Bohol Island Travel Guides

January

Suroy sa Musikero: the early part of the year, stretching from Christmas to February, sees local musicians staging concerts throughout the towns of Bohol. These concerts are usually accompanied by dinner or refreshments.

February

People Power Day: late February sees the locals celebrating the Filipino will for self-governance. On this day, citizens remember the revolution of 1986 that toppled 20 years of dictatorship under the Marcos regime. This is a relaxed time of celebration and a source of great pride for Filipinos.

March

Sandugo Festival: this is a major provincial festivity complete with formal dances, cultural expositions, street performances and an agro-industry fair. The entire event comes to a climax with a re-enactment of the blood compact (sandugo) between Don Miguel Lopez De Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna.

April

Senakulo: the week leading up to Easter Sunday is a solemn time throughout many of the towns of Bohol. Elaborate rituals outlining the Stations of the Cross focus on several aspects of Jesus' suffering during this time. Some participants are so zealous that they choose to be nailed to a cross in an attempt to empathise with the suffering of Christ. While portions of this festival may be shocking for visitors, it is nonetheless a striking tribute to Filipino piety.

May

Tagbilaran City Fiesta: for nine days leading up to this event, Tagbilaran City begins to celebrate with nightly events such as concerts, dramas, historical re-enactments, and a beauty pageant. The festival comes to a head on the first day of May when an exciting night of revelry ensues.

Bolibong Kingking Festival: taking place on Loboc, this festival celebrates the history and tradition of local folk culture. One of Loboc's patron saints, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is presented to the town with great fanfare and elaborate percussion. The music and dance that accompany this event are not to be missed.

Flores de Mayo: the 'Flowers of May' festival lasts for an entire month. The Virgin Mary is the focal point of these proceedings, and the last day sees a parade of young white-clad women carrying bouquets of flowers along the main streets of each town. Some women masquerade as prominent biblical and canonical figures, headlined by the Reyna Elena, the mother of Constantine. Each day, young girls lay flowers at the Virgin's altar.

June

Independence Day: Bohol celebrates Filipino independence on 12 June, along with the rest of the country. Originally celebrated as Flag Day, a retroactive revision made this the official day of independence for the Philippines. Military-style parades and a great deal of fanfare take place on the streets of Tagbilaran City on this occasion.

July

Sandugo Festival: further celebration surrounding the Sandugo blood pact of 1565 are observed in July to coincide with the Bohol homecoming month known as TBTK. In particular, a street dancing competition is held at this time to commemorate the Sandugo festivities. This is the premier festival in Bohol, lasting the full month of July.

September

National Tourism Day: organisations involved in the tourism industry set aside the third week of September for activities focused on promoting tourism into the region. Multiple activities, expos and fairs are held across towns in Bohol, most of which take place in public schools and at similar venues. A specific theme is applied each year to draw special attention to an interesting facet of local tourism.

November

All Saints Day: on 1 November, Filipinos honour the dead with a series of candle-lit ceremonies at local cemeteries. Some of these proceedings can be quite enthralling as groups sing carols and decorate tombs and gravestones. The festival has aptly been called the Filipino Festival of Lights.

December

Sambat Mascara Y Regatta Festival: St Francis Xavier is the honouree of this winter festival. Festivities are held in Loay, where boat races, musical competitions and costumed street performances steal the stage. Make sure to catch the water parade as it ambles along the river.

Christmas: the entire month of December sees festivals centred on the birth of Christ. This is a season of homecoming and joyous celebrations that focus on family togetherness. These collected festivities (called 'Paskuhan') usually come to a close on New Year's Eve.