Always on my bucket list is to attend and celebrate festivals in the Philippines. During my previous travel to Romblon, most of my friends told me that I had to visit one of the festivals celebrated on the island, which is the Biniray Festival.
I was also told that though many of its citizens are overseas or in big cities, most of them come home to their homeland to witness and be part of this event. As they all say, there is no place like home!
Together with the Department of Tourism – MIMAROPA, Dream Favor Travel Tours, and the Local Government Units’ support, I was given an opportunity to experience this on a 6-day tour around Romblon and Sibuyan Island.
How to get to Romblon, Romblon Island?
1. Go to Batangas Port, where you can hop on to a Ferry to Romblon Island. Remember that it normally leaves at night and arrives in the morning. It is also recommended to book online via https://travel.2go.com.ph
2. You can also catch a flight to Tablas and ride a ferry to Romblon Island via www.cebupacificair.com
Brief History of Biniray Festival
The Biniray takes place during the second week of January following the TONTON Mass. The Biniray is a fluvial procession of the boats gaily decorated with colorful bunting with the lead boat carrying the image of the Sto. Nino. The boats go around the Romblon Bay 7 times, which replications the 7 failed attempts of the Loarca to sail out of Romblon.
After the failed attempts, the image of Sto. Nino was returned to the church, and the crowd was so happy. The people who joined the Biniray painted their bodies with soot or a black dye to color their bodies to represent one of the native people on the island called ATI. Some put on vines and flowers and dance to the sounds of gongs, drums, and Kayutang or bamboo tubes and sticks.
Where to stay on Romblon Island?
Dream Paradise Mountain Resort | Brgy. Mapula, Romblon
For inquiries and reservation, you may contact the following numbers:
09774576515 | 09087482272 | 09496513368
This is probably one of the nicest and peaceful resorts to stay in Romblon. It is the only resort that is Accredited Resort by the Department of Tourism. The resort is approximately 30 minutes away from the main town. They have a nice swimming pool where you can relax. They have a restaurant, and seriously, the food was amazing!
The staff is very friendly, and the view of the rice-fields from the horizon was also relaxing to look at. It’s definitely a great place to stay and relax in Romblon!
TONTON NG STO NINO MASS
After a nice tour to some of the nicest places on the island I will write soon, we went to SAINT JOSEPH CATHEDRAL to witness the TonTon ng Sto Nino. So many people and devotees gathered around the Church to witness the once a year ceremony where the miraculous Sto Nino is taken out from the church to be paraded around the town.
After the mass, the Sto Nino was taken out, and people tried to get a hand on or at least touch the glass box with their handkerchiefs. I am not a Catholic, but I am just so overwhelmed by the people’s extreme devotion and faith. It was actually fascinating to witness everything!
After a nice breakfast at the Dream Paradise Mountain Resort, we went to the main town to witness the much-awaited Biniray Festival. As we arrived, all we could see were smiles and the excitement of the people everywhere. People are waving at you, giving you drinks early in the morning while dancing through the beat of the drums.
We first went to one of their main public schools where all the participants of the festivals gathered. Before they get busy, we walked around and took some snapshots of the performers wearing their colorful and festive costumes.
One of the highlights of the Biniray Festival is the street dancing competition. But before that, the participants and other sponsors get ready for the street parade. Different towns participated with their own unique and elaborate costumes gracing the streets around Romblon’s main town.
We were also told that many years ago, they were not very lucky with the weather. But this year, the skies were clear, and it was sunny, so everybody was so happy and outside their homes to witness the festival.
People of all ages and walks of life participated in the parade, from the children up to seniors, everyone had a great time. Whatever your gender is, as long we all have the same Faith, that’s all that matters, really! And that’s what I love about Festivals here in the Philippines.
Biniray Drum Beats
A festival is never complete without the beat of the drums. It would be very difficult not to dance to the beat, especially when you hear all of them playing the drums. Watching them play together, I can feel the power of the music. Similar to street dancing, I am sure they have to put so much work and dedication into this, that is why hats off to all the participants of this festival!
Towards the end of the street dance parade, we saw probably one of the cutest kids ever! He was dressed up in Gold as a Sto Nino! Everybody he walked past would like to have a photo taken with this little kid. He’s so adorable!
The celebration carried on until night time, and it was a happy day for everyone. It was exhausting, but it was worth it. It was a happy crowd, and I feel like one day is not enough! But moreover, I was very happy that we have festivals like this! That our future generation can enjoy and something, they and we can be proud of!
Aside from the fun and the festivity, one of the things I won’t forget are the smiles of the people. It was like all your worries washed away that day; everyone just wanted to have a good time. This is definitely one of the festivals I will never forget, and I would love to come back again!