin Mary. A parade with flowers in full bloom is put on to pay tribute. May also honors St. Helen of Constantinople -- the most beautiful village girls are chosen to dress up in costumes and parade through towns around the country.
Bocaue River Festival
The Bocaue River Festival is held each July to honor the river's strong current. A pagoda is floated on the river, which contains an icon of Jesus on the cross. The festival lore is that someone fished the same pagoda out of the river more than 200 years ago. Be prepared to get wet if attending this river parade -- the hundreds of revelers frequently douse each other with water in celebration of the event.
The Filipinos have a special festival to start the holiday season called Bikol Pastores, which pays homage to shepherds of Bethlehem. Young men and women dress up in colorful shepherd costumes and parade through the streets, singing a song known as "Pastores a Belen." The festival takes place every December 18 in Albay.
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