Fiesta is one of my favorite things here in the Philippines. It reminds me of one big block party. Each barangay, which is the Filipino term for neighborhood or village, has their very own Fiesta each year. In most cases, Fiestas are in honor of a barangay’s patron saint — each community was assigned a patron saint in the Spanish colonial era to help spread Christianity. Today, Fiesta is still a religious celebration, but also a day full of food, drinks, and lots of videoke (video-karaoke). Family and friends come from far and wide to help celebrate these eventful days.
There is no shortage of food when it comes to fiesta. The spreads consist of rice, lumpia, various dishes of pork and chicken, lechon, and much more. Lechon is everyone’s favorite. The drinks of choice are tuba, emperador, san miguel beer, and red horse. The most popular drink is tuba, but my favorite is red horse. I even created a nickname for myself, “The Red Horse Man.” Let’s not forget about tuba though. Tuba is a homemade wine like liquor that is very popular here in the Philippines. It is made from the sap of coconut trees and then left to age sometimes up to 2 years. Gallons of tuba are consumed during fiesta, mostly by the older men as they sit and chat away from all the ruckus of the women and children.
Towards the end the day, and long into the night, is when the videoke action starts to ring in your ears. Videoke is a lot like karaoke but they play music videos in the background when you videoke. With everyone full of confidence from the all day drinking, the mic hogs begin to show there singing (and non-singing) abilities. I’m in the non-singing ability category, but as some of you know, that doesn’t stop me. The loud videoke songs play on through the night and eventually everyone finds their way home and wait to do it all again next year.
As I said before, Fiesta is one of my favorite things to experience here in the Philippines and so far I have had the chance to attend three Fiestas. My first Fiesta was in Bliss, which is the barangay where the volunteer program office I worked with is located. Volunteer For The Visayans is located in the heart of Bliss and the perfect spot to get to know the neighborhood. Because I got to know so many of the locals, I had a very eventful Fiesta here. Kayla was also able to come along which made it even better. A majority of our time was spent in a make shift hut with our friend Winston and some of his friends. We drank emperador out of a single glass that was passed around the circle. This is a typical drinking session for Filipinos as they have one glass with ice and fill, drink, pass, repeat. After some time there we began our adventures from house to house, stopping along the way for photos with the locals. We snacked at each stop as they ushered us in and insisted we eat. Everyone is so friendly here it is amazing. One of the most memorable parts of the day was singing “Roar” by Katy Perry with a little boy sitting on my lap singing with me. We got our fill of videoke and food and ended our day in Bliss fat and happy.
My second Fiesta was V&G’s block party. V&G is a bigger barangay so we just went to one house this time. Ate Analiza and Kuya Lito invited us to their house for food and drinks. We showed up to an amazing buffet of food. The drink of choice this time was san mig light. The food was delicious and there was even desert, which I didn’t take part in, but Kayla sure liked it. This wasn’t our first time at Ate Analiza’s house but like the times before videoke was the main event. There were hours of singing and laughing. I may have hogged the mic a little but there is just something about screaming into a microphone that makes me happy.
My third Fiesta was in Tanauan, Barangay Atipolo. My friend JR, who is a guard at Kayla’s office, invited me to his house for Fiesta. After an adventurous bike ride through the cemetery and rice terraces we made it to his house. Surrounded by banana trees and rice terraces it was a nice backdrop to celebrate with his family. The drink of choice this time was emperador. While I was the only one drinking emperador, the rest of the group was enjoying gallons of tuba. I’m not sure how many gallons they went through, but it had to be at least five! It was a rainy day, but that didn’t stop the fun. The kids were full of energy and I enjoyed taking picture after picture with them. Next to JR’s house was a pool table where many of the younger men gathered to challenge each other in a match. They play a game called sixty one, which I tried for the first time. I was able to win a few games, but the guy I played against was pretty good. After getting our fill of pool we finished off a few red horse’s and tried to sing videoke. They didn’t have my go-to song (Bohemian Rhapsody), so I called it an early night and caught a Jeepney back home.
All of my experiences at fiesta were amazing. I’m excited to experience more celebrations during our time in the Philippines — in fact, we’re celebrating our barangay’s Fiesta tonight! 🙂