Fiesta in the Philippines

Why do some families afford lavish celebrations during fiesta? Feeding the whole neighbourhood, or town is not an easy task. You have to involve the whole family (and extended family) on the expenses and preparation for the celebration, just to entertain and feed people, some of them you don’t even know..

Apparently, that is the beauty of these kinds of festivities.. Every fiesta is named after a Patron Saint of a town.. and it’s a thanksgiving to the guardian Saint of all the good rewards the family has received and it’s a way of sharing the good blessings to everyone too..

This one is in Bohol:

Every time I attend a fiesta celebration in the Philippines, these are my observations:

1. Fiestas are still alive in provinces while not so much celebrated by families in Metro Manila. I think this has something to do with cost of living and safety. It is not really easy to invite strangers to eat in your house in the big city.

2. You will be surprised even seemingly lower income families in provinces can still afford to celebrate fiesta. What is the secret? Some families have a member that is abroad, or have a higher earning income. Also, there goes the low cost of living in the province.. so don’t under estimate a nipa hut..

bahay kubo kahit munti, ang appliances doon ay sarisari

3. Almost all neighbors are related. If you are visiting a fiesta of a relative, you will be introduced to your uncle of the aunt of the grandfather of your dad.. or your 1st cousin of the 2nd wife of your step grandmother…

4. Reunions are a big deal to some villages. I observed even students who are studying in the big city took a long week absence just to participate in beauty pageants in the villages. And families who have migrated to other places go back and look for traditional food that they have dearly missed.

5. Every fiesta, several pigs and chickens went to heaven.. I said a little prayer for them :D. This is a picture of a roasted pig. For vegetarians, this is not a good sight; for Muslims, they can’t even imagine eating this, but for meat lovers, this is Heaven.

roasted pig

6. New to Fiestas in the Philippines? The trick here is to fast a day before Fiesta, then eat a little bit of everything in every house.. Rest assure that you won’t need to eat til next day.


It’s not everyday you get to celebrate fiesta, after the food has gone, it’s back to diet mode of tuyo and kamatis (fried fish and tomatoes) again… it’s time to work hard and be frugal, so there is something to spend in next years celebration. So what do you like about fiestas? Do you also celebrate them too?

Here’s a fond memory of Fiesta in Panglao, Bohol when I lived there last 2012:

Here are related articles I wrote about Fiesta in the Philippines

2 thoughts on “Fiesta in the Philippines

  1. Very interesting article. A sociology professor I had explained it as the only way people had to survive back in the caveman days. It was feast or famine, and if you didn’t share you would have a lot more famine for you.

  2. I think this is also the reason why some people in rural areas don’t get too rich.. once they accumulate richness, they immediately share to less fortunate.. which sometimes makes the less fortunate lazy. I’m sure there is a work around to this :D

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