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January in the Philippines means mild climate (or as mild as the tropics can get), people trying their darndest to hold on to their New Year’s resolutions, and the Sto. Niño festivals.
Many of you are no doubt flying out to Cebu for the Sinulog festival or to Kalibo for the Ati-atihan festival, or to Ilo-ilo for the Dinagyang festival next week. If this is your first time to attend a Philippine festival, here are some handy tips for you:
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For any travel, comfortable footwear is a must!
Research. It’s not enough to know when the festival is, you must also know when the highlights are, and where the best to experience it. The bigger festivals, like Sinulog can be strict with crowd control. During the street parade, you can’t get close to the performers, unless you have a media pass. The Ati-atihan, on the other hand, lets spectators parade and dance with the groups (you’ll probably even get plied with alcohol while you march on).
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You’ll be out in the sun for a good part of the day, it might rain, it might get unbearably humid, and you’ll probably end up standing up or walking for hours. Be kind to yourself and dress as comfortably as you can.
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Pack some snacks and drinks. Once you find the perfect spot, you might have to stay there for hours just so you won’t lose it to the crowd. There will probably be enterprising people flitting about selling cold water and snacks, but they can be severely overpriced. By bringing your own baon, you not only save some money, but you also avoid a tantrum that can happen when you’re hungry. Now your only problem is locating the nearest toilet.
Bring your portable entertainment. It can take ages for the groups to reach your vantage point, so bring something to keep you entertained in the meantime. Books are great, and requires no battery. If you’re dependent on your gadgets, make sure that you have your battery packs ready (and fully charged), and make sure your belonging are secured.
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Bring your kikay kit. Not the whole caboodle, but the essential ones that can help you stay fresh throughout the day: wet wipes, face and body mist. Don’t forget the sunblock, too!
Be prepared for the crowds. Seriously. You’ll be in the middle of a sweaty sea of people, and it’s going to be hot, it’s going to be traffic all over, but it’s going to be so much fun!
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