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Manila And Beyond: A Guide To The Top Ten Autumn Events In The Philippines
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Manila And Beyond: A Guide To The Top Ten Autumn Events In The Philippines

Picture of Ellen Von Weigand
Updated: 9 February 2017
The tropical islands of the Philippines are home to an array of traditional cultural events involving colourful dress, celebratory dancing and indigenous food. But its cultural output is not limited to lasting traditions, as it also celebrates a series of events involving more contemporary art forms. This list of the country’s events recommends the best places to travel this autumn and winter for those seeking out art, design, film, music, dance, food and literature from Manila to San Fernando Pampanga.

Art | Ateneo Art Awards Exhibition

02 August – 07 December 2013

The Ateneo Art Awards exhibition at the Ateneo Art Gallery is the culmination of the institution’s annual search for the most outstanding artists based on exhibitions held throughout the country in the previous year. The theme of the 2013 awards is ‘Marking Time’, and 12 short-listed artists under the age of 36 have created works which engaged in an innovative way with these words. Of these 12, the award is presented to three artists, who are then invited to apply for international residency grants given by Ateneo gallery and its associate institutions. Although the winners of the competition have already been announced, the current exhibition offers visitors the chance to view the work of all shortlisted candidates.

Learn more about the Ateneo Art Awards

Literature | Manila International Book Fair

11-15 September 2013

2013 marks the 34th year of the Manila International Book Fair, the largest and longest running event of its type in the country. The fair’s extensive and varied list of publishers will offer a range of literature including popular novels, art books, educational supplements, graphic novels, rare titles, Filipiana, travel tools and others. Aside from its selection of inexpensive books, the Manila International Book fair presents a series of special events such as storytelling sessions, poetry readings, book signings, book launches, literary awards, quiz bee competitions, interactive education and other activities.

Learn more about the Manila International Book Fair

Food | The National Food Showdown

20-21 September 2013

The National Food Showdown began in 2007, lead by TV FOOD CHEFS, INC., to introduce the Philippines to the exciting circuit of culinary skills competitions. As the nation’s premier food event, participants in the showdown come not only from Manila, but also from various regions around the country and include industry professionals from hotels and restaurants, as well as current culinary students. The 2013 competition will be held at the World Trade Center in Metro Manila, and takes the theme of ‘Mastering the Basics’. The two day event will allow these masters of their trade to showcase their impressive talents to their peers and to others with an interest in Filipino cuisine.

Learn More about the National Food Showdown

Art | ManilArt

09-13 October 2013

ManilArt has established itself as the premier art fair in the Philippines. With a total of 40 participating galleries exhibiting over 500 artists, last year’s event attracted a crowd of nearly 11,000 people. The fair aims to introduce collectors and art enthusiasts to emerging national talent, to offer the public a chance to enjoy the works of established Filipino masters first hand, and to promote the art exhibition as a valuable component of the country’s culture. In 2013 ManilArt will be held in the excellent facilities of the SMX Aura Convention Center in Taguig City in the southern part of Manila, the newest venue in the country.

Learn more about ManilArt

Masskara Festival
© John Albert Pagunsan | Wikimedia Commons

Culture | MassKara Festival

14-21 October 2013

Held each year in Bacolod, the MassKara Festival takes place during the third week of October. The origins of the festival date back to 1980, when the city of Bacolod, known as the ‘City of Smiles’, underwent a particularly difficult period, the result of economic hardship due to declining international demand for sugar cane, the area’s main crop, and tragedy involving an inter-island vessel accident which killed many members of the community. To resurrect the town from its sadness, the Masskara Festival was inaugurated as the festival of smiles. The highlight of the event is a street dance competition in which dancers wear brightly coloured masks traditionally painted with a wide smile. Among the array of other activities are the MassKara Queen beauty pageant, carnivals, a food festival, sport events, an agriculture-trade fair, and musical concerts.

Learn more about the Masskara Festival

Design | Design Week Philippines 2013

17-20 October 2013

In 2011 President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Republic of the Philippines declared every third week of March and October as Design Week Philippines. By dedicated two weeks a year to first class design talent, the country hopes to secure its position as the primary design destination in Asia. As part of the week’s events Manila Fame, one of Asia’s foremost sourcing shows for furniture and homewares, will act as a platform for small and large design entrepreneurs to exhibit their products on the world market. Exhibits will be complemented by talks by design and architecture professionals, and tours will offer visitors an exclusive look around Metro Manila’s top design districts.

Learn more about Design Week Philippines

Culture | Lanzones Festival

20-27 October 2013

This celebration of the lanzones fruit harvest is held annually during the third week of October. The sweetest lanzones are said to grow in Mambajao, Camiguin, where the event takes place, and it has become the area’s most valuable resource. According to myth, the sweet nectar of the lanzones was given by a goddess, who removed the once bitter flavour to replace it with the celebrated taste of today’s fruit. The town thus celebrates the fruit as an important gift to their people. During the period of the festival, the community dresses in elaborate and vibrant costume and participates in street dancing competitions, cultural shows, parades and beauty pageants accompanied by a trade fair of local handicraft.

Learn more about the Lanzones Festival

Manila Boracay Latin Dance Festival
© Glen Bowman | Wikimedia Commons

Dance | Manila Boracay Latin Dance Festival

21-28 November 2013

The eight days of the Manila Boracay Latin Dance Festival are spread across the two locations, with four days in Manila and four in Boracay. During the festival, participants can enjoy dance demonstrations, workshops, salsa parties as well as the Manila International Dance Competition. A variety of event passes are on offer, allowing visitors to decide if they would like to participate in the entire week of festivities, or only a few days of high energy salsa activity. Furthermore, for those who have specific interests and do not wish to participate in all facets of the event, separate tickets are available for workshops, shows, and parties.

Learn more about the Manila Boracay Latin Dance Festival

The Giant Lantern Festival
© Ramon FVelasquez | Wikimedia Commons

Culture | The Giant Lantern Festival

14 December 2013

Every year the Giant Lantern Festival takes place the Saturday before Christmas eve in San Fernando Pampanga. The event is a showcase for the area’s most popular product, the ‘parol’ or lighted stars. The artisan parol makers of Pampanga are known to be the most skilled, creating the largest and most elaborate giant lanterns in the country. Made to reference the star of Bethlehem, the first parol was made in 1928 by Francisco Estanislao and, only a few feet in diameter, it took the form of the traditional five pointed star. Designs have since evolved, and the largest lanterns today can span up to 40 feet. During the festival, Pampanga’s lantern craftsmen compete to see who can create the most impressive parol, which can take many hours and thousands of dollars to construct. Each participant displays his lantern accompanied by the music of his choosing.

Learn more about the Giant Lantern Festival

Film | Metro Manila Film Festival

25 December through the first week of January 2013

Now in its 38th year, the Metro Manila Film Festival is an annual event celebrating the talented figures in the Filipino film industry. To complement the festival programme the city of Manila ceases to show foreign films in its cinemas for the week of the event in order to highlight local innovation. Films are shown in both Filipino and English, and entries are made in four categories: Independent Feature Films, Student Short Films, Animation, and Cinephone, for which people from all over the nation have been invited to showcase their creativity through composing a film on their mobile phones.

Learn more about the Metro Manila Film Festival