Aliwan Fiesta: A Spectacular Showcase of Philippine Culture and Festivals
The Aliwan Fiesta is an annual event that gathers different cultural festivals of the Philippines in Star City Complex in Pasay City, where contingents compete in dance parade and float competitions. Organized by Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) together with Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the cities of Manila and Pasay, the event is dubbed as “the Philippines’ Grandest Fiesta,” with prizes totaling P 3 million (roughly US$ 70,000). The event aims to showcase the different Filipino cultures and heritage not only to the people in Metro Manila but also to the rest of the world.
The Aliwan Fiesta, which began in 2003, is usually held during the summer months of either April or May. The highlight of the event is when all competing festivals show off their dance skills while parading for four kilometers (about 21⁄2 miles) along Roxas Boulevard from Quirino Grandstand to Aliw Theater grounds located near CCP. The festivals range from the well-known such as Dinagyang of Iloilo City, Sinulog of Cebu City, and Panagbenga of Baguio, to the obscure but just-as-interesting feasts like Alikaraw of Hilongos, Leyte, Padang-Padang of Parang, Shariff Kabunsuan, and Pamitinan Festival of Rodriguez, Rizal.
The Aliwan Fiesta is divided into three categories: Cultural Street Dance Competition (the main event), Float Parade, and Reyna ng Aliwan (Queen of Entertainment/Amusement) competition. Each contingent in the cultural street dance competition—totaling up to 100 dancers as well as hundreds of musicians and support staff members—have undergone stringent elimination cycles during various local festivals before being chosen to compete in Aliwan Fiesta. Each participating float is only allowed to use local textiles, produce, flowers, and other products specific in their representing city in decorating the vehicles. The Reyna ng Aliwan is a beauty pageant that showcases the most beautiful women of the Philippines who represent their respective cultural festivals.