higantes 
Source: Behold Philippines

Higantes Festival: Rizal’s Colorful Giants

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  • Post last modified:November 4, 2023
  • Reading time:21 mins read

The Higantes Festival in Rizal (if you’re familiar with Spanish, and so its name suggests) is a festival of giants. Well, not literally giants. 

The festival features colorful giants often made of paper. These huge paper-mache figures always wow people and wow them more because of their history. 

The Higantes Festival isn’t just about the giants, though. You can also enjoy great food and activities during the festival. In this post, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about Rizal’s Higantes Festival. 

What Is Higantes Festival?

Angono, Rizal annually celebrates the Higantes Festival, where massive paper-mache figures, some as tall as twelve feet, become the town’s focal point. 

These figures show the town’s enduring spirit from the days of Spanish rule. Today, they capture Angono’s vibrancy, marching along to the beat of music as people cheer. The festival, filled with games, arts, and dance, happens every November and draws crowds from Rizal and outside the province. 

Where Is Higantes Festival Celebrated?

where is higantes festival celebrated
Source: ABS-CBN

The Higantes Festival is celebrated in Angono, Rizal, Philippines. 

The town is known for its art and culture, which come to life during the festival. During this time, the streets feature bright colors and the air fills with the buzz of activities that showcase the town’s rich cultural background. From the lakeside to the heart of the town, the event reflects the vibrant life and community spirit of Angono.

When Is Higantes Festival Celebrated?

The Higantes Festival is usually done on the Sunday before the town feast. The exact date varies each year. This year, the event will take place on November 19. 

The event honors and thanks the town’s patron, Saint Clement. Based on Angono folklore, the giants were used during agricultural protests during the dwindling years of the Spanish colonization when Angono was a large tract of agricultural land (hacienda).

Higantes Festival History

higantes festival history
Source: OnePropertee

The Higantes Festival has an engaging history that dates back to the Spanish colonial period in Angono. Back then, the town was dotted with big estates and strict landlords. As a result, the local workers started making large paper-mache figures known as higantes (giants). These figures, originally made for amusement during tough times, became symbols of light-hearted defiance against the landlords. The higantes eventually became a part of the local San Clemente celebration.

Over time, the festival shifted from its more serious origins to a cheerful and festive occasion. It evolved from quiet resistance to a vibrant display of Angono’s collective artistic skills and community spirit. 

Now, the festival expresses Angono’s cultural and artistic history, with the community coming together to celebrate it. Each year, the festival introduces new stuff, merging the town’s historical heritage with modern art.

Higantes Festival Description

higantes festival description
Source: Philippine News Agency

Think about towering, colorful figures parading down the streets to the beat of local music. 

Introducing the higantes, the giant paper-mache icons at the heart of Angono’s Higantes Festival. Town artists spend months preparing these grand figures. They also show Angono’s creativity and originality. 

The festival also features exhibitions, live performances, cooking contests, fashion shows, singing competitions, theater plays, fun runs, dance shows, and more. Of course, the highlight is the Higantes Festival Grand Parade, where over a hundred giant mascots (higantes) parade on the streets from morning until afternoon. This year, the parade will start at seven in the morning. 

Also, the town’s higantes will represent those who have brought honor and pride to the town this year. Aside from this, people will honor the town’s patron saint by holding a mass before the morning fluvial and street parade. 

But this year’s festivities have lots of events lined up. This year, the event starts on November 3, when the Ginoo at Binibining Angono Higantes festival pre-pageant was held. The next day, the Higantes Festival Poetry Writing Contest was held, followed by the Bike Race and Art Capital Exhibit the next day.

Higantes Festival Costume

During the Higantes Festival, the costume is as captivating as the giant mascots. They feature an array of bright hues, diverse patterns, and shiny accessories that capture attention. These works of art reflect the Philippines’ rich culture and Angono’s creativity.

Local designers usually draw inspiration from the nation’s history, myths, the natural world, and everyday Filipino scenes. Some giants even have capes, elaborate headgear, and layered garments.

Attendees of the Higantes Festival also get into the festive mood, with some wearing bright clothes and face paint, which adds to the carnival atmosphere. People of all ages also dress up and enjoy the festivities.

Delicacies You Should Try

Here are the delicacies you shouldn’t miss while enjoying the Higantes Festival in Rizal:

1. Ube Puto

ube puto

A twist on a classic Filipino snack, Angono’s ube puto stands out. Often bought from stores specializing in homemade treats, many people buy ube puto as pasalubong. They bring home a piece of Angono, Rizal, with this delicious soft puto. Plus, you don’t have to break the bank with this snack since it’s easy on the pocket. 

2. Sinabawang Balut at Buntot ng Baka 

sinabawang balut at buntot ng baka higantes festival
Source: Bitesized

This unique dish combines balut (boiled fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside) and buntot ng baka (oxtail). Cooks then stew these ingredients with herbs and spices to create a rich and special soup.

Sinabawang balut at buntot ng baka first originated from a restaurant in Rizal serving specialty dishes. While this dish isn’t made for daily consumption, those who love unfamiliar food or want a food adventure try this dish. And if we were you, better try this out. The richness of the balut, when combined with the oxtails’ tenderness, just brings everything together. 

3. Ensaladang Bougainvillea

ensaladang bougainvillea higantes festival
Source: Facebook

Translated to bougainvillea salad, this dish features the flower as the main ingredient. 

The bougainvillea flower not only hinges on the colorful blooms. It’s delicious and refreshing as well. In fact, the salad goes well with greens like baby arugula and baby spinach. 

In most cases, it comes with balsamic vinegar and honey. Some cooks add cheese, which gives the Filipino dish a more sophisticated flavor profile. You can also enjoy it with nuts (if you’re not allergic to them). 

4. Minaluto

minaluto higantes festival
Source: Facebook

If you want to taste a festive platter from Angono, Rizal, you better try minaluto. 

Inspired by paella, minaluto includes lots of seafood such as squid, mussels, prawns, and crab. For a hearty Filipino twist, cooks add kangkong, fried pork, chicken adobo, salted red egg, tomatoes, eggplant, and okra. 

They then arrange these ingredients on top of two kinds of rice: yellow fried rice and pink rice. Cooks serve everything in a bilao, a large woven bamboo tray​ for that authentic Filipino feel. 

5. Dinilawang Kanduli sa Alagaw

dinilawang kanduli sa alagaw
Source: Facebook

This dish has a yellow soup similar to sinigang sa miso. However, it’s a little bit less sour. Cooks flavor it using turmeric and alagaw (a medicinal plant native to the Philippines). 

Aside from its refreshing tastes, dinilawang kanduli sa alagaw has many health benefits. A lot of locals also use it as a remedy for minor issues like the common cold and to improve digestion. 

6. Suman at Mangga 

suman at mangga

Sticky rice (suman) and mango (mangga) are often associated with Antipolo, another town in Rizal. Inspired by a Thai dish (khao niao mamuang), Rizal’s version usually comes with condensed or evaporated milk on the side. Some even add kasuy (cashews), ube halaya (ube jam), or latik (brown grated coconut) on top.

The dish comes with suman (glutinous rice cooked in sugar and coconut milk wrapped in coconut leaves) paired with ripe mangoes. 

You can also dip the suman coconut jam for added sweetness. This snack is so popular in Rizal that people line up for it, especially after morning masses. 

7. Adobong Palaka

adobong palaka
Source: Reddit

Adobong palaka uses frogs cooked in the traditional adobo style. Adobo is one of the most famous cooking methods in the country, typically involving marinating the main ingredient in a mix of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns. This marinade gives the meat a rich, tangy, and aromatic flavor, balanced by soy sauce’s saltiness and vinegar’s sharpness.

The frog meat’s unique flavor and texture give people a different experience from the regular chicken or pork adobo. You see, frog meat is similar to chicken in terms of texture. However, it has a slightly fishier taste, which absorbs the adobo sauce well. 

While adobong palaka is less popular than chicken or pork adobo, it is still part of the Rizal culinary scene. For those interested in Philippine cuisine, adobong palaka is a less-explored dish that can be as tasty as its more common counterparts. 

8. Sinigang 

sinigang

The Philippines’ beloved sour soup gets its flavor from tamarind. In fact, a lot of Filipinos will say sinigang is their favorite dish. 

In case you don’t know, sinigang contains eggplant and kangkong (water spinach). Different versions come with pork, fish, or shrimp, each absorbing the soup’s tang to create a wonderful dish. Plus, sinigang goes well with chilly days. You can also eat it as comfort food that offers homely and hearty flavors. 

9. Adobo

adobo

Known for its rich salty (due to soy sauce) and tangy flavor (due to vinegar), adobo is one of the best dishes you can try in the Philippines. 

But adobo’s charm goes beyond its taste— it also reminds us of childhood shared meals. Plus, you can’t go wrong with the meat marinated and simmered to tenderness. 

A common dish at Filipino social events, people eat it with rice. The soft rice perfectly catches the delicious sauce. Plus, adobo is more than a meal— it’s also a part of Filipino warmth and hospitality. 

10. Lechon 

lechon

A celebrated dish in the country, Angono’s lechon has extremely crispy skin. Seasoned with aromatic spices like lemongrass, garlic, and bay leaves, lechon is worth dying for. 

A great variation of this dish is Angono’s lechon belly, which you can find in food bazaars and malls. We suggest you get the boneless lechon belly for that rich, meaty pork everyone loves. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Higantes Festival celebrated?

The Higantes Festival is celebrated because of Angono’s patron Saint Clement. During the festival, giant mascots (higantes) made of paper-mache parades on the town’s streets after a mass held for Saint Clement. 

When and where is Higantes Festival celebrated?

The Higantes Festival is held the Sunday before the town feast in Angono, Rizal. The date varies each year, but in 2023, the festival is held on November 19. 

How did the Higantes Festival start?

The Higantes Festival started as a form of quiet mockery or protest by the locals against horrible Spanish landlords or hacienda owners when the Spanish colonial rule was dwindling in Angono, Rizal. During that time, the town was mainly agricultural land tilled by poor farmers. 

What is the meaning of Higantes?

The meaning of Higantes is giant, huge, massive, or extraordinary in size. 

What are higantes made of?

Higantes are made of paper-mache. They’re often ten to twelve feet high. Locals made them as a form of protest against cruel Spanish hacienderos abusing poor farmers. 

What are the rituals and activities of Higantes Festival?

The rituals and activities of the Higantes Festival include the grand parade, holy mass for Saint Clement, exhibitions, live performances, pageants, cooking contests, fashion shows, singing competitions, theater plays, fun runs, and dance shows. 

Conclusion

The Higantes Festival in Rizal is a vibrant celebration you shouldn’t miss. Giant, colorful paper-mache figures parade through Angono, accompanied by delicious local food and lively activities.

So whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just in for some good fun and tasty eats, the Higantes Festival is the place to be. Join it and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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