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Philippine Visayan Festivals: Dinagyang

The Philippines is known for having numerous festivities that are celebrated in different regions of the country all year long. The festivals are observed to pay tribute to the local Roman Catholic patron saint and to pay homage to the barrio’s namesake for good harvest and health. These fiestas are both pagan and catholic in nature, as ancient Filipinos used to exercise pagan worship before the Spaniards introduced Catholicism to the people.

Three of the most popular Christianity-themed festivals in the Philippines can be found in the Visayas. Namely, The Sinulog Festival which is celebrated every third Monday of January in Cebu to pay tribute to the miraculous image of the Child Jesus. Ati-atihan, also known as “The Mother of All Festivals”, is celebrated in Kalibo, Aklan to honor Señor Santo Niño de Kalibo. Lastly, the Dinagyang festival in Iloilo, that is celebrated every fourth weekend of January, reflects the Ilonggos’ artistry, craftsmanship, and creativity.

dinagyang

Photo Credit: http://www.watchmendaily.com/news/dinagyang-aims-global-exposure/

Dinagyang is an Ilonggo term which means merrymaking. It was coined by an Ilonggo writer and broadcaster, Pacifico Sudario, to describe the Illongos’ annual riotous celebration which was then called “Iloilo Ati-Atihan”. It is one of the most colorful celebrations where tribes representing different barangays and high schools from different points of the province are invited to join and exhibit their ingenuity through their costumes and choreography in a very entertaining and competitive street-dancing competition.

The festival proper itself is a major attraction for travelers, but the night festivities are also something that both tourists and locals look forward to. The streets are usually littered with food stalls displaying authentic Filipino cuisine, as well as foreign and fusion dishes. People take pleasure in being serenaded by music provided by live bands as they hop from booth to booth savoring the diverse assortment of food displayed.

There is also the Miss Dinagyang pageant where several talented and beautiful Illongas vie for the crown. The entire celebration is then concluded by the announcement of the winners of the Ati-Ati Tribe competition followed by the fireworks display and public street-dancing in selected areas.

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Kinamot Kita!

A Filipino way of eating with bare hands.

How weird is it to eat food without the use of cutlery? Not only is it messy, but it also seems barbaric. However, it is a widespread practice in the Philippines and visitors from other countries enjoy the experience as it gets them closer to understanding the Filipino culture.

The Philippines is known for having diverse and multi-faceted customs and traditions, which survived colonialism and foreign occupation. This could be one of the reasons why people from other lands visit the country. They simply want to have a taste of the distinctive Filipino practices that make the archipelago a well-known tourist magnet. One of which is eating with your bare hands, or locally known as kamayan or kinamot. Others tend to get grossed out by this practice as it is grimy and seem to be an unrefined and an unhygienic habit. However, this custom has been a perfectly ordinary part of the Filipinos’ daily lives.

kamayan image

 

Kinamot is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation over the years. It makes the people feel more at home and comfortable in the company of their kins, promotes a stronger bond between friends, and advocates a healthier relationship among loved ones, as having meals together is considered to be an important routine in every Filipino household. Interestingly, it enhances the individual’s appetite towards food, as claimed by the locals, and wouldn’t be complete without using banana leaves as plates, for it adds aroma to the food.

The kinamot style of eating is pretty easy. All you have to do is mesh together a bit of rice and viand that should hold together as you pick them up with the tips of your fingers and thumb. The thumb will also be used to gently push the food into your mouth. You have to make sure that the food you meshed together isn’t too big to avoid choking. This method of eating is best with dry foods (fried or roasted), but not impossible when eating soup-based dishes.

Never forget to wash your hands before touching the food as eating without doing so is considered rude and completely unsanitary. Of course, this also goes without saying when you’ve finished eating.

Photo Credit: pagkilos ng kultura

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Growing Pains, The Process the Philippines Has to Go Through

So many things are going on in the Philippines right now all at the same time.

With one look, one would think that Philippines is in deep crap, that so many bad things are happening.  A new President still in his first 100 days whose actions seem to be severing the ties of the Philippines with the USA; every day, you see in the news people found dead in the street as a result (directly or indirectly) of the new President’s ‘War on Drugs’, hearings and fact finding open sessions left and right, getting the attention of United Nations for supposed human rights violation, politicians and government officials up against one another, alleged riot in the New Bilibid Prison that led to death of a high-profile inmate and injury of 3 others (an incident that I thought only happens in action movies) and the passing of a competent and brave Senator that we have now.

This is not to mention other bad things that we go through on a regular basis that they seemed normal already like traffic, corruption and crimes.

Everything seems to be in chaos.  Every day, you hear something new is happening.  And most of the time, it’s bad news, it’s scary news, it’s alarming news.

With one look, one would think that Philippines is going downhill.  But to me, it’s a process that Philippines has to go through.  It’s a painful and difficult process.  It’s full of struggles.  But I know for sure that this is just the growing pains that Philippines and the Filipino people have to go through so that we may grow stronger as a nation, as people.

It happens even in our personal struggles, we have to be broken to be whole again, remember how a flower has to be crushed so it can produce the most fragrant perfume, remember how an egg needs to be cracked open so a delicious omelette can be served and enjoyed.  I am positive that the same thing is happening in the Philippines, bad things are happening to give way for the good things to happen, maybe not immediately, but our children and the future generation will definitely enjoy the better Philippines.

   Photo Credit:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_the_Philippines

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Courtship, The Traditional Filipino Way

Courtship is different for each culture and I love how in the Filipino culture, it would require hard work, commitment and perseverance.  The time, the energy, the effort, the thoughts and the commitment will never be matched by a monetary value.  It’s like giving a part of yourself and your life to the person who hasn’t given her sweet yes to you yet.

See what a man has to do to win the heart of his beloved.

Tulay (go-between)

A man, no matter how much she likes the lady, can’t just approach her in the street and ask for her number or address.  He would need to seek the help of a common friend who will act as the bridge or the go-between (similar to a wingman) to ask permission from the lady’s parents to visit her in the house.

Thoughtful Gifts

When a permission to visit is granted, the man is expected to bring thoughtful gifts like flowers, chocolates and love letters.  Visiting the lady’s house will then be more frequent and consistent to show his commitment.

Paninilbihan

As the courtship advances, the frequent visits and thoughtful gifts will be accompanied by paninilbihan or servitude.  A man’s sincere desire to help in the lady’s house is a way to show his good intentions for her.  The usual act of servitude includes fetching water from the well to the lady’s house, chopping of firewood and pounding of rice.

Harana

Harana or serenade is also a big part of the courtship.  The man would sing a love song outside the lady’s house at night and until she opens her window to see and listen to him sing.  After the harana, he is then accommodated inside the house.

Photo Credit: http://angryasiangirlsunited.tumblr.com/post/40196204090/asean2015-asean-community-courtship

Chaperoned Dates

The courtship progresses and the lady accepts her suitor’s love and they can finally go out on a date but this can’t be done without a chaperon.  Although already in the relationship, t is necessary the couple is not left alone; hence, a chaperon should always be present in the couple’s company when they go out on a date.

Pamamanhikan

When the man feels he is ready to get married, he brings his parents to the lady’s house to formally ask for her hand in marriage.  If both parties agree to the engagement, the parents of the lady and the man will start discussing wedding plans for the couple.

Courting a Filipina in a traditional way is not easy and takes a real man with his true love to endure that long and arduous process of courtship.  But when it comes to true love, it’s all worth it.

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Philippine’s Lechon: The Best in the World

“The Best in the World”

That was how TV chef Anthony Bourdain described Lechon in the Philippines in his show No Reservations. Watch the video below.

It was also quoted in Time Magazine where the popular chef declared Philippines Lechon as the the “Best Pig Ever.”

Photo Credit: http://pinoylife.com/2009/02/17/anthony-bourdain-hails-lechon-as-the-best-pig-ever/

Coming from TV chef Anthony Bourdain, who must be an authority on pig dishes considering him being famous for his love for all things porcine, this must hold true.  He visited Cebu, Philippines for his show No Reservations and declared that he found the ‘best pig ever!’  That is after having a taste of the Philippine’s Lechon, a slow-roasted suckling pig.

Photo Credit: http://bellyblabber.blogspot.com/2009/02/philippines-tops-bourdains-hierarchy-of.html

Those who are not in the Philippines, despair not for the same slow-roasted suckling pig is also available for you.  Adeline’s Catering in Skokie, Illinois serves the traditional Philippine Lechon as its primary dish. And having delicious Pinoy lechon on your table  is just a call away, just dial 1-847-568-1190!Pinoy Lechon

 

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Kadayawan Festival

It’s the time of the year again when one of the most popular fiesta is celebrated in Davao.  Kadayawan Festival is held every third week of August.  Derived from the friendly greeting Madayaw, it means good, valuable, superior or beautiful. Like other Filipino festivals, Kadayawan is a thanksgiving of sort – a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bountiful harvest and the serenity of living.

Photo Credit:  http://davao.sunstar.com.ph/kadayawan/page/2/

Kadayawan Festival has a rich history that can be traced back to Pre-colonial Period when the Davao’s natives gathered at Mount Apo to offer thanksgiving to a diety called Manama (the Supreme Being) and Bulan (a moon deity) during a night of full moon.  The full moon would be greeted by the name ‘dayaw’ as it was so beautiful and recognized as perfect and praiseworthy for its spectacular shape and brilliance.  The natives would offer fresh fruits, vegetables, farm Produce and rice accompanied by loud singing and dancing.

One of the award-winning entries of Pamulak Kadayawan.

Photo Credit:  http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/travel/ph-travel/103471-davao-kadayawan-festival-2015

It was in 1988 when the then City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (now the President elect of the Philippines) named the festival as Kadayawan sa Dabaw in celebration and gratitude for the bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables, flowers and other produce in Davao as well as the richness of the city’s culture.

Photo Credit:  http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/10830-colors,-dance-and-abundance-at-kadayawan

To this day, the Kadayawan Festival has kept its tradition, a colourful and lively celebration every year where visitors get the chance to buy fresh and affordable farm Produce of Davao and know more about the unique culture of the city.

 

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Sisig, a Well-Loved Filipino Dish

The first time I’ve known sisig was when it was a popular pulutan for drinking sprees.  The first sight of it didn’t really appeal to me.  It simply looked like a mixture of stuff that I don’t know of.  But I must admit that it smelled delicious.  And so I tried to have a taste of it.  And boy! it was indeed delicious!

Photo Credit: http://leahdeleon.com/2014/05/25/food-post-rekados-cafe-restorante/

Two years ago, an article from The New York Times was quoted saying ‘This is sisig, the greatest pork hash — arguably greatest pork dish — on earth.’  This article made a buzz knowing how Filipinos take pride whenever something of Filipino origin is praised via international media.

Sisig is served on a hot sizzling plate with raw egg on top of it which eventually gets cooked because the dish is served really hot. It is made of portions of the pig’s head like ears, brains, snout and cheeks (yummy, right!?) and chicken liver and other ingredients to make it even more tasty like onion, pepper, ginger, chili flakes, garlic,salt, raw egg and a pinch of calamansi!  Okay I am salivating now!

Since the popularity of pork sizzling sisig, other variations also surfaced.  there are now chicken sisig, bangus sisig, oyster sisig and even a tofu sisig.  Some likes their sisig with mayonnaise.  However you want it, sizzling sisig will always be a winner.

Photo Credit: http://www.spot.ph/eatdrink/the-latest-eat-drink/64350/top-10-best-sisig-manila-2015-edition

 

Now this used to be a simple pulutan among drinking buddies can now be found being served even in posh restaurants.  Even more so, it is also acknowledged internationally, foreigners trying it and really liking it!

 

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Adobo, That Classic Filipino Food

Considered as a national dish in the Philippines, Adobo is that one particular food that can be so versatile hence it never goes out of style. Ask any Filipino living abroad of what they miss in the Philippines and Adobo is often in the list. When you say Philippines, along with jeepney, balut among others, Adobo will always come to mind.

Photo Credit: http://salu-salo.com/pork-adobo/

Although the name sounds Spanish, Adobo is indigenous to the Philippines. And being a warm country we tried to come up with dishes that would last long and doesn’t get spoiled easily. Adobo is one food that is naturally preserved because of its basic ingredient vinegar.

Photo Credit: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2011/07/chicken-adobo/

The basic recipe is very simple really. All you need would be chicken/pork stewed in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, pepper and bay leaf and you’re good to go! Some like it saucy and some like it a bit dry. Some like it sweet, some like it tangy and salty. Not only is it delicious, it also comes in different flavours to suit your taste, here’s a list of some of them:

1. Pork Adobo

2. Chicken Adobo

3. Adobong Pusit

4. Chicken Liver Adobo

5. Adobo sa Buko

6. Adobo sa Dilaw

7. Adobong Puti

8. Adobo sa Gata

9. Adobong Ilongo

10. Pineapple Chicken Adobo

Photo Credit: http://www.kawalingpinoy.com/2015/01/adobong-puti/

Although there’s a basic guide to cooking adobo, one is still free to experiment and come up with his/her own type of adobo.

I remember, whenever we can’t think of anything to cook, we would always decide on having adobo, not because we are settling but because with adobo, one can’t go wrong, it’s very rare you find a person who doesn’t eat this dish, right?

Now, just writing about this dish and looking at the photos make me crave for adobo!

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The Panagbenga Festival

Also known as Flower Festival, Panagbenga Festival is an annual celebration in the Philippines every month of February. A famous month-long event in Baguio City, a lot of local and international tourists come to the summer capital of the Philippines to witness the parade of fresh beautiful flowers and street dance in Session Road in Baguio City.

The word “Panagbenga” is from a Kankanaey term which means ‘season of blooming’. This flower festival is supposed to reflect the history, traditions and values of Baguio and of the Cordilleras as a whole which aims to boost the tourism of the region.

While the festival happens in February, people starts to visit Baguio as early January when the flowers starts to bloom. But it’s in the last three days of February where the grand celebration takes place with colorful street dance and parade of floats full of fresh flowers of different designs.

panagbenga festival 2016

Photo Credit: http://www.iweb.ph/panagbenga-festival-2016#

The celebration opens with a parade that signals the start of Panagbenga which is participated by contingent volunteers.  A short opening program follows along with competitions between drum and lyre including street dancing. The street dance is participated by people wearing colorful costumes, some in native clothes which represents the indigents of Cordillera while some are in contemporary clothes made if recycles materials.

Photo Credit: http://filipinolifemagazine.com/philippine-fiestas/

Then there are trade fairs and bazaars at the Burnham Park where you could buy a lot of souvenirs from the event. You will be at awe at the various products that are native to Baguio that are really worth buying and bringing back home.

Photo Credit: http://www.choosephilippines.com/do/events/2573/abs-cbn-baguio-kick-20th-anniversary/

The grand float parade comes after which showcases the Filipino ingenuity in designing awesome floats using various colorful fresh flowers. The parade opens with rose petals being showered along Session road while marching bands play lively tunes that set the festive mood of the occasion.

Session Road will be closed to vehicles as flowers and stalls together with side walk cafes and food outlets are set up along the road. Selected areas are going to be venues for street and musical entertainers.

Photo Credit: http://jeremiastelva.blogspot.com/2011/03/session-road-in-boom-panagbenga-2011.html

Panagbenga Festival then shall have the closing ceremonies by featuring field demonstrations and exhibitions and then a spectacular fireworks display in the evening.

There is no doubt Panagbenga festival is one of the most sought after festivals in the Philippines. Personally, witnessing this kind of events brings me an overwhelming feeling of hope and happiness. The sight of so many fresh, beautiful, colorful flowers gives me that feeling. That’s why it was said that it’s best to start your day with a fresh flower in the morning; it starts your day right, happy and hopeful… like a fresh beginning.

Red Rose

If a single rose can make feel good already, imagine what an enormous number of fresh   beautiful flowers of different  kinds and colors all around me can do!

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Top 5 Street Foods in Manila

Manila is a much-publicized place because of its crowded places, the famous Luneta Park where the country’s hero monument is being displayed, the Laguna de Bay where you can sit around with your family or loved ones at the seaside while watching the perfect sunset to come down, the bright lights during the night, and of course, Manila will not be Manila if there are no street foods around the corner. As you walked down the streets in Manila you can see a lot of street vendors selling their goodies. Everywhere the smell of smoke coming from various grilled foods will cross your nostrils, thus leaving you drooling for those unique foods. So what are the most famous street foods in Manila? There are a lot of different varieties that we can choose. Here are some of the famous foods you will encounter down the Manila streets.

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