What’s Unique in Bohol Fiesta Celebration?

                             By Vic Odarve

Widely ridiculed that the island will sink due to the influx of visitors during the month of May, the Bohol fiesta celebration draws their relatives from all over the world; allows them to join festivities with the native population, and shares their blessings for the whole year. It is indeed a unique tradition that the native inhabitants have been doing since time immemorial.

             A family reunion

For most of the native Boholanos who find their living outside the province, they feel that it is the obligation to visit their ancestral homes and opportunity for a family reunion and meeting their relatives and friends. The celebration drives excitement to revisit the island; links the roots of where they came from, and time for bonding and reunite the old folks, relatives, and long lost friends. Sightseeing the place where their old grandparents used to trail before is also another thing. It is an expanded universe. It is like traveling to the past where our forefathers were once before! And for those who once lived there before want to look back on their childhood years that were filled with events and memories.

During the month of May, villages often have color displays hanging along their streets, welcome signboards to visitors, and different neon lights display during the celebration. There are also carnivals where people could play, enjoy different rides on Ferris wheels, or just enjoy the native foods being sold at different stalls. The populace, with open arms, invites friends, relatives, and even strangers to join the big food preparation at homes.

                A new generation

Highlights during celebrations are basketball and volleyball games, discos, dances, and beauty pageants and clan reunions. The festivities also include processions with floats adorn with images of each village or town’s patron saint and sometimes local beauties. Lots of fun to join!

The folks have considered fiesta celebration as part of their tradition. Fiestas serve as a thanksgiving of the community people to their patron saints for the whole year blessings they receive; share what they have, not just the material thing, but also the joy and happiness; and thank the Lord above all for everything He has given. They save money for a year and spend during fiesta just to have something to serve and celebrate. Through good and bad times, the fiesta must go on.

Flores de Mayo is one of the highlights in 1980-81 fiesta celebration

Fiesta seems to shape the homing instinct of the Boholanos, and Bohol fiesta celebration is indeed a unique one. Boholanos, residing within and outside the country, come home during the month of   May to join the annual fiesta celebration. It is a never-ending journey of their life… extending to the next generation. Seeing the happy faces could already alleviate the burden after the celebration. For foreigners, hospitality, and warm receptions are worth emulating.


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