What to do in the Philippines?

  Chapter 

Entertainment & Activities

  • The Philippines is a Christian country (mostly Catholic) with a Muslim minority. Most celebrations and public holidays are of the catholic variety.
  • Islamic holidays days are also observed but generally only in the Muslim parts of the country. However, some days have now been added to the national Public Holiday calendar.

Public holidays, traditional celebrations & festivals

  • The Black Nazarene Procession is dedicated to the 16th century ebony shrine depicting Jesus Christ and takes place three times a year: 9 January, Good Friday and 31 December with the procession in January being the largest. Barefoot followers try to touch the shrine for good fortune.
  • Ati Atihan is a week-long Festival celebrating Santo Niño (baby Jesus) culminating on the third Sunday of January. It’s a festival with a long history and rooted in age old traditions. Celebrations include a parade, tribal dance, traditional music and indigenous costumes.
  • Not for the faint hearted, Good Friday is celebrated in San Fernando on Luzon with a procession of around twenty people carrying a cross on their back whilst being lashed with bamboo sticks. The bloody affair climaxes with a mass crucifixion. The twenty participant are hung on their cross for around ten minutes to test their faith.
  • The Masskara Festival in the third weekend of October has its origins in 1980 during a time of economic hardship and after a large ship sank leading to many casualties. The festival was introduced as ‘the festival of smiles’ with participants wearing colourful masks adorned with smiles to pull the people out of the doom and gloom of the crisis.


  • As it’s an island nations, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of the most popular activities in the Philippines are water based. Scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, kayaking and deep-sea fishing are just some of the many nautical pastimes.
  • There are also plenty of great mountain biking tracks, challenging mountains to climb and interesting volcanoes to explore.
  • Poverty and slum life are unfortunately a large part of the ‘real’ Manila. You can visit the slums to take in ‘the other side’ of the bustling party capital. Discover the old parts of town and take a moment to take in the reality of the slums, for example the 25000 people living and working on Smokey Mountain, the city’s largest dump where its inhabitants pick up garbage for a living.
  • Learn Filipino, the national language of the Philippines. Courses often include Filipino culture and history.

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