Unique Festivals of Pampanga
Kapampangans are well known for their passion for food. But Pampanga also has colorful festivities that reflect its rich culture and unique native traditions. Kapampangans are proud of who they are and these festivals are proof of their happy home living. Each province has their own distinct festival. Having a house and lot in Pampanga gets you closer to these one-of-a-kind celebrations.
Fiestang Tugak (Frog Festival)
Every October, the city of San Fernando celebrates its old past time of catching frogs. Back in the day, the town’s vast rice fields were full of frogs. Before, when farmers would plant during the start of the rainy season, their children will run off the fields to catch frogs. They would lure the frogs out of hiding by using a piece of cloth that looks like flies. When the frogs would leap, they were caught by a container or sack with ash to remove the frog’s slime. This technique of catching frogs is called pamamaduas tugak.
The abundance of frogs and the rich baiting techniques of Fernandinos (the people of San Fernando) inspired some of their dishes. The most common frog recipe is the Betute or deep-fried frog stuffed with minced pork or frog meat. Other recipes that include frogs are Adobong Tugak, Tinolang Tugak, Almondegas, Torta or Frog Burgers. The townspeople serve these dishes during the festival.
Besides the food, the festival also has street dances, attractions, and frog-catching competitions. Townsfolk prepare green and yellow costumes to mimic the frogs that are well part of their rich culture. Colorful cartoon frog mascots also join the parade.
This festival, celebrated in November, is a reminder of the strength and unity of the people of Bacolor.
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the year 1991, Bacolor was deep in Lahar for four years. People believed that Apu Malyari, a god of the Aetas, got angry because of the townsfolk’s misconduct towards Mother Nature.
Makatapak means “going barefoot.” People had to remove their slippers and step firmly on the soft, hot mud. Walking over lahar is similar to walking through quicksand. The experience was humbling as people from different social classes walked hand in hand to reach safety.
The first day of Makatapak Festival includes street dances from nine municipalities of Pampanga affected by the lahar. The performances show the people’s various experiences of lahar incidents. There is also Imung Baculud – washing the body in neck-deep water of Gugu River. The second day is the feast for Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (Virgen La Naval) which was also buried by the Pinatubo eruption.
Duman comes from beaten husks of malagkit rice (lakatan malutu) and toasted in a clay oven. This pinipig look alike is only available in December after the harvest of the previous month. Hence, the festival falls on the last week of November or the first Saturday of December.
The people of Sta. Rita prepares the best duman. The preparation is a rigorous process. First, the magdurumans – the families who produce duman – have to beat the young green rice kernels to separate the husk. The rice pellets are then soaked in water and cooked for thirty minutes. The rice receives another round of pounding to help release the oils and nutty flavor. Families pass this method of preparing duman from generation to generation. The method became a celebrated tradition.
The seasonal delicacy can be eaten plain. Some people like to add sugar or place it on fresh carabao’s milk, tsokolate batirol or as toppings on ice cream. Others make duman kalamay.
The first week of December showcases Kapampangan pride. Sinukwan Festival honors Aring Sinukwan, the god of the ancient Kapampangans. Thus, it is a cultural festival celebrated by the whole province. It aims to save and empower Pampanga’s culture and language.
The spirit of celebration begins with a grand street performance in San Fernando City. Towns compete for the best costume and performance award while dancing to the beat of the local folk song “Atin Cu Pung Singsing.”
Various schools prepare dance numbers to showcase their talent and creativity.
The festival also includes a cultural pageant called Lakan, Lakambini and Prinsensita ning Sinukwan. Awards are given for the use of Kapampangan language, the uniqueness of cultural and festival costumes, and the promotion of the local music and arts through a showcase of talent. The pageant also seeks to retain the context of indigenous traditions and make the people understand their culture’s history and authenticity.
The Dukit Festival gives praise to the craftsmanship and woodcarving skills of the people in Betis District. The festival in Guagua concedes with the celebration of Apung Tiago which is from the 28th to 30th of December. The festivities include dancers wearing costumes with woodcarving motifs as well as competitions between woodcarvers.
The festival showcases the woodcarving industry that contributes to the town’s economy. It also encourages more people to enter the craft and maybe one day be a woodcarver themselves. The Dukit Festival hopes to inspire more people through the beauty of the art.
Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival)
The lanterns or parol are traditional Filipino decorations which symbolize hope and light during Christmas time. Ligligan Parul, a parade showcasing the huge lanterns, is on the Saturday before Christmas Eve.
Ligligan Parul means “lantern showdown.” It is a parol-making competition held annually at San Fernando. Each town or municipality of the province must work together to build a giant lantern. The lanterns presented for this festival are usually almost 20ft. in diameter and made of lights turned on and off by an operator. Besides the lamps, the lanterns use colorful plastics that reflect light. The row of lights forms a magnificent sight when seen from a distance.
The coming months will be full of excitement and energy from the following activities. The City of San Fernando will celebrate Fiestang Tugak while Bacolor, Guagua, and Sta. Rita will have Makatapak, Dukit and Duman Festival respectively. Still, the whole province will look forward to Sinukwan Festival and Ligligan Parul. These are but a few of Pampanga’s festivals celebrating their diverse tradition and pride as a people.