Jaro Festival in Iloilo - Philippines
Location and Cost
Jaro is a town in Iloilo that celebrates a grand fiesta every year. The fiesta honors the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, the town's patroness. She is the lady of the candles. You can reach Jaro by taking a local airline from Manila bound for Iloilo city. From the city you can take a van or a bus ride going to Jaro. The air fare usually costs around five thousand up to six thousand for a round trip ticket.
What to see in Jaro
The fiesta starts each February 2. The homes in Jaro usually prepare a feast and let anyone in and share their food to people who wants to visit and have fun with them. One of the fiesta's highlight is the large parade of young ladies from the affluent families in the town. A procession of Mother Mary also follows showing her different images. It is a famous celebration which many know as the fiesta of Candelaria. It is celebrated with different activities and events. One of the popular events is a beauty pageant in which one lady gets crowned as the queen of the fiesta or Jaro's queen. The candidates come from very families that are very prominent in the town. They should have come from Iloilo even if they live there or abroad.
To several people Candelaria also equates one full week of cockfighting. This is locally called as the "sabong" or "bulang". Many fighters come to Jaro. They can come from any part of the country. They do the fights inside the coliseum of the small town of San Isidro. This is perhaps the Philippines' largest derby of cockfighting.
Anyone who likes cockfighting and other fans of cockbreeding can join. They can be a small-time hobbyist or a popular breeder. Some fighters are land owners. Some are even the owners of big sugar plantations. Most of the fighters come from Mindanao and Negros provinces. Others include rich people from Ilocos and Palawan. Some politicians also join the gamble and enjoy the fights. The stakes can get pretty high and people can also win a lot. To most of the people however the meaning of the fiesta centers on the activities of the Cathedral of Jaro and the people's devotion to the lady.
According to the famous legend several years ago the image was found by some fishermen along the river of Iloilo. It was one foot in height but it was too heavy. Many people tried lifting it but they did not succeed. They were only able to lift it when they decided to bring it to Jaro. Many people believe that their patroness performs miracles. Many old people said that the lady has a bad habit of leaving the altar and reappearing again the next morning. Some stories tell of a lovely lady with long hair that was seen having a bath with a child at the plazas well.
The Cathedral is one of the best reasons you should visit Jaro besides taking part in the festivities or joining the derby. Another interesting activity during the fiesta is going in the markets and finding great bargains. Some sellers also offer used products. You will also enjoy seeing the local products made in Jaro.