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Top 4 Festivals In Zamboanga, The Philippines

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The Philippines is considered a paradise of different natural resources. The tropical islands are rich in colonial history as a number of different countries from different timelines have tried to colonize the archipelago. Its beauty attracts everyone who gets a glimpse of it, and until today, tourists are enticed by the overwhelming pulchritude of the country. The Philippines can be considered a melting pot of different cultures that date back to colonial times. Zamboanga City is located on the country’s southern and second-largest island—Mindanao. It has not only accepted the culture of Spanish colonial masters but also imbibed some of the Spaniards’ traits as well. The culture of celebrating festivals has been well-preserved, and such fiestas, as they are commonly called, are abundant up to the present. Experience the intermingling of Spanish and Filipino cultures as you visit and take part in the top festivals in Zamboanga, the Philippines.

1. Zamboanga Hermosa Festival

Zamboanga Hermosa Festival

Zamboanga Hermosa Festival is one of the main and most famous festivals of Zamboanga. It is known locally as Fiesta Pilar. It is a monthlong celebration held during October annually in Zamboanga City—the city center of Zamboanga Peninsula in the Philippines. It commemorates the patron saint Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) whose likeness is immortalized in Fort Pilar, Zamboanga. The people’s devotion to the Nuestra Señora del Pilar runs deep as it is supplemented by a rich legend, along with stories of miracles and apparitions seen near the pilar. Hermosa Festival features a myriad of activities such as sports events, musical concerts, agricultural trade fairs, a Chavacano song festival, a street-dance competition wherein different schools within the city compete for the title of the best, and Wow Zamboanga—showcasing the diverse talents, tastes, and ideas of the different barangays (neighborhoods) within the city. Witness the colorful costumes of the dancers as they parade through the streets of Zamboanga.

Zamboanga Hermosa Festival

Address: Zamboanga City, Philippines

Website: Zamboanga Hermosa Festival

Takes place: October

2. Regatta de Zamboanga

Regatta de Zamboanga

Regatta de Zamboanga is the most scintillating and most awaited event during Fiesta Pilar. It is a fluvial racing contest showcasing locally constructed vintas and bancas—which are traditional outrigger boats of the Mindanaoans, with colorfully painted hulls and artistically sewn sails. These sails are colored and decorated artistically as they try to embody what hermosa is—the Spanish and Chavacano word for beautiful. Each vinta carries two persons who paddle to add speed to the wind that carries the sail, as it navigates along a predetermined course of about 400 meters (1,312 feet). Only Zamboanga residents can join the competition, and during the most recent year alone, there were about 220 vintas that joined the race. Cash prizes and food packages along with recognition await the first five finishers of the race. You will definitely be amazed by the many talents of Mindanaoans. Do not forget to watch the competition and cheer for your favorite team!

Regatta de Zamboanga

Address: RT Lim Boulevard, Zamboanga City, Philippines

Takes place: October

3. Flores de Mayo

Flores de Mayo

“Flowers of May” is the direct translation of this festival’s Spanish name. It is a monthlong revelry that is held during May annually, and it is celebrated in honor of the Virgin Mary. Unlike bougainvilleas that bloom year-round, there are a number of flowers that bloom only in the month of May, which include hibiscus, Chichiricas, and caballero. During this festival, flower offerings are made daily in churches and village chapels inside barrios. The traditional procession is highlighted by statues of the Virgin Mary in colorful floral decorations. The festival culminates at the end of May with Santacruzan, a daylong celebration of parades and processions. It is a ritual pageant that depicts the discovery of the true cross by Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. Participants from different places in the Philippines visit the city to take part during Flores de Mayo. The representatives wear beautiful national Filipino attires as they walk down the streets of Zamboanga.

Flores de Mayo

Address: Zamboanga City, Philippines

Takes place: May

4. Zamboanga City Bird Festival

The children of Zamboanga spread their wings for the 9th Philippine Bird Festival. #9thpbf

Posted by Haribon Foundation on Sunday, 2 March 2014

Considered as the country’s biggest celebration of avifaunal diversity, Zamboanga City Bird Festival is celebrated by bird-watchers, conservationists, and tourists from local and foreign origins. Zamboanga is not only rich in endemic birdlife but also attractive for migratory birds since it provides a suitable ecosystem for a myriad of bird species. The coastal wetlands of Zamboanga are inviting to congregations of migratory terns and wader species such as stilts, sandpipers, and plovers. The fishponds around serve as nesting areas for black-crowned herons, rufous, and great egrets. As you ascend high altitudes, you may catch a glimpse of more elusive species like Steere’s pitta and writhed hornbill. During the festival, participants of all ages parade in colorful bird costumes. You can take beautiful photos of the vivid colors and the smiles of many as they parade down the streets of Zamboanga City. Locals also showcase their cuisine to help boost tourism in the region.

Zamboanga City Bird Festival

Address: Zamboanga City, Philippines

Takes place: February - March

Experience the intermingling of cultures in Zamboanga

Do not forget about Zamboanga and the slew of festivals that are celebrated here during your visit to the Philippines. Due to its distance from the capital city of Manila, it is most commonly overlooked, but Zamboanga can surely be considered an underrated travel destination. It is a beautiful place that showcases the well-preserved culture of the southern part of the country. So keep updated on the exact dates of the local celebrations. Use this list as your guide during your visit. It will make your trip in the Philippines full of colorful memories. Remember to take lots of photos to complete your experience.

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I am a student-writer from the Philippines. As I write, I get to know more about places I have yet to discover and explore. My goal in the future is to travel the world and make the most of every...Read more

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