Friday, July 3, 2009

Indigenous Filipino Culture by Paul Manansala

The Art of War

When the Spanish began to colonize the Philippine islands the culture and technology was by no means that far behind most other areas of the world. Indeed, in many areas the Filipinos were quite advanced considering the timeline of the history of science. The metal smith, Panday Piray of Pampanga, was so skilled at weapons making and other types of metal working that the Spanish entrusted him with opening the first Spanish artillery foundry in the country. The Spanish found that the Filipinos made their own small arquebuses, or portable cannons, usually made of bronze. Larger cannons made of iron and resembling culverins provided heavier firepower. The iron cannon at Raha Soliman's house was about 17 feet long and was made from clay and wax moulds.

The most fearsome weapon though was the famed lantaka, or swivel gun. Unlike the Spanish cannons these guns were placed on flexible swivels that allowed the gunner to quickly track a moving target. The lantakas of the Moros gave the Spanish so much trouble that they always included native ships, like the karakoa, equipped with lantakas to counter the Moro weapons. The most impressive lantakas had two revolving barrels. These were eventually exported to South America, and may have become the precursor of the Gatling gun.

Piray started a tradition of high quality metal casting that lasted for centuries in many parts of the Philippines. Many individuals with surnames like Piray, Viray, etc., may have ancestors who were members of the guilds of smiths who followed the Piray lineage. The metal work involving authentic native swords was also of the highest quality. Unfortunately, this fell into disuse among most of the lowlanders of the North. However, the Muslims and animists of the South continued to make very fine kampilans, krisses, etc., that can take many years of work to complete. Sword makers were also astrologers who waited for auspicious conjunctions of planets before proceeding with each elaborate phase of the sword making ritual. The passage of the sword from the maker to the owner was a very mystical ceremony, replete with all types of supernatural beliefs. A well-made kampilan or kris is really one of the finest pieces of handicraft that can be found anywhere. In the North, they also had the kampilan, and another excellent weapon known as the bararao.

In addition to weapons, the Filipinos made good armor for use in the battlefield. The Moros in particular had armor that covered the entire body from the top of the head to the toes. Fortresses known as kuta or kota, and moog were built to protect large communities. These fortresses were protected with the cannons mentioned above. Governor Sande noted that when he asked local Filipinos to contribute their bronze cannons for use against the Moros, he received the equivalent of 400 quintals of bronze (about 21 tons) from an area with a radius of about eight leagues (24 miles). However, the large powerful cannons were more scarce. The fort at Tondo had less arnaments that an average Spanish warship. The problem was the big weapons often required the same complex, lengthy ritualistic procedure in manufacture as swords like the kampilan and the kris. Also, even small firearms were seen as status symbols for datus and rahas and thus, were generally too expensive for the ordinary warrior. However, the main disadvantage suffered by the Filipinos was that their guns were too often turned against themselves in service of "his Catholic majesty."

Although contemporary paintings exist of some Filipino forts, few remains exist. Strangely, in the far eastern corner of Ifugao Province remains of a very ancient fortress have been discovered. The fort had stone walls that averaged several meters in width and about two to three times the width in height. At first it was thought that these were the remains of an unknown Spanish fortress, but advanced dating methods and analysis of the tools, utensils and other artifacts showed that the most likely dating was about 2,000 B.C.

Some of the weaponry concocted by the Filipino was quite unusual. For instance, one weapon was the prototype of the modern yoyo, and it returned to is owner after being flung at an opponent.

People of the Sea

The Filipinos, particularly the Bisayans, impressed the Spanish with their navigational skills. Some Filipinos used a type of compass similar to that found among the people of Borneo and the Chinese, although most had no need for such devices. They used sailing techniques native to the ancient Malayo-Polynesian people. Some of the fishermen and traders in the Bisayas, Mindanao, Sulu and other areas of the Philippines can still navigate long distances over open water without modern instruments. The Philippine ships were of excellent quality and continued to be of great use to the Spaniards who included armed Karakao, or korkoa, and other vessels not only in expeditions against rebellious or resistant Filipinos, but also against intruding Dutch and British forces. The karakao was a rowed vessel with small rowing canoes placed under each outrigger. It's name is related to the korokoro of Indonesia, the kolik and kurakura of Malaysia, the kelakela of Tikopia, kel or gel of Anuda, and the kel of Pak. Some of the larger rowed vessels held up to a hundred rowers on each side besides a contigent of armed troops. Generally the larger vessels held at least one lantaka at the front of the vessel with an additional one sometimes placed at the stern.

The Philippine sailing ships, or praos, shown in La Perouse's drawings had double sails that seemed to rise well over a hundred feet from the surface of the water. Despite their large size these canoes also had double outriggers. Some larger sailing vessels mentioned by Antonio De Morga and others did not use outriggers. All the commentators agreed that the Filipinos had first contact were engaged in long-range trading with their Asian neighbors. The various kingdoms of the islands ranged as far West as the Maldives on the southwest coast of India and as far north as Japan. A more controversial issue is whether the Filipinos had regular contact with the peoples of Western Micronesia. The earliest Spaniards commented on how peoples from both regions would regularly be blown from one region to another. Occasionally if they were skilled navigators they could possibly make their way back, while ordinary fishermen and the like probably had to settle in their new home. Whether regular contacts once existed is a difficult question, but Western Micronesia is one the only area in Oceania that had rice crops at European contact. They also chewed betel nut, and fermented coconut sap into wine, which is called tuba as in the Philippines. An interesting connection between the Philippines and the Southeast is the uncanny resemblance of complex body tatoos among the Bisayans and the Maori of New Zealand (Aotearoa). Legazpi describes one of the "Moro" pilots captured from Butuan "...a most experienced man who had much knowledge, not only of matters concerning these Filipinas Islands, but those of Maluco, Borney, Malaca, Jaba, India, and China, where he had had much experience in navigation and trade." (Blair and Robertson, Vol. II, p. 116.)

The Kapampangans were said to have continued their trade with Batavia until the start of the galleon trade compelled the Spanish to take control of all commerce. Indeed, at one point Filipinos were not even allowed to go out of their villages to trade.

The Philippines was also an active trading center itself before the coming of the Spanish. Pigafetta mentions that merchants and ambassadors from all the surrounding areas came to pay tribute to the king of Cebu for the purpose of trade. Indeed, while Magellan's crew were with the king a representative from Siam was paying tribute. Legazpi wrote how merchants from Luzon and Mindoro had come to Cebu for trade, and that they had mentioned how Chinese merchants regularly came to the north for the same purpose.

The Barangay

The word, barangay, usually means to modern Filipinos the basic social unit into which communities are divided. However, the barangay is also the name of an oceanic vessel that was used for trade, and also apparently for migration. At Butuan in Northern Mindanao, a spectacular find of barangay vessels was made in the mid-seventies. One of these ships dated back to the 4th century, the oldest find of its kind in the Austronesian region. Some of these boats were associated with T'ang Dynasty pottery, the oldest to be found in the Philippines to date. In the same area, skeletons were found with burial artifacts including wooden coffins and various trade items.


The Filipinos were skilled in all types of fishing and fisheries. In the south, the basnig, a Viking-like ship, was and is the vessel of choice among the Bisayans for ocean fishing. The salambao is a type of raft that utilizes a large fishing net which is lowered into the water via a type of lever made of two criss-crossed poles. Night fishing was accomplished with the help of candles similar to the copal of Mexico. These candles were made from a particular type of resin. Fish corrals, like the ones still used today, were also employed by the ancient Filipino. However, the area in which the Filipino most astonished Westerners was in their advanced aquaculture:

"To the early Spaniards, the pisciculture of the Filipinos was regarded almost as a new art, so much more advanced it was than fish breeding methods in Europe." (Commercial Progress in the Philippine Islands, Antonio M. Regidor and J. Warren T. Mason, 1905)

Many have looked to Japan for an explanation for these advanced methods. The roe was transplanted to safe pens for incubation and to guard the small fry from predators. Only when sufficiently mature to fend for themselves were they released back into the wild. These days this method is practiced by fisheries throughout the world. Before the Spanish came, the Filipinos also only used large mesh nets when fishing in rivers, lakes or in the sea. This ecologically sound practice protected the young ensuring future good catches. However, the competition brought by the Spaniards resulted in the use of such small mesh nets that the Spanish themselves eventually had to regulate the nets to prevent the destruction of the fisheries.

Jewelry, Metal Work and Mining

Mines dating back to at least 1,000 B.C. have been found in the Philippines. When the Spanish arrived the Filipinos worked various mines of gold, silver, copper and iron. They also seemed to have worked in brass using tin that was likely imported from the Malay Peninsula. The iron work in particular was said to be of very high quality in some cases, and occassionaly in some areas, even better than that found in Europe.

When the Spanish arrived, the Philippines was so gilded with gold that most of the gold mines had been neglected. According to De Morga:

"... the natives proceed more slowly in this ,and content themselves with what they already possess in jewls and gold ingots handed down from antiquity and inherited from their ancestors. This is considerable, for he must be poor and wrethced who has no gold chains, calombigas, and earrings."

However, things seem to already diminished from Pigafetta's time:

"On the island [Butuan] where the king came to the ship, pieces of gold as large as walnuts or eggs are to be found, by sifting the earth. All the dishes of the king are of gold, and his whole house is very well set up."

Pigafetta goes on to describe the huge gold ornaments, gold dagger handles, tooth plating and even gold that was used to decorate the outside of houses! On the gold work of the Filipinos is this description of the people of Mindoro:

"...they possess great skill in mixing it [gold] with other metals. They give it an outside appearance so natural and perfect, and so fine a ring, that unless it is melted they can deceive all men, even the best of silversmiths."

Apparently, even foreigners desired Filipino gold products. Recent discoveries show that gold jewelry of Philippine origin was found in Egypt near the beginning of the era. These finds are mentioned in Laszlo Legeza's "Tantric elements in pre-Hispanic Philippines Gold Art," (Arts of Asia, Jul-Aug 1988, p. 131) along a discussion of Philippine Tantric art. Some outstanding examples of Philippine jewelry, which included necklaces, belts, armlets and rings placed around the waist, are showcased in J. T. Peralta's "Prehistoric gold ornaments from the Central Bank of the Philippines," Arts of Asia 1981, no.4, p.54.

The Filipinos also made jewelry of carnelian, agate and other precious stones, and of course, they were known for their coveted pearl industry.

The Filipinos made metal implements like the sumpak of carabao horn and silver, a sort of fire piston, and the kalikot, of ebony and silver, for pounding betel nuts into powder. Excellent gongs were made of various metals. These gongs were often used as clocks, and Dampier and other visitors to the Moro kingdom tell of the regular sounding of the gongs to mark the hours of day and night. So far no evidence exists, that I am aware of, that the Filipinos possessed the copper water clocks of the Moluccas or Bali.

Metal vessels were made and some interesting copper vessels have been found in the Itogon-Bua area of Mountain province. Sacred drums were also sometimes cast in metal. For some reason, Filipinos rarely seemed to have made agricultural tools from metal. They had quite an array of hammers, chisels, mullers and the like but usually made of stone or wood. Possibly iron, copper and brass were too valuable for use as weapons, and ceremonial gongs, drums, vessels and the like.

In discussing metal work, it is interesting to note that discoveries made at Ban Chiang in Thailand included the earliest dates for bronze found anywhere in the world. While these dating have been challenged by specialists in other fields, the original testers, Western and Thai, stand by their datings. This, along iron finds much older than the previous estimated start of the SE Asian Iron Age, have radically changed views of this region.


The ancient Filipino engaged in pottery making from very ancient times. Many of the important pottery traditions that spread into the Oceania region had their counterparts in the Philippines including the well-known Lapita culture. This quote from Wilhelm Solheim illustrates the matter:

"I hypothesize that the Sa-huynh Kalanay and Lapita pottery traditions had a common origin somewhere in the Palawan-Sarawak-Sulu Sea-Sulawesi area and that it was at this point in time and space that a second and main stage in the spread of the Austronesian languages began."

The finds at Ayub Cave in South Cotabato again verified the great pottery tradition of the Philippines. In terms of quantity and quality, these artifacts have no match in Southeast Asia for such an early time period.

One interesting question is whether or not the Philippines ever developed an export industry for pottery. Generally it is known that the Thais had developed quite a flourishing industry, which is sometimes considered unique in SE Asia. However, it is well-documented that the Philippines was in fact a major destination of pottery buyers from the islands of Japan at least. Japanese texts mention trading expeditions to the island of Rusun (Luzon) going well back before the Spanish period. What they sought were the highly-prized Rusun and Namban jars. In fact, these jars were far more precious than gold to the Japanese because of their ability to act as tea canisters. Japanese texts were very specific about these jars being made in Luzon. The Tokiko, for example, calls the Rusun and Namban jars, Ru-sun tsukuru or Lu-sung ch'i (Chinese), which means simply "made in Luzon." The only question is whether the pottery makers were Filipinos trained in the Chinese art, or local Japanese or Chinese, or a combination of both.

In the Tokiko it mentions that all Rusun jars had this marking known as the rokuru (wheel mark). Those familar with Philippine ethnography will know that this spiral is commonly used by many of the Philippine tribes.
The following symbols were used to identify which kiln was used to make the jar: identified "Imbe" jars, meant jars coming from Bizen kiln, and mark three times meant a canister from the same oven. A jar with this mark is said to be made of Namban clay. This marking corresponds to the syllable la in Pampanga; Tagbanua for ka ("Chinese Pottery," Field Museum of Natural History-Anth., vol.xii, Jul.1912)

Of course, the symbol for la can also be the same as that for lu, and so this might correspond to the symbol said to stand for Lu in Rusun-no kokuji (Luzon national writing). According to the Tokiko, certain types of Rusun jars were distinguished by this character. De Morga mentions that Japanese traders were still coming in large numbers for these jars during his time, and that they were willing to spend great sums for them. Apparently work on these jars continued in the North, possibly among the unconquered Igorots, for De Morga had no knowledge of such current production. Later, the knowledge may have again trickled down to Vigan, where a flourishing industry of Burnay jar manufacture survives to this day. Although the Japanese described very high quality jars coming from the Philippines, not all were of elegant nature.

In fact, De Morga had some disdain for some of the jars that the Japanese were buying, so they could have been similar to the well-known balanga and other jars in use today. These jars are generally handed down as heirlooms and are noted for their qualities in enhancing the fermentation process. Possibly one of the Japanese uses for the Rusun jars was fermentation of products like Kombucha and Umeboshi plums. Indeed a Japanese acquaintance stated that their family in rural Japan used old Rusun jars for exactly this purpose up to this day.

Another interesting type of pottery was the "dragon jar." Although these jars shown certain Chinese or Japanese influence, no kiln from China or elsewhere has yet been discovered that produced these jars (to the author's knowledge). Indeed, no true samples of these jars have even been found in China! However, even many of the humblest tribal families possessed at least one of these jars in some areas of the Philippines. These are very fine works and are a tribute to the makers, who likely resided in the Philippines, if not Filipinos themselves. It should be noted that the Japanese were very careful about classification of pottery. Even in foreign countries like Korea, they were careful to distinguish the differences between indigenous Korean and imported Chinese-school pottery made in Korea. In the case of the Rusun and Namban jars, they distinctly classified them as local manufactures.

Agriculture and Livestock

The Filipinos were great agriculturists. A report during the time of Legazpi noted:

" [Luzon] has a great abundance of rice, fowls, and wine, as well as great numbers of buffaloes, deer, wild boar and goats; it also produces great quantities of cotton and colored clothes, wax, and honey; and date palms abound." (Blair and Roberson, vol.xxxiii, p.207.)

Another early report on the Bisayas noted that: "rice, cotton, great numbers of swine and fowls, wax, and honey are produced in great abundance. (Ibid, vol.V, p. 83)." Leyte was said to produce two rice crops a year, and Pedro Chirino commented on the great rice and cotton harvests that were sufficient to feed and cloth the people.

The Filipinos practiced a form of duck culture around Pateros and Tagig in Rizal that resembled that of the Chinese. This included methods of artificial incubation of eggs, and the tradition was carried on until modern times. Indeed, this is quite an advanced science which requires intimate knowledge of every phase of a duck's life.


The houses of chiefs and other ruler's in the Philippines was said to be impressive: "They are built upon trees and thick arigues, with many rooms and comforts. They are well constructed of timber and planks, and are strong and large. They are furnished and supplied with all that is necessary , and are much finer and more substantial than the others." (Blair and Roberson, vol.xvi, p.84)

As stated earlier, the early Filipinos even went as far as to decorate their houses with gold. However, the Spanish soon put a halt to this practice. As is the case in Borneo, the use of timber in architecture has left few remains of even the most grand Raja's palaces. Only people in some of the far northern islands like the Ivatans build stone typhoon proof houses because of their geographical situation along the typhoon belt. However, everywhere in the Philippines all houses, stone or wood, chief or commoner, used thatch for roofs.

The stone walls, canals, dams and reservoirs of the Igorots can also be considered as type of architecture, or at least stone engineering. The amount of stones used by the Igorots in their hydraulic engineering works is estimated to far exceed in bulk those used in building the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China. Many of these walls and canals are thousands of years old and have withstood countless typhoons and the effects of Sun, wind and time.

One of the last examples of native wooden bridges met a natural end some time ago, but a photo of it is still available in Masferre's works.


The Filipinos were said to be excellent wood carvers, and most of their sculpture was in wood. The carvings consisted mainly of small anitos for the household, or for mostly small religious structures known as simbahan. In some cases, fine carvings like the sarimanok were to be found. Unfortunately, wood carvings like wood architecture rarely survives the march of time. As many of the native arts suffered due to colonization, it is impossible to determine what level the lowlanders reached in these arts. The gold Butuan Tara statue may be an example of indigenous Buddhist art from period long forgotten. We should remember, though, that even the great monuments of Borobodur in Java were unknown to the inhabitants when they were rediscovered, and the natives were surprised to learn that Buddhism had ever been practiced there. Other Hindu and Buddhist statues of Avalokesvara and Ganesa have also been recovered in the Philippines.


The textile industry is one in which the Philippines has long acted as an exporter. The early Spanish noted that the Filipinos knew had to raise, spin and weave cotton and silk. Lace-making and embroidery were widely practiced often with superb results. Besides cotton, abaca fiber and banana leaf fiber was also used. The native silk was known as pina. The woven works of the Philippines, particularly from the Muslims and animists of the South are now receiving long overdue attention from the international community.

Other Industries

Other Pre-Spanish Filipino industries included the manufacture of liquors and vinegars like tuba, basi, etc., the production of hides for export to Japan, export of edible bird's nests from Northern Palawan to China, the raising and trade of civet cats, the manufacture of gunpowder, the making of wax for export to China, and the making of cotton stockings for export.

Mathematics, Astronomy and Calendric Science

There is insufficent space to go into details here since no written traditions exist, and one must piece together details like a detective. The Filipinos had a rather sophisticated system of counting and weights and measurement. They used a decimal counting system, but also systems based on other numbers. They had names for various types of numbers much larger than the myriad used in Europe until fairly modern times. They also used mnenomic aids like the runo counters of the Ifugao in making mathematical calculations. Sometimes, shells or pebbles were stacked in heaps or used with boards like the Sungka to aid in calculations.

The Filipinos were avid astronomers and astrologers. The Ifugao, for example, were said to possess the world's most perfect calendar (See Beyer, Otley, "Ifugaos using world's most perfect calender." Philippine Free Press, 26 July 1924.) There is much evidence that the Filipino knew the difference between the tropical year, as determined by the Sun's declination, and the sidereal year, as determined by the helical rising of stars. The Igorots of Sagada used stone calenders to mark the Sun's declination in a manner similar to some great ancient monuments of the world. The declination fix is known as gadagad. The movement of the planets was well known among many tribes as was the helical rising and setting of the stars. The stars were also used as clocks at night, while the Sun was used during the day. In addition to using the rising and setting of the stars as a night clock, the Aetas and others used the Southern Cross like one would use a modern timepiece, while the Ifugao used Monliwotan (The Winder), or the Big Dipper.

Also, the star rising when he Sun vanished was known as the Pauwit star and it was used just like the Sun during the day in telling time. There is even a legend of how the Pauwit star takes the place of the Sun. The ancient Filipinos also knew that the time given by the Sun and stars changed when one moved east or west, or even north and south, just like the Micronesians and other Oceanic peoples. The Igorot chants, for example, always give the solar time according to place, and the Micronesian navigators knew that the difference in rising time between two stars with different declinations was different at varying latitudes.

Writing and Education

The literacy of the Filipinos astonished the Spanish. Morga states about the native script: "Almost all the natives, both men and women, write in this language. There are very few who do not write it excellently and correctly." This was very different than the situation in Europe were the it was mostly the elite that were literate. The writing was done on palm-leaves with a pen with an iron point. It was only later they adopted the European quill, although eventually everyone began using the Filipino method of iron points again.

It may be that there were at least two types of script used in the Philippines -- one for the commoner and one for the elite. The commoner script was highly successful in that the masses were able to learn and use it quickly. The evidence of a more sophisticated script comes in the finding of the Laguna Copper Plate Grant. This script was similar to Kawi of Indonesia and could represent many more sounds. Yet another script found in the islands is the that of the Eskaya tribe. There is an article in the September 1991 issue of Mabuhay magazine that discussed this tribe and their forgotten script.

According to the article, the Eskaya, who live on the island of Bohol, speak a language unrelated to the Boholano or Cebuano dialects. They use a script, which is described as logographic, having 46 symbols representing sound syllables rather than alphabets. The symbols are based on parts of the human anatomy. The article states that the script was similar to that of the Phoenicians, which would actually make it logo-syllabic rather than logographic. The use of 46 syllables shows that it was a rather sophisticated language.

The article claims that the script and some documents in this language had been preserved by Mariano Datahan from a Spanish edict that all writing in the language should be burned. They were passed on to Fabian Baha, the present leader of the tribe(as of 1991) in 1947. Today, the Eskaya continue to teach the children their script and traditions. In fact, the article claims that scholars and linguists are also studying the Eskaya language and script in hopes of obtaining clues as to the ancestor of the modern Bisayan languages. The Eskaya claim to have come originally from Western Sumatra, from whence they sailed to Bohol in 677 AD. They claim that Sikatuna and Dagohoy were also from the Eskaya tribe. They have many legends concerning their own culture hero who is known as Tamblot. As of 1991, there were 130 families of Eskaya living in Bohol.


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Indigenous Filipino Religious Belief

Paul Manansala


Any simple attempt at describing the belief systems native to the Filipino is likely to be inadequate. The religious beliefs were as varied as the languages of the country. However, there were certain areas of common ground that existed among many of the peoples throughout the islands. In this webpage, we will try to organize some of these core beliefs an present as much as possible a Philippine system, or systems, of belief and cosmology. The problem is somewhat complicated by the fact that the native savants, like those found among other Malayo-Polynesian peoples, were highly secretive. Specialists in the field often complained after lifetimes of research that they had not uncovered much of the native knowledge. Their reasons for these beliefs usually stemmed from the fact that they often would hear the names of new deities, concepts, beliefs, etc., or of chants, sometimes epic in nature, even after their informants had assured them of divulging all their knowledge. Also, generally the most respected hierophants were often uncooperative with non-initiates.

While many early Western works focused on "juicy" anthropological items like human sacrifice, etc., these often lead to stereotyped views of Philippine beliefs. For example, among the Kankanai Igorots, the dog was almost worshipped, in a manner similar to other tribes throughout the Malay archipelago; some of whom even gave their dogs amulets to wear against sickness and danger. However, among some neighboring Igorot tribes, the dog, while considered sacred, is killed and eaten during sacrifices. This has been a source of some hostility even among these Igorot peoples who live close to one another. Throughout the Philippines, there was a great diversity of belief. Just as one cannot say that the torturing of heretics by the Grand Inquisitioner, the practice of conversion by sword, the slaughter of infidel women and children during the Crusades, and the robbing of Jews during the pogroms are characteristic of Christianity, one cannot casually stereotype Philippine beliefs.

Besides, it is unwise, in most cases, to judge others except by the their own standards. For example, the slaughter and eating of cows would be considered a great evil by many orthodox Hindus. It would quite literally be the mark of savages. Yet, Hindus generally do not use this standard when judging non-Hindus. So, with this, let us proceed.

Belief in Supreme God

While there somewhat of a trend going on in the ethnological circles claiming that widespread monotheistic beliefs found among many tribal peoples were due to the influence of diffusion, or by forced interpretation by missionaries, the belief in a Supreme God seems to be one of the most natural and simplest of beliefs. Indeed, very little evidence has been mustered in support of this theory and it remains simple conjecture.

In the Philippines, the record of the Spanish, and the surviving indigenous traditions leave little doubt that the Filipinos had a belief in a Supreme Creator God. The name of this god varied depending on what region is discussed. Among some of the names are: Bathala, Diwata, Kabunian, Mansilatan, Makaptan, Laon, Lumauig, Mamarsua, Tuhan, etc.

The Creator God was almost always said to be invisible, or without form, and as such, images of the deity were not generally made. The name was considered sacred, and very rarely uttered, usually only in sacred rituals by special initiates. This same phenomenon occurs widely throughout the Malay Archipelago. Generally, the Supreme God was seen as distant and too involved in higher matters for direct worship. Instead, a lower class of deities, who, like humans, were also created, were the principle objects of prayer, supplication and ritual. However, sacrifices, offerings and rituals aimed at the Supreme God were no unknown, and they were usually reserved for emergency-type situations as among the Bagobo, or in very special annual rites.

The lower gods were known by names like diwa, diwata, tuhan and anito. As in many shamanistic cultures, these deities were divided into benefic and malefic categories. A sort of cosmic dualism was ever present in which humans and other earthly beings were also involved. However, the malefic deities were not generally seen as enemies and were often supplicated themselves. Their role in bringing harm to earthly beings was seen as having a special significance in the cosmic scheme of things. While a sort of battle between good and evil did exist, this was primarily between the beings of earth and the lower realms. In this conflict, the shaman/priest acted as the primary defender in native society. He/she sought the aid of the benefic deities against the malevolent lower spirits, or the appeasement of the malefic deities. In special cases, the shaman/priest even appealed to the Supreme Deity.
Philippine Trinity

Among some of the Filipinos, a belief existed that paralleled many ways the idea of the Trinity in Christianity, the Trimukha in Hinduism and the Trikaya in Buddhism. Filipino historian, Pedro Paterno, discusses these beliefs in his work, El Cristianismo en la antigua civilization tagalog; contestacion al M.R.P. Fr. R. Martinez Virgil de la Orden de predicadores, obispo de Oviedo. In another book entitled, Our Islands, and their People, Paterno states: "When Christianity was being introduced into the islands, it was found that there were words in the language of the Filipinos capable of expressing all the higher spiritual phases and doctrines of the Christian religion." In such systems, Bathala, Diwata, Kabunian, etc., were not seen as the Supreme Creator, but as the son of that God. Usually, the Supreme God was associated with langit or the heavens and sky, while Bathala, Diwata, Kabunian et al, were connected with the Sun, the heir of the sky. The third component in this trinity was a type of pantheistic spirit or body that was sometimes known as Laon. Many Filipino peoples had a concept of different bodies or souls for each individual. The highest of these souls was sometimes made part of a collective universal body that pervaded all things.

While one may be tempted to connect this with Indian influence, which certainly is possible, similar beliefs exist in Oceania, the system in Hawai'i being particularly well-known. The interesting thing concerning the ideas of the Supreme God and the son of this God is that neither is given any form, nor or images usually made of them, and neither are given any heavenly spouses. The Supreme God is not usually given any sex, and this may be one reason that investigators often received confusion answers when inquiring on this matter. Bathala, Diwata, Kabunian et al are generally seen as male, but without spouses. Thus, there was very little corporal conception of these deities, unlike the lower created gods.


Many of the Philippine peoples viewed the cosmos as consisting of multiple heavens or universes each without form or boundary. In a way these were similar to modern concepts of dimensions. These heavens were not stacked one upon the other, although a different stacked heaven concept also existed. The other heavens or universes existed in different realities and thus there was no thought of them occupying the same space. Though infinite they did not come into contact with one another.

Among the Igorots there existed the concept of Skyland, of the upstream and downstream regions. Travel from one region to another by gods and men was a common occurence in Igorot epics. Among many of the southern tribes, the horizon, particularly the ascendant or descendant, marked the portals of heaven. Creation myths exist in the Philippines, one of the better known being the Iloko Demiurge discussed by Calip. Mamarsua, or Namarsua, is the creator who by thought and action produces Parsua which can refer to humankind, or to the created universe as a whole. Man, is found to be a microcosm of the universe in the Iloko Demiurge.

Often in the interaction between heaven and earth, there is a ladder, or bridge, or sea that one uses to pass from one region to another. A common motif found throughout the Philippines is that of a mixed union between persons from both the skyworld and earth in which the child of the union is eventually divided creating various heavenly phenomena. Hell in the Philippines went under a variety of names including Kasanaan. It was the abode of demons and those who had done evil on earth. Like heaven, it also was the destination of journeys in the native mythology.


The ancient Filipinos believed, like many animistic peoples, that all objects had spirits or were inhabited by such. Even seemingly inanimate objects like rocks, mountains, lakes, etc., and natural phenomena like wind, thunder and fire were said to be inhabited by particular spirits, or to be governed by certain gods. Indeed, even in "organized" religions like Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism and Buddhism such concepts also exist. In India, mountains, rivers and even oceans are said to be gods like Himavat (Himalayas), Ganga (Ganges River), and Saraswati (Saraswati River). The concept of spirits like the devas and yakshas inhabiting trees, which is found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, is also widely attested to in the Philippines. In ancient times, Filipinos made offerings to particular trees that were thought to be the habitation of benevolent deities, or even certain ancestral spirits. Other trees were thought to house malevolent spirits, and care was taken to avoid sleeping under these trees.

Not surprisingly, the Filipino belief in animism also supported widespread concept of totemism, in which humans had certain kindred animal spirits. The snake was an important totem being used frequently as a symbol, as among the Igorots, as also as a guardian for certain types of priest like the tauak of the Tagalogs. The crocodile and a variety of omen birds like the balatiti (Tagalog), batala (Kapampangan), haya (Bikol), salaksak (Ilokano, Sambal), etc., were also considered sacred in certain regions.

The forces of nature were often addressed respectfully using the term, Apo. . For example, the Ilokanos addresed the rain as Apo Tudo 'Lord Rain," Apo Init, "Lord Sun," and even Apo Pagay "Lord Palay (the rice plant)." Of course, Apo was also used to address the Supreme God, as among the Kapampangan who use Apo Guino "Lord God," or the Ilokano, Apo Langit "Lord Heaven." As stated early, the Supreme God was often associated with the heavens, while the Son of Heaven was symbolized by the Sun. In this sense, the Son of Heaven does have a wife, as the Sun is usually said to be the husband of the wife in Philippine religious belief. This cosmic pair was apparently very important in the faith of Filipinos throughout the archipelago. The union of the two celestial bodies at the New Moon, and their opposition at the Full Moon had great spiritual significance, and it was from this that the Filipinos derived their concepts of cosmic balance.


Practically all the early Filipinos had a belief in the afterlife. Generally, it was believed the good went to heaven, or its Philippine equivalent, while the evil went to hell. The very widespread belief that heaven and hell were divided into different levels was also found in the Philippines. Which region one goes to depends on different factors. Among the Bagobo, for example, those who die accidental deaths all go to a particular heaven, or hell. Usually, whether ones goes to heaven or hell, the individual is able to work up to higher levels and is not condemned for eternity to stay in one place. Merit, or self-improvement is the usual way of rising to the next level, although in some cases something like purgatory exists.

However, in many cases, there was a belief that each individual had more than one soul. Among the Bagobo, each person had a right-hand soul and a left-hand soul. The right-hand soul was the good side of the individual and went to heaven after death. The left-hand soul was the evil in each person and at death it went either to the underworld, or stayed on earth to vex the living. The Ilokanos believed in three sould in the body. The eternal soul that continued after death was known as Kararwa according to Calip, while Alingaas the soul that is found at places one has been previously; and Karma the soul that inhabits the living body. Sometimes, Karma is seen as a vapor that leaves the body either as an invisible vapor or in the form of an insect travelling to far places. Sometimes, the karma even left the body while the individual was awake. For example, those returning from the forest would make recitation Intayon, Intayon, or Intayon kaddua, while striking the chest with the palm, invoking the Karma to return from the forest to the body.

Sometimes, the good soul, rather than ascending to heaven, would take residence in a local tree or similar spot to watch over their loved ones, or take care of unfinished business. There also existed an idea of dying persons leaving a "portion" of themselves with other family members, followers or students. For example, if a person is born near the time of the death of relative, and that person happens to have some characteristics of the deceased relative, then the child is said to have received a portion of the deceased's spirit. Likewise, if a child is so sick that appears that it will not survive, but then it happens that someone in the family, or close to the family, dies while the baby survives, the child is said to have been saved by part of the deceased's spirit. The Filipinos, or some of the Igorot peoples, at least, seem to have had some belief in a type of resurrection. The Benguet Igorots, for example, have long practiced a form of mummification. These ancient mummies with tatoos still visible were placed in wooden coffins after a process of smoking on a papag and treatment with special herbs. The common theme in Philippine belief systems is that not only are God and the diwa immortal, but all souls are also immortal. They all eventually work their way up to the highest heaven, which usually is the one right below that inhabited by the Supreme God.


The ancient Filipino saw life as a struggle. Forces were in place to make life difficult, and temptations to do evil were ever present. Humans must struggle to conquer sickness and poverty, but at the same time must live good lives in order to avoid going to lower worlds after death. While there exist evil forces to put obstacles in our way, we are also assisted by the spirits of our ancestors, and the diwata or anito. These spirits were said to assist God and to be in charge of different activity and phenomena. Thus, seafarers had their own special anito as did farmers. In extreme cases, an individual, and particularly a community would even call upon the Supreme God to help them in times of need. However, this was only done sparingly as not to offend the Deity.

Sometimes, though, God takes a more active role in human affairs. Among the Livunganen-Arumanens, for example, Kerenen, the Highest Diwata, is not only creator, sustainer and ruler of the world, but as Memintaran he inspires the people to right action and speech. For the righteous, he created the paradise, Suruga, while the wicked were banished to Nereka, although after sometime they also would find their place in Suruga. In some cases, as in the epic, Ulahingan, mortals were able to enter Suruga without first having undergone death.

God was seen as the great judge. Kabunian, in particular, was seen as the all-seeing Judge, and thus, his association with the Sun is understable. And as judge, God was thus also the redeemer for those who had been wronged.

Ritual and Practice

A brief sketch of some indigenous Filipino religious practice will now be given. The spiritual side of life pervaded every facet of daily living. Rituals were often performed for even the most mundane tasks like cleaning the pig pen. Omens were constantly watched for, especially before long journeys or the start of important enterprises. The stars to were consulted for auspicious times. Among certain Igorot tribes, certain stars would have to come in line with the Moon before important events like hunting expeditions, battles, sacrifices, etc.

While many Filipino tribes practiced blood sacrifice, more common were bloodless offerings like the betel quid, or palm leaf books with prayers, supplication, praises, etc., written down by the worshipper over a period of time. The vegetal offerings were usually allowed to perish naturally, while the prayer books were offered by fire on a special sacred stones or stone altars (batong buhay). Other types of altars made of split bamboo posts, coconut husks, wooden tables, jars, split canes and hanging plates were also used for offerings. Sometimes small boats were made on which feasts were prepared for the deity, and the boat sent out to sea towards the horizon.

The Filipino "temple" was known as the simbahan among the Tagalogs, tenin among the Tirurai, buis among the Bagobo, etc., etc. These structures were often temporary in nature and usually small, although when they were attached to chief's houses, they could be large enough for great feasts involving the whole barangay. These may have been similar to the long houses used for worship from Indonesia to Polynesia. Among the Igorots there still remain megalithic communal stone platforms known as ato that are sometimes used for religious ceremonies. The paved platforms are usually surrounded by a wall of upright stones a few feet high, with stone backrests known as handagan, stone seats arranged to form either a square, triangle or circle, large upright stones that may be phallic symbols, and very large flat stones. There are also stone circles with low walls known as dap-ays that are now mostly as used as meeting-places for the elders. Even more interesting are the remains of an ancient pyramid near Mt. Tenongchol, with only the base remaining intact. What makes this find even more fascinating are the hundreds of mummies of the Benguet Igorots in the surrounding caves. Shades of ancient Egypt!

There existed a belief that amulets known as anting-anting gave the possessor unique powers, or made them invincible. One of the commonest powers of the anting-anting is to protect one from iron weapons. Such beliefs are found in Indonesia also, and in special ceremonies individuals will allow themselves to attacked with knifes, or even shot with firearms! We will not delve into the authenticity of these rituals, but they demonstrate the type of belief that surrounds the anting-anting. In some cases, special operations were formed in which the anting-anting were implanted under the skin.

For the Filipino, every facet life was considered sacred. The jars used for fermenting liquor or foods, the tatoos of the Bisayans and Igorots, the weapons of war, everything. Even sex had special spiritual significance. Peculiar phallic devices, also found among other Malays, and known among the Kapampangans as curicung were widespread among the Filipinos. According to the Boxer Codex, there were at least 30 different types of these devices, each with name sacred in the native language. The Spanish also mentioned a type of "circumcision" that was practiced for the purpose of enhancing sexuality. This rite, though, was also considered sacred and it was not associated with immorality.

The Filipinos often resorted to divination to ascertain the will of the gods, or the winds of fate. Mediums and oracles were consulted, women usually playing this role. Male priests conducted divination by casting lots, observing omens, and similar devices. The Dado dice of the Ayta now used largely for gambling are examples of Filipino lots. The Dado have representations of four constellations: Kalawan, Bayi, Peho and Dem on four of its six sides. Such divination often took place during the many festivals and rituals practiced by the ancients. These festivals could range from festivity rites, in which offerings were made and dances were performed in the fields; to rituals for good health, in which the community went for a sacred bath in the river were they would often sprinkle themselves with bundles of sacred herbs dipped in the river. The possibilities for such festivals were endless, and this feature of Filipino society carried on even after the arrival of the Spanish.

Selected References
BENITEZ, Conrado, History of the Philippines,, 1929, Boston.BLAIR, Emma Helen and James Roberson Alexander, The Philippine Islands 1493-1895, 55 vol., 1973, Manila.ESPINAS, Phoebe T. "The Folk Astronomy of the Ayta of San Marcelino," National Museum Papers, vol. 4, no.1, 1993.GAGELONIA, Pedro A., The Filipinos of Yesteryears,, 1967, Manila. KROEBER, A., "Philippine Religious Nomenclature," Anthropological papers American Musuem of Natural History, vol.xix, 1918.NOCEDA, J. de & P. de Sanlucar, Vocabulario de la Tagala, 1860, Manila.PARDO DE TAVERA, T.H., "History of the Philippines," IN Census of the Philippines, 1903, vol 1.PATERNO, Pedro A., El Cristianismo en la antigua civilization tagalog; contestacion al M.R.P. Fr. R. Martinez Virgil de la Orden de predicadored obispo de Oviedo, 1892, Madrid.SILLIMAN, Robert, Religious beliefs and life at the beginning of the Spanish regime in the Philippines: readings, 1964, Dumaguete City.

Bits and Pieces of Philippine Geography and Culture


Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces has been described as the eighth wonder of the world. Carved out of the hillside by Ifugao tribes people 2000 to 3000 years ago without the aid of machinery to provide level steps where the natives plant rice. And they are still in use today. In 1995, they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Banaue Rice Terraces stretch like stepping stones to the sky - some reaching an altitude of 1500m (4920ft). It is considered as one of mankind's greatest engineering feat. If the terraces were laid end to end, they would stretch half way around the world. Aside from Banaue rice terraces, nearby are 4 other similar Ifugao terraces:

· BATAD rice terraces. Also located in Banaue, it is home to the spectacular tiered, amphitheatre-shaped terraces.
· MAYOYAO rice terraces is similarly situated in Banaue. The organic Ifugao rice called Tinawon, in red and white variety, is harvested here in abundance.
· HAPAO rice terraces. Its stone-walled rice terraces date back to 650 AD and is located in Hungduan, where Napulawan terraces can also to be found.
· KIANGAN rice terraces. It is home to two famous rice terraces sites namely: Nagacadan and Julungan, known for their size and visual impact.

Panagbenga Festival

The Panagbenga Festival is held yearly during the month of February. Panagbenga is a kankanaey term for "a season of blooming." It is also known as the Baguio Flower Festival, a homage to the beautiful flowers the city is famous for as well as a celebration of Baguio's re-establishment. Since February 1995, it has been held to help Baguio forget the 1990 earthquake that distressed much of the city.

Sumaguing Caves, Sagada Mt. Province

Sumaging Cave is probably one of the most popular caves in Sagada. Aptly nicknamed as the Big Cave, it was created by water erosion. Almost every year, thousands of visitors would trail down to see the magnificent and unorthodox display of stalactites and stalagmites. Historically, the cave also served as hiding place of Filipino soldiers and Guerillas during World War II. Prior to the War, this was also a habitat and eventually also became burial grounds for the Indigenous People of the Cordillera. However, due to looting grave robbers, we do not see any burial graves. Different forms of the cave rocks are named "pig pens", "pregnant woman", "frog pool", "elephant formation", etc.

Region I

Hundred Islands

The Hundred Islands National Park (Pangasinan: Kapulo-puloan or Taytay-Bakes) is in the province of Pangasinan in northern Philippines. It is located in Alaminos City, Pangasinan. The islands (124 at low tide and 123 at high tide) are scattered along Lingayen Gulf and cover an area of 18.44 square kilometres (4,557 acres). They are believed to be about two million years old. Only three of them have been developed for tourists: Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children's Island. When it is your first time to visit the place, people believe that kissing the statue of Princess Urduja would protect you before riding the boat on your way to the islands

Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag

Our Lady of Manaoag (formally: Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario de Manaoag, literal translation: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag) is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, associated with a wooden statue, said to be from the 16th century. She is the patroness of the sick, the helpless and the needy. This holy image is very popular among Roman Catholics in the Northern Philippines, and has been much popularized among the inhabitants of the Pangasinan provincial Area. It is covered by the Archdiocese of the Lingayen-Dagupan district. The province of Pangasinan is one of the Philippines' most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Many people from across the Philippine archipelago come and visit the town of Manaoag, where the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is enshrined in a church dedicated to this name.

The origins of the Our Lady of Manaoag started with the holy Augustinian fathers who were in charge of the spiritual administration of the Manaoag town from the year 1590 to 1613 in accords to the sanctified decree of Spain. It was accepted as a vicariate by the Dominican Provincial Chapter in 1614, under the patronage of Santa Monica. According to documented recorded legend dating back to 1610, a native man who was walking home heard a Lady's mysterious voice. He looked around and with great awe saw the radiant Lady with a Rosary on her right hand and a child on her left as she stood on a cloud veiling a treetop. The man fell on his knees. He told the people of the apparition. And soon right on the spot where the Lady appeared a church was built. A town quickly flourished around it and was called "Manaoag". Tradition has it that the town itself was born from the Virgin’s call, thus the term, "taoag" meaning "to call" was used to name the town. This is where the name Manaoag was derived from, which means "She Calls".

Miracles. The statue of Our Lady of Manaoag purportedly has a long history of miraculous and pious events that are duplicated in the murals all over the church. This is done so that the events will never be forgotten. Devotees, coming from all over the globe, have various reasons for visiting the place among which are pleas for health restoration, good voyage, or better fate.

The statue of Our Lady of Manaoag is considered to be priceless because of the great identity it brings to the province of Pangasinan, but more interestingly because of its jeweled crown. Many criminal attempts have occurred to burglarize the Manaoag Shrine. Several golden crowns and halos are owned by the Manaoag Shrine, which were donated by both Filipinos and foreigners who have visited it. In addition to this, a great display of perfumes are also displayed in the Manaoag museum, from which donations of devotees from all across the globe are presented as gifts to Our Lady of Manaoag.

Some of the miraculous accounts regarding Our Lady of Manaoag are the barbaric times when early pagans from the mountain tribes used to burn down newly converted Christian villages, by which the town of Manaoag was not spared. The city was set on fire. The church with its thatched roof was the last refuge of the people. But the leader of the pillagers, climbed over the fence and shot lighted arrows to all parts of the church. Not a single flame, however, set it on fire. This miraculous event was famously repeated and nationally reported during the Second World War. The Japanese army dropped several bombs on the roof of the Manaoag shrine, by which all landed causing no damage to the roof and the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Because the statue is heavily guarded and secured through bulletproof glass panels within the high altars of the Church, the Archdiocese of Pangasinan has opened an opportunity for people to have a chance to be able to touch the statue of Our Lady of Manaoag by climbing up to the second floor through a stairs located at the back of the church. The soft velvet gown worn by the Lady of Manaoag has a faded spot from where the devotees streaked their hands. After a devotee makes a quick prayer, touches the back of the Lady of Manaoag, and makes a sign of the cross, they move across a souvenir store and on their way out of the church building.

The hilltop location of the Our Lady of Manaoag's shrine stands up to this day where thousands continue to flock every year. Huge crowds attended the day the image was canonically crowned by his Holiness Pope Pius XI using his papal power of Papal Nuncio in April 21, 1926. She celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of her coronation on January 1st, 2000.

Region IV-A

Corregidor Island

Corregidor is a small rocky island in the Philippines about 48 kilometers west of Manila which is stragetically located at the entrance of Manila Bay. This island fortress stands as a memorial for the courage, valor, and heroism of its Filipino and American defenders who bravely held their ground against the overwhelming number of invading Japanese forces during World War II.

Also known as "the Rock," it was a key bastion of the Allies during the war. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941, the military force under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur carried out a delaying action at Bataan. Corregidor became the headquarters of the Allied forces and also the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government. It was from Corregidor that Philippine President Manuel Quezon and General MacArthur left for Australia in February 1942, leaving behind Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright in command.

Although Bataan fell on April 9, 1942, the Philippine and American forces held out at Corregidor for 27 days against great odds. On May 6, 1942, their rations depleted, the Allied forces were forced to surrender Corregidor to Lt. Gen. Homma Masaharu of the Japanese Imperial Army after having successfully halted the Japanese advance on Australia. It was only two years and ten months later in March 1945 when the Allied forces under the command of General MacArthur recaptured Corregidor ... making good his promise to return to the Philippines.

The big guns of Corregidor are now silent and the ruins of buildings, structures, and tunnels in the island tell a very moving story of a war that has claimed so many lives. A visit to this former battleground is a memorable experience especially for those who cherish and value peace and freedom. In his speech delivered at the signing of the surrender of Japan aboard the U.S.S. Missouri at Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur said, "It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past - a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice."

Taal Volcano

Taal Volcano is an active stratovolcano on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It is situated between the towns of Talisay and San Nicolas in Batangas. It consists of an island in Lake Taal, which is situated within a caldera formed by an earlier, very powerful eruption. It is located about 50 km (31 Miles) from the capital, Manila. It also has the distinction of being home to the "Largest island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island". This is referring to Vulcan point, an island in crater lake. The volcano has erupted violently several times, causing loss of life in the populated areas surrounding the lake, the current death toll standing at around 5,000 - 6,000. Because of its proximity to populated areas and eruptive history, the volcano has been designated a Decade Volcano worthy of close study to prevent future natural disasters. It was thought to be named as "a volcano inside a volcano" because many believed that the lake that circles the volcano was once a crater or mouth of a volcano.

Higantes Festival

Adding color and gaiety to Angono town fiesta, celebrated early the 23rd of November, are the "Higantes", paper to mache to giants measuring four to five feet in diameter and ten to twelve feet in height. Philippine Rizal Angono's joyous major festival in honor of San Clemente (patron saint of fishermen) whose image, glorious in papal vestment, is carried by male devotees during a procession accompanied by "pahadores” (devotees dressed in colorful local costumes or fishermen’s clothes, wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles, fish nets, traps, etc.) and “higantes" (giant paper mache images). The street event finishes in a fluvial procession in Laguna de Bay amidst revelry that continues until the image is brought back to its sanctuary.

HISTORY. The “higante” tradition began last century, when Angono was a Spanish hacienda. The hacienda owners concerned about costs prohibited all celebrations except for one annual fiesta. The townspeople concerned about enjoyment decided to make the best of a bad situation. Using an art form brought from Mexico by Spanish priests, they created larger-than-life caricatures of their Spanish landlords. In typical Filipino fashion, the fiesta become in equal parts, a stunning spectacle and a tricky inside joke. There too was a story that a French man happened to pass by this coastal town of Laguna de Bay as he cruised from Manila Bay. Captivated by the town being divided by a river, he predicted that someday giants would come out and become famous. True to his words, Angono can show off of two national artists - Carlos "Botong" Francisco in the field of visual arts and Professor Lucio D. San Pedro in the field of music. There are other Angono sons and daughters who are becoming big or giants on their chosen field of endeavor. Paper mache making is an art that is known back during the Spanish Era. The head of the giants is fashioned from a mold made of clay, which is dried under the heat of the sun.
With the advent of modernization and technology clay is changed to plaster of Paris and resin. The mold is then pasted with lots of newspapers then split into the middle and sun-dried, after which it is then pasted with the brown paper (the slit being covered) then sun-dried again and painted. The body is made of bamboo, but other materials like yantok (rattan) and thin iron bars can also be used. Yards are yards of clothing materials and accessories complete the costume of the "Higantes". Before, Angono town fiesta features a "Mag-anak" (family) Higantes consists of three figures, the father, the mother and the son. In 1987, Mr. Perdigon Vocalan visualized the idea of having a Higante Festival wherein all the barangays in Angono(13 of them) are to be represented by two to four Higantes symbolizing the industry or the personality of the barangay. This idea materialized with the funding given by the Dept. of Tourism and Provincial Tourism Office thus in a year after a seminar and a workshop in Higante Making , the fiesta was flooded with thirty-nine different Higantes. In that year too, there was a contest among the Higantes, thus one can see them a Higante with a duck on its head and another one a basketful of duck eggs representing a barangay that known for its fried itik and balut-making.

Pahiyas Festival

The San Isidro Pahiyas Festival held every May 15 has become one of the country's tourist attractions prompting the Department of Tourism to list down Lucban as a tourist town and a cultural heritage site. During the San Isidro Pahiyas Festival, each household tries to outdo each other in friendly competition as they vie for honor of recognizing their creativity. As incentives to their effort, prizes were given to the winning pahiyas based on a given criteria. This accounts for some of the most curious décor that the unstoppable spirit of the festival tends to show. Decking the hall or decorating the wall with "Kiping" and agricultural harvest is what "PAYAS" or "PAHIYAS" literally means.

Farmers show their bountiful produce such as chayote, radish, pepper and grains of rice. There are miniatures locally known as "ANOK", fruits, vegetables and longganisa (local sausage) strung together in the most original fashion. Residents engaging in other forms of livelihood display their products too in thanksgiving. The handicraft manufacturer has his house decked with colorful buri/buntal hats, bags, placemats and others while the butcher has a head of roasted suckling pig (lechon) peeking from the window.

The most traditional and certainly the most attractive décor comes of course in the form of "KIPING" which are adorn and strung together to form all sorts of shapes, from chandelier called "ARANGYA" to huge flowers. Kiping is made from ground rice flour, shaped using "cabal" leaves or other leaf forms and colored in radiant red, fuschia, yellow, green and other bright shades. When kiping catches the light of the sun it turns into a veritable cascades of color.

The celebration is a form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and in honor of the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro de Labrador. A procession of the image of San Isidro is planned long before the festival and it is said that houses along the route of the procession passes will be especially favored and blessed in the coming year. It is from this belief that the lavish decoration of the home began. After all, one must welcome the saint's blessings with rapture and gratitude.

Since the tradition started, Lucban benefits from this event through the TIYANGGE SA LUCBAN, an agro-industrial fair showcasing Lucban's products. This fair features foods native to the town like the delicious Lucban longganisa, puto seko, broas, tikoy and other delicacies; ornamental plants like dapo and cutflowers; handricrafts such as buri/buntal hats, bags and a number of other cottage industry products.

Region IV-B

Moriones Festival

The Moriones Festival is known widely as one of the most colorful festivals celebrated on the island of Marinduque and the Philippines. Morion means "mask" or "visor," a part of the medieval Roman armor which covers the face. Moriones, on the other hand, refers to the masked and costumed penitents who march around the town for seven days searching for Longinus. Morions roam the streets in town from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday scaring the kids, or engaging in antics or surprises to draw attention. This is a folk-religious festival that re-enacts the story of Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye. The festival is characterized by colorful Roman costumes, painted masks and helmets, and brightly-colored tunics. The towns of Boac, Gasan, Santa Cruz, Buenavista and Mogpog in the island of Marinduque become one gigantic stage. The observances form part of the Lenten celebrations of Marinduque. The various towns also hold the unique tradition of the pabasa or the recitation of Christ's passion in verse.[2] Then at three o'clock on Good Friday afternoon, the Santo Sepulcro is observed, whereby old women exchange verses based on the Bible as they stand in wake of the dead Christ. One of the highlights of this festival is the Via Crucis. A re-enactment of the suffering of Christ on his way to the calvary. Men inflict suffering upon themselves by whipping their backs, carrying a wooden cross and sometimes even crucifixion. They see this act as their form of atonement for their sins. This weeklong celebration starts on Holy Monday and ends on Easter Sunday. [3]

Background. The term "Moriones" was concocted by the media in the 60s, but local inhabitants have kept the original term, "Moryonan". Many practitioners are farmers and fishermen who engage in this age-old tradition as a vow of penance or thanksgiving. Legend has it that Longinus pierced the side of the crucified Christ. The blood that spurted forth touched his blind eye and fully restored his sight. This miracle converted Longinus to Christianity and earned the ire of his fellow centurions. The re-enactment reaches its climax when Longinus is caught and beheaded.

History. The name Moriones is derived from the Spanish word 'Morion' meaning mask or helmet. The Spanish conquistadores were wearing Moriones. The origin of the festival is traced to Mogpog and the year 1807 when the parish priest of said town, Fr. Dionisio Santiago, organized it for the first time.

Puerto Galera

This coastal town is well known among tourists for its numerous pocket beaches and many snorkeling and diving spots. The area was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973 and has some of the most diverse coral reef diving in Asia. The marine environment has benefited in recent years from the influx of tourist dollars. This has seen a huge reduction in the number of fishermen in the area, as they gain higher revenue from tourists.

Among the famous beaches in Puerto Galera are Sabang Beach and White Beach, which have an active nightlife with numerous bars and restaurants. Both beaches also have an array of first-class and economy-class accommodations. Sabang beach is the main destination for foreign tourists, while White Beach remains popular with local travelers. Since 2001 White beach has seen uncontrolled development. New restaurants and places to stay are rapidly encroaching on the beach itself and little remains of the once charming beach. Puerto Galera town is a pleasant but sleepy Philippine town with few attractions. It has a large central catholic church and a Pier area, with a selection of bistros and cafes.

Behind the beaches are the huge and generally unexplored mountain ranges of central Mindoro. A particular local attraction is the nine hole golf course perched on the hillside above White Beach which commands spectacular views over Puerto Galera's natural harbor and the Verde Island Passage. Mangyan tribes are scattered over the mountains sides - some of the more remote tribes have no contact with the outside world. Of the eight tribes on Mindoro, the Iraya are the largest. They are based in the Puerto Galera area.

Puerto Galera has become the top diving destination in the Philippines. Excellent diving is found less than 5 minutes from the Sabang area. The diving generally focuses around the areas either side of Escarceo Point which is famous for its current rips. Strong currents are a feature of the diving in Puerto Galera and it is good advice to employ the services of an experienced local guide or dive centre. There are upwards of thirty dive sites all within a 5-10 minute banca ride from Sabang Beach. Marine life is highly diverse. 180+ species of nudibranchs are found in the area and most species of fish can be seen A variety of wrecks have been sunk over the years in addition to the one genuine wreck of an engine of a WWII Japanese patrol boat.

El Nido

'The El Nido Marine Reserve' Bacuit Bay Palawan is home of the Philippines most precious and largest wildlife reserve. Since the 1998 damage of our coral reef due to global warming, followed quickly afterwards by a terrible typhoon, the recovery of our corals can be seen everywhere.
Prevention of further coral reef destruction from similar incidents is now being researched. A beautiful reef surrounds Private Island Natural Health, it's truly a wonderful tropical venue to commune with Mother Nature's paradises and give yourself a cleansing detox fast, combined with alternative healing.
Bacuit Bay, El Nido in Northern Palawan, is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. With its 23 islands, many of them still dense primary jungle and spectacular black marble cliffs more than 500 million years old, their beaches make ideal nesting sites for green & hawksbill turtles. In 1989, the World Wildlife Fund initiated "Debt for Nature Swap" created the largest marine park in the Philippines, comprising some 1000 km. With continued funds from the United Nations and now an Annual Grant of $300,000 from the European Commission, this Marine Park falls under the El Nido Taytay Resource Protection Area Management Board and comprises a land area of 36,018 hectares and a water area of 54,303 hectares: a total of 90,321 hectares. Of the islands within Bacuit Bay only Miniloc and Lagan (because of existing tourist development) and Malapacao (because of its fishing community) are classified as multiple-use zones, the rest will hopefully remain protected for many, many years to come.

Tubbataha Reef

The name 'Tubbataha' is a Samal word for "long reef exposed at low tide". Samals are seafaring people of the Sulu Sea. Cagayanen people who are more geographically associated with Tubbataha Reefs referred the Park as 'gusong'. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Rising from the volcanic depths of the Sulu Sea in the western Philippines, these magnificent atolls encompass an astonishing diversity of marine life.

The park is an underwater sanctuary where nature can thrive. Tubbataha is the Philippines' only marine natural Park and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place of global importance, being preserved for generations to come. From majestic whale sharks to elusive seahorses - Tubbataha supports an unparalleled variety of marine creatures. Colourful reef fish crowd corals growing in the shallows while sharks and manta rays haunt the steep drop offs to the open sea.

Tubbataha is well known to fishermen of the southern Philippines but until the late 1970s, Cagayanons were the primary users of the reefs' resources. During the summer, they would make fishing trips to Tubbataha in fleets of traditional wooden sailboats. Tubbataha's isolation and its susceptibility to harsh weather once protected it from over-exploitation. But by the 1980s, fishermen from other parts of the Philippines started exploiting Tubbataha in motorized boats, many using destructive fishing techniques to maximize their catch.

In 1988 - in response to a vigorous campaign by Philippine scuba divers and environmentalists alike - President Corazon Aquino declared Tubbataha a National Marine Park. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home to no less than:
· 573 species of fish
· 379 species of corals (about half of all coral species in the world)
· 11 species of sharks
· 12 species of dolphins & whales
· Nesting Hawksbill & Green sea turtles
· Over 100 species of birds
· The park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reef, lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle - the centre of global marine biodiversity.

Region V

Mayon Volcano

The Mayon Volcano is an active stratovolcano in the Philippines on the island of Luzon, in the province of Albay in the Bicol Region. The near perfectly cone shaped volcano is situated 15 kilometres northwest of Legazpi City. Mayon Volcano is one of the candidates of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Mayon is a stratovolcano or composite volcano. The current cone was formed through pyroclastic and lava flows from past eruptions. Mayon is the most active volcano in the Phillipines, having erupted over 47 times in the past 400 years.[1] It is located between the Eurasian and the Philippine Plate, at a convergent plate boundary: where a continental plate meets an oceanic plate, the lighter continental plate overrides the oceanic plate, forcing it down; magma is formed where the rock melts. Like other volcanoes located around the rim of the Pacific Ocean, Mayon is a part of the "Pacific Ring of Fire". It is renowned as the "Perfect Cone" volcano because of its almost perfectly conical shape.

Our Lady of Penafrancia (Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia in the Philippines)

Way back in the seventeenth century, a Spanish family came to the Philippines and settled in the port of Cavite. They were from San Martin de Castañar. They had a son named Miguel de Cobarrubias. Miguel grew up under the influence of the Dominican Fathers of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila where he was an intern student in that venerable institution. He studied grammar, philosophy, and theology in preparation for the priesthood. He had with him an image of Our Lady of Peña de Francia and he had been since youth an ardent devotee of this miraculous image.
While he was a student in the university, he was a victim of frequent illness. In some cases he suffered from serious diseases. He used to complain of unexplained pains which often paralyzed his normal movements. Fortunately for him. However, he had this holy image to whom he would have recourse in moments of great pain, anguish, and adversity. He recalled that by putting the image on the part of his body that ailed him most, he would recover from his illness.

This image was actually found on the cover of a book on the history of the Blessed Virgin of Peñafrancia and Miguel de Cobarrubias carried this book with him all around and even in his sleep. Sometimes relief from his illness would be delayed but Miguel, the fruitful devotee of the Lady, never lost heart for he believed that the Blessed Mother, ever solicitous and maternal, purposely delayed the cure to make him repent his sins better.

So many miracles were wrought upon the holy person of Miguel de Cobarrubias but he was always wont to exclaim: “all I can say is that I am the miracle of her miracles because I firmly believe that on many occasions, I owe my life to her.” In gratitude for the many blessings he had received from the Virgin of Peñafrancia, Miguel de Cabarrubias vowed that, when he shall be in a financial position he would erect a stone church on the bank of the Pasig River in Manila in honor of the Blessed Virgin. He looked for a sculptor to make a replica of the image of Our Lady of Peña de Francia but it took him time before he was able to find one.

Meanwhile, after his studies in theologate, Bishop Andres Gonzales of then Diocese of Nueva of Caceres, ordered Miguel to proceed to Naga City to be ordained priest. He was later given a small parochial church, and six months afterwards, was made parish priest of the Cathedral Church and, subsequently, made the Provisor and Vicar-General of the bishopric of Nueva Caceres which, at that time, covered the entire Bicol Region in its ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

It is recalled that during his trip to Nueva Caceres, a very strong and furious typhoon developed that the was riding was almost on the brink of sinking. Everybody thought that would be their fateful end. Miguel, however, was confident that he was called to a further mission and so he invoked the help of his Patroness Virgin of Peñafrancia and, thanks to his prayer and devotion, the storm subsided and everybody reached the place safe and sound. Many other miracles were experienced by Miguel de Cobarrubias through the intercession of the Virgin of Peñafrancia and all of these were documented in his letters of 1710, 1711, and 1717 which he sent to the Chaplain of Peñafrancia of San Martin de Castañar.

Having been given a ranking position in the diocese, Father Miguel knew that his stay in this place would be longer and he realized that it would render him incapable of fulfilling his vow in the place where he originally intended to build the stone church. He therefore asked permission from his superiors to build the promised church in Nueva Caceres. The permission was granted but the first difficulty was the location on which the church would be constructed. The solution to this problem proved to be an incident drawn by the hands of providence.

It is said that the cimmarones from the base of Mount Isarog came to see Father Miguel one day and begged him to build the church or ermita on a site which would be reached in less than thirty minutes from the poblacion. Accordingly the cimmarones who have been Christianized much earlier by the Francisca missionaries, Wanted a church where they could hear mass and receive the sacraments. This made Father Miguel very happy because it opened the way to the fulfillment of his vow.

Father Miguel then promptly had a chapel made of straw and other local materials erected in the site indicated by the cimmarones. This must have been around 1710. In addition, Father Miguel asked a local sculptor to carve a statue of the Virgin Mary patterned after the picture of Our Lady of Peñafrancia who has been very instrumental in the many miracles wrought upon the person of the Father Miguel. The image was made from a santol tree.
As a practice in those times, to serve as paint and wood preservative, the blood was used to color the statue. So a dog was caught, its feet body of the dog was afterwards thrown into the river nearby. Father Miguel, at this instant, remarked: “The Virgin will work her first miracle in Caceres. She will bring back to life that innocent animal that gave blood for her.” Upon hearing his words, those who ere around laughed sarcastically. To their surprise, however, the dog began to swim and upon reaching the bank fast to the house of his master. This miracle was also witnessed by some Dominican Fathers who were then vacationing as guests of Bishop Gonzales.

The news of this miracle spread like a prairie fire. It went from mouth to mouth and from town to town. People from all places and all walks of life, suffering from various ailments, mishaps, pains ad other misfortunes both spiritual and physical, began imploring her powerful intercession. And Our Lady of Peña de Francia did not disappoint them but only because they had put so much faith on her. In no time she was proclaimed as the foremost and miraculous Patroness of Bicolandia.

The official coronation of Our lady of Peñafrancia our Patroness of Bicolandia took place on September 2, 1924, offiaciated by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Guillermo ______ their Apostolic to the Delegate. The image therefore of Our lady of Peñafrancia enshrined in her sanctuary in Calle Balatas is about 275 years old. It is an antique statue that has even become the object of desire for many an antique collector. On the morning of August 15, 1981, this miraculous image was stolen from her shrine at the Peñafrancia Church. The entire region was shocked by this news and every devotee of Our Ina could not believe that such a dastardly and sacrilegious act could be perpetuated. Immediately a network for the massive search of the image was military and civilians alike. In the course of following leads to the theft, a policeman was killed and a police lieutenant was wounded when the jeepney they were riding in were ambushed by heavily armed men somewhere in Bolo Sur, Sipocot, Camarines Sur.
It seemed that the search would be futile altogether and people almost resigned to the sorry fate of having lost a most beloved image. Most of the leads proved a haux. Meanwhile the approaching feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia necessitated an image to be borne during the translation and the colorful fluvial procession. One was made at the instant of church authorities and another image was donated by the First Lady.

A little over a year later, the region was shocked, with equal unbelief, with the news that the image has been returned to Rt. Rev. Msgr. Florencio Yllana, P.A.,Liaison Officer of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and former Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia here in Naga City. On September 8, 1982, Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, the motorcade from Manila bearing the Image arrived in Naga City at the height of typhoon Ruping. The inclement weather did not deter thousands of devotees who braved the raging winds and the devastating floods to welcome the image of Our beloved Ina. At 10:00 in the evening of the same day, the image was safely enshrined at the Metropolitan Cathedral where a pontifical concelebrated mass offered in thanksgiving for the return and safe arrival of the image.

The image is now enshrined at the Basilica Minore at Calle Balatas in the City of Naga. She has returned to her flock and her people have gratefully built her a home worthy of her dignity, honor, and maternal position.

Region VI

Masskara Festival

The MassKara Festival is a week-long festival held each year in Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental province in the Philippines every third weekend of October nearest October 19, the city's Charter Anniversary. The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. The province relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop, and the price of sugar was at an all-time low due to the introduction of sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup in the United States.[1] It was also a time of tragedy; on April 22 of that year, the inter-island vessel Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod City, collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sank. An estimated 700 lives were lost in the tragedy.

In the midst of these tragic events, the city's artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles. They reasoned that a festival was also a good opportunity to pull the residents out of the pervasive gloomy atmosphere. The initial festival was therefore, a declaration by the people of the city that no matter how tough and bad the times were, Bacolod City is going to pull through, survive, and in the end, triumph.

The word "MassKara" is a portmanteau, coined by the late artist Ely Santiago from the word "mass" meaning "many or a multitude of the people", and the Spanish word cara meaning "face". A prominent feature of the festival is the mask worn by participants; these are always adorned with smiling faces. MassKara thus means a multitude of smiling faces.

Dinagyang Festival

The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City, Philippines held on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog In Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Aklan. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival on Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis.

Dinagyang began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. In 1968, a replica of the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpicio Enderez as a gift to the Parish of San Jose. The faithful, led by members of Confradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chapter, worked to give the image a fitting reception starting at the Iloilo Airport and parading down the streets of Iloilo.

In the beginning, the observance of the feast was confined to the parish. The Confradia patterned the celebration on the Ati-atihan of Ibajay, Aklan, where natives dance in the streets, their bodies covered with soot and ashes, to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the prototype of the present festival.

In 1977, the Marcos government ordered the various regions of the Philippines to come up with festivals or celebrations that could boost tourism and development. The City of Iloilo readily identified the Iloilo Ati-atihan as its project. At the same time the local parish could no longer handle the growing challenges of the festival.

The Dinagyang is divided into three Major events: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing and Miss Dinagyang.

Today, the main part of the festival consists of a number of "tribes", called "tribus", who are supposed to be Ati tribe members dancing in celebration. There are a number of requirements, including that the performers must paint their skin brown and that only indigenous materials can be used for the costumes. All dances are performed to drum music. Many tribes are organized by the local high schools. Some tribes receive a subsidiary from the organizers and recruit private sponsors, with the best tribes receiving the most. The current Ati population of Iloilo is not involved with any of the tribes nor are they involved in the festival in any other way. It is the first festival in the world to get the support of the United Nations for the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals.

Region VII

Sinulog Festival

The Sinulog is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Philippines. The festival honors the child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño, patron of the city of Cebu. It is a dance ritual that commemorates the Filipino people's pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity.

The festival features a street parade with participants in bright-colored costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs. Smaller versions of the festival are held in various parts of the province, also to celebrate and honor the Santo Niño. There is also a "Sinulog sa Kabataan", performed by the youths of Cebu a week before the grand parade.

The Sinulog celebration traditionally lasts for nine days, culminating on the final day with the Sinulog Grand Parade. The day before the parade, the Fluvial Procession is held at dawn with the Santo Niño carried on a pump boat from Mandaue City to Cebu City, decked with hundreds of flowers and candles. The procession ends at the Basilica where a re-enactment of the Christianizing of Cebu is performed. In the afternoon, a more solemn procession takes place along the major streets of the city, which last for hours due to large crowd participating in the event. On the feast day at the Basilica, a Pontifical Mass is celebrated by the Cardinal with the assistance of several bishops of Cebu. Most devotees go to the Basilica to attend the mass before heading out to the streets to watch the parade.

The word Sinulog comes from the Cebuano adverb sulog which is "like water current movement," which describes the forward-backward movement of the Sinulog dance. The dance consists of two steps forward and one step backward, done to the sound of drums. The dance is categorized into Sinulog-base, Free-Interpretation. Candle vendors at the Basilica continue to perform the traditional version of the dance when lighting a candle for the customer, usually accompanied by songs in the native language.

The Sinulog dance steps were believed to originate from Rajah Humabon's adviser, Baladhay. It was during Humabon's grief when Baladhay was driven sick. He then ordered his natives to bring Baladhay into a chapel where the Sto. Niño was enthroned. Moments later, surprisingly, Baldhay was heard shouting and was found dancing with outmost alertness. Baladhay was questioned as to whether why was he awake and was shouting. Baladhay explained that he found a small child, pointing to the image of the Sto. Niño, on top of him and trying to wake him up. He, at great astonishment, scared the child away by shouting but couldn't explain why he was dancing the movements of the river. Up to this day, the two-steps forward and the one-step backward movement dance is still used by the Sto. Niño devotees believing that it was the Sto. Niño's choice to have Baladhay dance what the holy child wants them to dance

Region VIII

Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills is an unusual geological formation in Bohol, Philippines.[1] It is composed of around 1,268 perfectly cone-shaped hills of about the same size, spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi). They are covered in green grass that turns brown during the dry season, hence the name.

The Chocolate Hills is a famous tourist attraction of Bohol. It is featured in the provincial flag and seal to symbolize the abundance of natural attraction in the province.[2] It is in the Philippine Tourism Authority's list of tourist destinations in the Philippines;[3] it has been declared the country's 3rd National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.[3]

There are a number of hypotheses regarding the formation of the hills. These include simple limestone weathering, sub-oceanic volcanism, the uplift of the seafloor and a more recent theory which maintains that as an ancient active volcano self-destructed, it spewed huge blocks of stone which were then covered with limestone and later thrust forth from the ocean bed.[11]

Geologists have long debated about the formation of the hills, resulting in various ways the origin of the Chocolate Hills are stated or explained. The one written on the bronze plaque at the viewing deck in Carmen, Bohol states that they are eroded formations of a type of marine limestone that sits on top of hardened clay.[12] The plaque reads:
The unique land form known as the Chocolate Hills of Bohol was formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion.[12][13]

Another statement says:
the grassy hills were once coral reefs that erupted from the sea in a massive geologic shift. Wind and water put on the finishing touches over hundreds of thousands of years.[12]

Still another way the origin is stated is that they were formed centuries ago by tidal movement[14] and by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion.[3] Another theory is that they were ancient coral limestone reefs shaped by many thousands of years erosion by both water and wind.[6] Geologists think that the specific shape of the hills is caused by the influence of the weather over millions of years. The break down of the upper layers of the limestone formations, followed by the erosion processes, resulted in these cone-shaped remnants.[15] It is likely that they were once limestone deposits beneath the sea, uplifted by the movement of plates and then smoothed by wind and rainwater erosion.[1]

The Chocolate Hills are conical karst hills similar to those seen in the limestone regions of Slovenia and Croatia, except that the Chocolate Hills have no caves.[6] According to the karst theory, "sea level changes and uplift combined with terrestrial erosion and air exposure of biogenic reef regions have given rise to hummocky landscapes that are often impregnated with sinkholes and caves." The Chocolate Hills are considered among the striking examples of this karst topography.[16] The Bungle Bungles in the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia feature similar sedimentary formations.

Three legends explain the formation of the Chocolate Hills. The first tells the story of two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders and sand at each other. The fighting lasted for days, and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had made during their battle, hence the Chocolate Hills.[12][6]

A more romantic legend tells of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya who was a simple mortal. Aloya's death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried the Chocolate Hills were formed.[17]

The third legend tells of a town being plagued by a giant carabao, who ate all of their crops. Finally having had enough, the townsfolk took all of their spoiled food and placed it in such a way that the carabao would not miss it. Sure enough, the carabao ate it, but his stomach couldn't handle the spoiled food, so he defecated, leaving behind him a mound of feces, until he had emptied his stomach of the food. The feces then dried, forming the Chocolate Hills.

Pintados Festival

The Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is a merry-making event lasting a whole month, highlights of which include the Leyte Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, the 17th Pintados Festival Ritual Dance Presentation and the "Pagrayhak'' Grand Parade. These festivals are said to have began from the feast day of Señor Santo Niño, held every June 29th. The Leyteños celebrate a religious festival in a unique and colorful way. Since the Visayans are experienced in the art of body tattooing, men and women are fond of tattooing themselves.

The Pintados Festival displays the rich cultural heritage, incorporating native music and dances, of the people of Leyte and Samar. The Leyte Kasadya-an Festival of Festivals, meanwhile, showcases the unique culture and colorful history of the Province of Leyte. Started by former Leyte Governor Remedios Loreto-Petilla, the celebration was first held on May 12, 1996. The festivities weren't always held every June 29th; the first three years saw different dates. It was only in 1999 that it was fixed to June 29, the Feast of the Señor Santo Niño de Leyte.

"Kasadyaan'' in the Visayan tongue means merriment and jollity. Various municipal festivals of Leyte gather together in the original capital of Tacloban City for the celebration. There, lively dance-drama parade of many colors takes place. There is an important role that the festival plays, and it is strengthening the Leyteños' sense of pride. Every municipality mounts a storyline all their own to portray with pride their local folklore and legends.
The Pintados festival of Tacloban City is a Filipino festival with its own unique flavor. This Pintados festival recalls Pre-Spanish history of the native Leytenos from wars, epics and folk religions. The most expected aspect of the Pintados festival are the festive dancers, painted from head to toe with designs that look like armor to resemble the tattooed warriors of old. During the course of the Pintados festival, dancers whose bodies are painted in an amazing array of colors fill the streets of Tacloban city. At first sight, they may seem outrageous as grown men pour into the streets decorated in such dazzling colors as luminous blue or neon green. But as one gets used to this and sees the dances depicted, one gets a glimpse of the history of the people that once lived on the islands of Leyte so long ago.
The folk dances presented by the dancers portray the many traditions that flourished before the Spaniards came. These include worship of idols, indigenous music and epic stories. The hypnotic rhythms of native instruments beat through the air accompanying the dances performed on the streets as the Pintados festival goes. Aside from the folk dances, is the much likely parade, which crisscrosses the avenues of Tacloban city. The parade traditionally begins at the Balayuan Towers and proceeds throughout tacloban leyte city. The surprised spectators follow the procession of dancing colors from the beginning to end. The Pintados festival concludes in much merrymaking with a signature traditional Filipino fiesta, where everyone is invited to join the fun and celebrate the Pintados Festival.

In 1668, the Spaniards came to the Visayas and found in the islands heavily tattooed men and women, whom they called Pintados. These people had a culture of their own, commemorating victories by holding festivals and honoring their gods after a bountiful harvest.

It was in 1888 that missionaries from Spain brought the Child Jesus image known as "El Capitan" to the island. It had a rich and colorful background that draw out the devotion and worship of the Leyte natives to the Santo Niño. Then in 1986, the Pintados Foundation, Inc. was founded by civic-minded businessmen and entrepreneurs based in Tacloban City. They began organizing religious cultural activities for the city fiesta in honor of Señor Santo Niño. This marked the advent of the Pintados Festival, which was first celebrated June 29th of the year 1987. Today, it is called the Leyte Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival and is called as the "Festival of Festivals."
The name “pintados” is derived from what the native warriors, whose bodies were adorned with tattoos, were called. In those times, and even in some places today, tattoos were a mark of courage and beauty. Since tattoo-making was not yet as precise as it is today, they were rather painful and one risked the chance of contracting an infection. Therefore, a man who faced the dangers of tattooing and lived was considered to be both strong and brave. But even before the tattoo process itself, one would have to earn them after fighting heroically in wars. Tattoos (pintados) served as a status symbol; much like a general’s badge would today. It was the mark of courage, rank and strength. The bravest warriors were heavily adorned in tattoos which covered every inch of their bodies, head to foot. Indeed, these men were in fact such an unusual sight that western missionaries considered them frightening and uncivilized upon their first glimpses of these warriors. But as time passed, they learned to see the tattoos as a part of the life of native peoples and even as a sign of beauty for them. With the passing of time, as the story is with all things, the old made way for the new. The traditions of tattooing (pintados) and worshiping earth spirits were replaced as modernization came. But these traditions are still remembered with the celebration of the Pintados festival.
Region X

Maria Cristina Falls

Maria Cristina Falls is a waterfall of the Agus River on the island of Mindanao. It is sometimes called the "twin falls" as the flow is separated by a rock at the brink of the waterfall.[1] It is a landmark of Iligan City, nicknamed the City of Majestic Waterfalls, because of the presence of more than 20 waterfalls in the city.[2] It is located 9.3 kilometers away southwest of the city proper at the boundaries of Barangays Maria Cristina, Ditucalan, and Buru-un.[2] Well-known for its natural beauty and grandeur, the 320-feet98 meters/320 feet high waterfall[3] is also the primary source of electric power for the city's industries, being harnessed by the Agus VI Hydroelectric Plant.[4]

Maria Cristina Falls powers the Agus VI Hydroelectric Plant, one of the several hydroelectric plants that harness Agus River. The power plant has a 200 MW potential capacity[4] supplied by a water flow of about 130 cubic meters per second.[2]

Region XI

Mount Apo

Mount Apo is a large stratovolcano on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It is the highest mountain in the country and overlooks Davao City, a few kilometres to the northeast. Its name means "master" or "grandfather". Apo is flat topped, with three peaks, and is capped by a 500 m wide volcanic crater containing a small crater lake. It is a source of geothermal energy, but the date of its most recent eruption is unknown, and none are verified in historic times. Mount Apo is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the Philippines, and the summit is easy to reach. The first recorded climb was on October 10, 1880 by a party led by Don Joaquin Rajal.

Kadayawan Festival

The Kadayawan Festival is an annual festival in the city of Davao in the Philippines. Its name derives from the friendly greeting "Madayaw", from the Dabawenyo word "dayaw", meaning good, valuable, superior or beautiful. The festival is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.

Today, Kadayawan has transformed into a festival of festivals, with a number of spin-off festivals in the region. The festival honors Davao’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage, its past personified by the ancestral “lumads”, its people as they celebrate on the streets, and its floral industry as its representatives parade in full regalia in thanksgiving for the blessings granted on the city. A celebration that interfaces the three aspects: tribal; industrial and; arts and entertainment. The festivities are highlighted with floral floats, street-dancing competitions and exhibits that showcases the island's tourism products and services.

The festival began from a government-initiated program called “Unlad Proyekto Davao” in 1986, planned to unite the Davaoeños after the chaotic martial law years and to showcase the city as a peaceful and colorful place to visit and do business in. At the time, it was called “Apo Duwaling”, a name created from the icons Davao was famous for: Mt. Apo, the country's highest peak; durian, the king of fruits; and waling-waling. The queen of orchids. Davao is also home of the majestic Philippine eagle, the national bird. In 1988, the festival was renamed “Kadayawan sa Dabaw” by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to celebrate the city's unique wealth in flowers, fruits, and ethnic culture. The usual schedule of the festival is on the 2nd week of August, however, with many lined activities, it becomes a month long celebration.

UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization