My sister and I get hyper talking about teaching our kids and the many great educational opportunities out there. One of the things that we got really thrilled about recently was the idea of bringing our kids to Philippine fiestas to expose them to local culture.
It was a happy coincidence that she found a book, which I bought too, about Philippine festivals soon after our conversation middle of this year. Published by Tuttle Publishing, Filipino Celebrations: A Treasury of Feasts and Festivals is a colorful and child-friendly resource about how Filipinos celebrate different personal, religious, and secular festivities. (Available at National Bookstore for P693.)
Various town festivals, harvest festivals, religious festivals, and festivals celebrating Philippine history are featured in the book accompanied by attractive illustrations. Typical fiesta activities are also outlined in the book plus some activity ideas like how to make pastillas de leche and your own Ati-Atihan mask.
So, to kick off our lofty project, we trooped to Angono Rizal for the Higantes Festival last Sunday together with my siblings’ families, my parents, and in-laws. Originally celebrated on the eve of St. Clement’s November 23 feastday, the grand parade was moved a week earlier, which was last Sunday. We decided to make the kids get used to fiestas in nearby areas first before bringing them to farther provinces when they are bigger.
Here are some of the activities that we did and other ideas that I realized could be done with the kids before or after each fiesta to make the experience more enjoyable and educational.
Get background information
Other than reading Filipino Celebrations, we also researched for related information. We read a bit online about St. Clement, the patron saint of Angono, and watched around two videos of the Higantes Festival in previous years.
We reviewed a bit of Philippine history too and talked about how town folks put up the festival as a form of protest against the Spanish officials who forbid fiestas. A lot of festivals originated from historical events that would be fun to learn about.
Listen to marching music
Town fiestas usually have parades and I didn’t realize how much impact watching Angono’s grand parade would have on my little boy. He started marching around the house and pretended to be in a parade as soon as we got home.
The next day, I turned to Spotify and searched for the greatest marches. I rediscovered John Philip Sousa who was my father’s favorite back in the day. While listening to music, we opened a DIY musical instruments kit and made a guitar, chimes, and a teeny tiny drum.
Adapt fiesta elements for arts and crafts activities
The Higantes of Angono were traditionally made with papier mache, so I naturally wanted to do it too. I’m still gathering energy though for the mess that will surely come with even the simplest papier mache project!
Filipino Celebrations includes instructions on how to make Ati-Atihan masks and Pahiyas’ kiping. These would be great to do when we eventually make it to those festivals!
Explore the town
We stood on the side of the streets and watched the parade from the beginning. We loved the wide and tree-lined main street (I can’t remember the name, though!) and really felt the small-town vibe as we walked.
My brother-in-law is an avid art lover and collector so we just had to visit the Blanco Museum, which houses the artwork of a family of artists. From grandfather Jose “Pitok” Blanco down to his grandchildren, everyone in the Blanco family seems to be an artist! The museum houses the clan’s collective artwork. (For a look inside the museum, you might find this site useful.)
I eventually learned that Angono is considered the “Arts Capital of the Philippines.” It is the hometown of Lucio San Pedro and Carlos “Botong” Francisco, both national artists, and the location of Angono Petrolgyphs, rock art carvings dating back to 3000 BC. Definitely, this is a place we can go back to for more cultural exploration!
There are so many places to visit in the Philippines and so many local color and culture to imbibe! I hope that we will be able to visit as many festivals as we can through the years and teach our kids more about our country… and learn right along with them, of course! If you’re interested to do this too, click here for the complete list of Philippine festivals.
Which of the popular Philippine fiestas have you been to?