With its vibrant tourism industry and substantial agriculture anchored on its rich cultural heritage, Western Visayas is now considered as an emerging economy in the Philippines. For the Department of Tourism, this destination is on the beaten track, but it’s still a joy to visit and enjoy what it has to offer, and seek out its undiscovered attractions.
In this colorful and exciting region, six festivals are celebrated annually, namely: Ati-Atihan in Aklan, Binirayan in Antique, Sinadya sa Halaran in Capiz, Manggahan in Guimaras, Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo and Maskara in Negros Occidental.
Ati-Atihan in Aklan
Aklan is considered the country’s oldest province believed to have been established around 1212-1213 by settlers from Borneo. Every third week of January, heed the call of the Ati-atihan Festival and join the rythmic dancing of participants who darken their bodies with soot and don colorful tribal finery.
Binirayan in Antique
Antique is home to the Binirayan Festival which commemorates the landing of Bornean Datus led by Datu Puti and Datu Sumakwel during the 13th Century, a historical significance which brings pride to Antiqueños. The Malandog Marker is a monument to the landing site of the first Malayan settlers. The Binirayan Festival every April 30 to May 2 commemorates the landing.
Sinadya sa Halaran in Capiz
Join in with the locals in street dances during the Sinadya sa Halaran in Roxas City which literally means “joy in sharing and giving” when rituals and festivities of every town are captivated in the weeklong celebration of fireworks, grand parade, fluvial processions, fair and food festival and exhibits.
Manggahan in Guimaras
Manggahan Festival is a unique event celebrated every April 16-20 for the sustained promotion of the mango industry. The festival culminates in a grand showcase of cultural festivals in an apparent bid to show the world that there is more to the province than its sweet, fiber and pest-free mangoes.
Guimaras Island has 8,000 hectares of mango orchards which “create an awesome verdant landscape and the characteristic ambience of rural life”. These orchards produce the best mango variety forming as the province’s most important product.
With its over 50,000 fruit bearing mango trees planted on its soil, Guimaras is known as the “Mango Country” and prides itself as the Mango Capital of the World.
Dinagyang in Iloilo
Dinagyang Festival is Iloilo City’s version of the Ati-Atihan Festival but is definitely impressive in choreography and striking in terms of the various attired worn by participating tribes which reflect the ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry of the Ilonggos. Dinagyang is an Ilonggo term for revelry and merrymaking. This riotous celebration has evolved into a big religious and cultural activity which now features cultural presentations, sports competitions and various side events.
Masskara in Negros Occidental
The Masskara is a combination of the English word “mass” and the Spanish “kara,” meaning “face”. The festival which depicts the steadfast character of the Negrenses is held every third weekend of October up to October 19 when the city of Bacolod celebrates its Charter Anniversary.
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