Negrenses take pride in their colorful cultural and religious festivals. Each festival showcases the creativity of the Negrenses as well as their zest for life.
Festivals in Negros Occidental Cities
- MassKara Festival – MassKara is a combination of two-words: “Mass–” its means many and the Spanish “Kara” for face and thus means a multitude or mass of smiling happy faces. MassKara was conceptualized during a challenging time in Negros Occidental, the sinking of the MV Don Juan where many Negrenses perished and the collapsed of the sugar industry. It has since then became a symbol of the Negrenses resilience to triumph against life’s difficulties. Street dancers wear smiling masks and colorful costumes and dance to the beat of latin music. MassKara Festival is celebrated the week nearest Bacolod City’s charter celebration every October 19.
- BacoLaodiat Festival – BacoLaodiat Festival is Bacolod City’s celebration of the Chinese New Year. The word comes from “Bacolod” and “Laodiat” – a Fookien word for ‘celebration’. The festival is a showcase of the harmonious merging of both Chinese and Filipino cultures and its co-existence. BacoLaodiat Festival features cultural performances, lantern dance parade, dragon and lion dances, Chinese food fest, fireworks display, larger than life zodiac animals, and live bands. One of the highlights is the lantern dance contest where dancers don traditional Chinese costumes and illuminated Chinese lanterns.
- Pana-ad sa Negros Festival – Dubbed as the “Festival of all Festivals” in Negros Occidental, Pana-ad Festival brings together the towns and cities in the province in one venue where the best products, food, tourist attractions and local festivals are showcased. Pana-ad means “vow” in Hiligaynon and every April when Pana-ad Festival is celebrated is also a time for Negrenses to retrace their roots.
- Babaylan Festival – Of all the figures in the history of Negros Island, the Babaylan is the most colorful and enduring. The babaylan is a priest, healer, herbalist, alchemist, physical therapist, masseur and comforter to the sick and the afflicted. The babaylan is a medium and agent of the spiritual world. He read omens, interprets signs and dreams, and also cast spells. The babaylan is the village historian, keeper of oracles, folklore, epics, poems and trivia. The festival aims to rediscover the region’s indigenous music, literature, dances, rituals and other artistic endeavors. It is held every February 19 during Bago City’s celebration of its charter anniversary.
- Dinagsa Festival – Dinagsa Festival is a celebration in honor of Senior Santo Niño held every January. It has also been told that a huge image of the Holy Child appeared in the shores of Cadiz which scared the pirates who wanted to enter the small community of what Cadiz City is today which started the devotion of the people to Sto. Niño.
- Manlambus Festival – Manlambus is a Cebuano term which means “to strike with a club”. This is the traditional way of catching fish practiced by the fisherfolks of Escalante. The Manlambus dance showcase the unique way of catching fish using “lambus”, a playful dance characterized by jumps, leaps or hops. The festival is held on the last week of May.
- Himaya-an Festival – The feast of Himamaylan City celebrated annually every April 14-25 to honor and praise God for the good harvest and good life endowed to Himamaylanon’s. The highlight of celebration is the merrymaking and streetdancing along the city main roads.
- Sinulog Festival – The Sinulog is both cultural and religious in nature. Traditions has it that during the early days, Christian Filipinos livng along the shore were often attacked by Moro pirates. Folk stories has it that the Sto. Niño intervened to save the the Christian Filipinos. The Sinulog is celebrated in order to venerate the Patron Saint who saved them. The festival also recognizes the value of seasonal laborers of the sugar industry. In the celebration, the community becomes one in the common appeal for the blessings of the Sto. Niño. The celebration is held on the 3rd Sunday of January.
La Carlota City
- Pasalamat Festival – Pasalamat Festival was started in 1980 as a thanksgiving for the harvest and recognition for the sugar industry workers, thus the festival falls on a Sunday nearest to May 1, which is the international celebration of Labor Day. The festival is famous for its original samba beat composed by the late Mayor Luis “Nonoy” Jalandoni. This distinctive beat became famous as the “Pasalamat Samba Beat.”
- Sinigayan Festival – Sinigayan Festival is an annual thanksgiving in honor of St. Joseph and showcases the best of Sagat City. Sagay has a rich coastal and marine resources and it is reflected in the Sinigayan Festival where the bounties of the sea are the highlights of the celebration. The festival is usually held every 3rd week of March with food festival, agri-aqua festival and art cultural festival. There’s also a streetdance competition with performers dressed in costumes decorated with shells locally known as “sigay” from where the city and the festival got its name.
San Carlos City
- Pintaflores Festival – “Pintaflores” is coined from the words Pintados, which means painted bodies and “Flores”, the Spanish word for flowers. It features rhythmic dances and dance dramas of life and death and the triumph of good over evil that depicts the people’s thanksgiving of merriment for abundance and many victories. The festival is held every November 5, coinciding with the feast of St. John Borromeo, who is the city’s patron saint.
- Hugyaw Kansilay Festival – Kansilay is Silay City’s festival about a folktale showing the bravery of the Princess Kansilay who defended her people and fought courageously with her life against the pirate invaders. They were successful in driving out the pirates but the princess died in the battle. Her people were surprised after a tree grew from the ground where they buried her body. The festival is held every June 12, the charter day of Silay, and is highlighted by a streetdance competition.
- Pasaway Festival – Legend would tell that traces of copper or “saway” in local dialect during the olden times could be found on diggings in the riverbeds and hills of Sipalay. The natives started fashioning and crafted it into body ornaments because they believed that saway has medicinal value especially in relieving body pains. Traditionally, saway in the form of bracelet, armlet, necklace and the like is worn by the “tumandoks” in times of illness. It was also used as amulets against aswangs and other creatures of the underworld. The festival is held every March 31.
- Minuluan Festival – Minuluan is the old name of Talisay City. The Minuluan Festival is a celebration of the bravery, heroism and glorious life of peace-loving Taliseños. It is a tribute to the bravery and heroism of Kapitan Sabino “Sabi” Pangantihon who lead the resistance against Moro pirates. The festival likewise celebrates the feast of its patron saint, San Nicolas de Tolentino which falls on September 10.
- Kadalag-an Festival – The festival dance is an expression of the thanksgiving and gratitude of the people for all the victories they have achieved through the years. The festival is held every March 21 in honor of Our Lady of Victory.
Festivals in Negros Occidental Municipalities
- Balbagan Festival – The festival is a street dancing competition held in celebration of the Feast of San Isidro Labrador. Garbed in colorful costumes, dancers move to the unique beat of bamboo instruments.
- Hudyaw sa Lilas Pandan Festival – Hudyaw is a term coined from three dynamically spirited expression of man’s grateful and happy disposition: hudyaha, doyeg, sayao (merrymaking, praising and dancing). Calatrava is also known for its beautiful pandan products thus the festival features dancers in costumes made from woven pandan leaves. The festival coincides with the to the town fiesta honoring St. Peter the Apostle. Lilas Pandan is the center of “hudyaw” celebration of this town.
- Dinagyaw sa Tablas Festival – “Dinagyaw sa Tablas” is inspired by the history of Candoni. In 1935 Santiago “Tagoy” Diego, led a group of settlers in “Tabla Valley”, now known as the Municipality of Candoni. Tagoy and his men cleared up the area, cut off the tabla trees and buil a road. The bayanihan spirit, locally called dagyaw, is the core of the celebration. Thus, the festival name which is celebrated every February 11 in honor of the town’s patron saint, Our Lady of Lourdes.
- Lubay-lubay Festival – Lubay-Lubay Festival portrays and preserves the early culture of Cauayanons in facing adversities as well as abundance and to foster the spirit of unity, cooperation, camaraderie and thanksgiving especially for the blessings endowed by the Almighty. It is a thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest as dancers sway to the beat of bamboo poles and sticks.
Don Salvador Benedicto
- Kali-Kalihan Harvest Festival – The people of Salvador Benedicto have adopted for their cultural heritage the art of “Kali” otherwise known as “arnis” or “escrima”, the traditional martial arts of the Filipinos. Kali is designed for the physical training, mental development and spiritual upliftment of the individual practitioner which relatively strengthens his moral values. Kali-kalihan Harvest Festival is held every February 9.
- Ugyunan Festival – Ugyunan means to unite or to cooperate. Ugyunan Festival is celebrated every May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker who is the town patron saint. It showcases local products such as prawns, bangus and blue crabs.
- Hinugyaw Festival – “Hinugyaw” in Hiligaynon means rejoicing or jubilation. According to a legend, a long-haired woman believed to be Saint Mary Magdalene, aborted the invasion of the Moro pirates to the town. There was great rejoicing and celebration, thus the term “hinugyaw”. The festival is held every 30th day of April.
- Pagbana-ag Festival – The word “Pagbana-ag” depicts an optimistic Hinoba-an struggling to surpass the challenges of times, i.e. amidst economic and global unrest. It expresses people’s faith , unity and cooperation. The common vision is to make Hinoba-an shine as a livable community. The Pagbana-ag Festival identity is a rising sun and the 13 rays represent the 13 barangays that comprise the municipality. The lights engulf the entire municipality in abundance of marine and agricultural products, mineral resources, arts and culture, eco-tourism and technological advancements.
- Kisi-kisi Festival – Ilog, the first capital of Negros Island and Siquijor, was named as such because it is surrounded by the longest river in the whole Island of Negros – the Ilog River. The river stretches up to the sea where aquatic resources such as fish, crabs, oysters and shrimps are abundant. Kisi-kisi refers to the fast movement of dancers imitating marine life. The festival is held every March 25.
- Tigkalalag Festival – The Festival is celebrated every 2nd day of November. This is the Isabeleños way of giving respect to the souls of our departed loved‐ones in a form of merry‐making and a way of giving reminisce the mythical beings which our Filipino forefathers believed in.
- Bailes de Luces Festival – Bailes de Luces is a celebration of thanksgiving and hope. A befitting culmination of the Festival of Lights and Christmas Season and a grand celebration of the town’s Charter Day – January 5. Bailes de Luces meaning “Dance of Light” in Spanish is highlighted by a dance competition where the participants are clad in colorful costumes using light emitting materials and moving to a fast Latin beat.
- Manang Pula Festival – The name Manapla is derived from Manang Pula, popular name of Crispula Gallo, the beautiful and generous wife of Bernardo, the first Capitan of the town. Manang Pula Festival is a tribute to the town’s famous woman of substance and a celebration of the town’s Patronal Saint, San Roque, which is held every August 16. The festival is also a showcase of the town’s famous delicacies—the puto and pinasugbo.
- Magayon Festival – Moises Padilla, popularly known by its old name Magallon, is considered as the “livestock capital” of the Province of Negros Occidental. Every Tuesday, a “tabu” or market day, is one of the most anticipated day of the week as native sellers bring their “hinuptanan” carabaos, cows, horses, pigs, goats, chickens and ducks to converge at the town’s stockyard for a lively business transaction with buyers from nearby and distant places. This is the inspiration for the annual street and arena dance competition called the Hinuptaan Street Dance Competition where participants wear costumes representing the different livestock animals. The festival is held every last Tuesday of March.
- Tinabu-ay Festival – Tinabu-ay Festival is the reenactment of the town’s weekly tabu, or market day, considered as one of the biggest in the province. It is also a celebration in honor of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of this town. It is held every December 8.
- Mudpack Festival – Mudpack Festival is held every 3rd week of June at the Mambukal Resort. The festival centers on the harmony of man and nature. It is a symbolic celebration of man’s return to primitive time when he was closer to nature. It seeks to instill in the minds of the people the awareness and care of the environment. The festival is considered as the Festival of the Arts where artists gather to showcase their talent on ethnic music, dances and crafts, solo dance improvisation, drum beating competition and clay body painting using colorful clays from Mambukal.
- Salapan Festival – Salapan was coined from the words salap and pandan. Salap is a native word for “fishnet” and is linked to the traditional guinamos industry. While the word ‘pan’ comes from the word “pandan” which is the basis of the town “Pulo sg Pandan” or isle of pandan. Likewise, another ‘pan’ refers to the port or “pantalan” which is the major factor in the economic growth of the town. The pandan and fishing net inspired costume of the dancers depicts the livelihood of the people and the abundance of the marine resources and delicacies found in the seashore of Pulupandan. The festival is held every February 15.
- Bulang-Bulang Festival – “Bulang-Bulang” Festival is celebrated every February 9. “Bulang-bulang” or cock fighting is a character dance presentation which depicts the life and character of the fighting cock. The festival gives recognition to the game fowl industry which is one of the major sources of livelihood of the Municipality of San Enrique.
- Sag-ahan Festival – In the local language “sag-ahan” means to take or catch fish with the hands. The festival is a reflection on the life of the fishermen in the town of Toboso. The annual feast of thanksgiving and gratefulness to the Lord for all the blessing of abundance is held every July 1.
- Pasundayag Festival – Pasundayag Festival is a thanksgiving and celebration for good harvest. It is a farmers and fishermen’s festival in honor of the town’s patroness, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. The festival is held every February 28.