Events and celebrations of Paranaque, Philippines

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Events

February

Araw ng Palanyag (Parañaque Day), February 15. Originally set on November30, Araw ng Palanyag or Parañaque Day was moved to January 15 by the City Council to commemorate Parañaque's cityhood anniversary. Usually a week-long affair, the city-wide celebrations include such notable events as the Sambalilo Festival, Regatta de Palanyag, and the Komedya.

Komedya. Aside from being a highlight in the celebrations on the Feast of St. Dionisus, Araw ng Palanyag is also commemorated with stage plays called Komedyas or Moro-Moros where local actors and actresses called Komedyantes and Prinsesas take center stage and do choreographed swordfights and render long poetic verses. The stage plays change plots yearly and depicts 16th-17th century romance, religious conflicts, war, and peace. The Komedya was born in the classic community of San Dionisio. They gained national attention and acclaim when the Komedya garnered the top award in the Board of Travel (now Philippine Tourism Authority) - sponsored first Santacruzan Festival in 1958.

March - April

Semana Santa or Holy Week. Most Paraqueños are keen observers of the lenten season which falls between the months of March and April, just like the rest of most of the Christian world. However, the Parañaque folk, being a religious lot, observe such Lenten activities as Linggo ng Palaspas (Palm Sunday), Pasyon, Sinakulo which is a local version of the Via Crucis, and Salubong or Easter Vigil, with a fervent solemnity that may rarely be witnessed in other Catholic communities.

Linggo ng Palaspas or Domingo de Ramos starts off the Holy Week with the usual metaphorical rendition of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, with the congregation bringing their palm fronds to church so that they may be blessed; they would afterwards bring home the fronds and display them in their altars believing that these will aid in the plea for the forgiveness of sins and that they will bring blessings from above, keep illness away, and ward off evil. But ultimately, the fronds' main purpose is to serve as reminders of Christ’s passion and salvation.

Pasyon or Pabasa. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the Holy Week is the time when the Pasyon or Pabasa, which is the chanting of the Savior’s life, passion, and death (as well as his Resurrection), is held. It is done in chapels and in residences by groups of community elders, usually 24 hours straight, with a peculiar melody which has been very much attached to the ceremony. Although the actual chanting is done by certain individuals shifting from time to time, such activities revolving around the Pasyon as refreshments, shift-scheduling, financing, and the like are accomplished with the complete cooperation of parishioners.

Sinakulo or Via Crucis (Way of the Cross). On Good Friday, parishes all over Parañaque perform the Sinakulo or Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), a street presentation or a stage enactment of Christ’s arrest, mocking, trial, painful way to Calvary (Golgotha), crucifixion, and death on the cross. Verses are recited and sang while colorful costumes reminiscent of Cecil B. DeMille productions are worn accordingly. There are also actual flagellations and nailings to the cross of penitents as expressions of devotion and penance. Performances are superb and have been critically acclaimed even by the most respected Filipino artists and thespians. Even non-devotees are observed to have been moved to tears by the ceremony. And all these are done under the scorching sun of the Philippines' notorious summers!

Salubong (Easter Vigil) and Pasko ng Pagkabuhay (Feast of the Resurrection). The Easter Festivity unfolds at dawn with the traditional Salubong or Easter Vigil, a procession heralding the resurrection of Christ and his reunion with Mary. While the images of Mother and Son are placed side-by-side, a little girl dressed up like an angel replaces the Blessed Virgin’s black veil of grief and mourning with a white one as the osana, a hymn of praise and adoration endemic to Parañaque, is sung. The Feast culminates with the celebration of a Holy Mass followed by the simultaneous rendition in the different barangays of the Sayaw ng Pagbati, a "Welcome Dance" that is also a Parañaque original. After this, the usual Easter ceremonies are held with much joy and celebration in the communities.

May

Labor Day, May 1. Just like the rest of the world, Parañaque celebrates Labor Day with much applomb and celebration. However, unlike those celebrations observed in other places, there are rarely oratories of proletariat advocacies and emancipation of the masses. On the contrary, Paraqueños celebrate Labor Day as the triumph of economic democracy in the city which is known to be a utopia of labor and management cooperation for the sake of progress and prosperity. Demonstrations from the left are unavoidable, but these are very minimal compared to the solidarity manifested by the majority of Paraqueños who consider class struggle as a myth that is irrelevant to their city.

Flores de Mayo. After nine days of prayer, a procession of Sagalas, usually the town’s fairest ladies, is held. Each is assigned a title of Our Lady while the last and most prominent one in the entourage represents Reyna Elena or Queen Helena who found Christ’s cross; the boy escorting her portrays the Queen’s young Constantine. Flores de Mayo is a Spanish term meaning the Flowers of May which figuratively refers to the Sagalas and the offering of flowers to the Blessed Virgin in all the parishes. Ironically, after the offerings, parishioners would then be collecting as much offered flowers as they could gather in the belief that their having been blessed would somehow rub off on them. The Santacruzan is closely associated, sometimes mistaken for and confused with the Flores. Actually, the former is the 9-day period of prayer or novena that comes before the latter. The honor of being Reyna Elena is usually reserved for the family that has volunteered to serve as the major sponsor of the celebration.

Sunduan. The term sunduan is derived from the word sundo which literally means "to fetch" and relates to an old courtship custom of waiting on one’s lady love, accompanying her to the town plaza, and bringing her home. Sunduan is another celebration unique to Parañaque. It conveys the message that Paraqueños are romantics; that their womenfolk are regarded with love and respect; and that Chivalry is alive in Parañaque. But digging deeper into this celebration, the sunduan is another metaphor of Christ's and Mary's ascension to heaven; in this case the young ladies represent the two divinities while the gentlemen take the place of the heavenly spirits. This allegory is strengthened by the fact that although there is no immediate spiritual significance to the ceremony, it is still the parish that usually organizes this event.

Caracol. Barangay Baclaran becomes more alive during the month of May when preparations and the actual celebration of Caracol is observed as a highlight to the township's Feast of Sta. Rita de Cascia, its patron saint. During the affair, Baclaran folk, together with those from the nearby barangays, take to the streets with males wearing drag and females in gentlemen's attire. This merry crowd takes it to task to deliver the august image of Sta. Rita from her shrine in the local parish to Manila Bay and back again in a lengthy procession that signifies renewal of spirit and of devotion to the patron. The merriment would continue unto the twilight hours until such time that the celebrants drop from fatigue and characteristic inebriation for the annual internal change that they go through.

Resources courtesy of the City Information Office, City Hall, Parañaque.

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