Soli-soli Festival

Soli-soli Festival is a cultural and religious festival in San Francisco in Camotes Islands, Cebu, Philippines every March 19. It is an annual celebration of the importance of soli-soli, a perennial plant that grows in Lake Danao, as an invaluable raw material for the weaving industry and source of livelihood of many townsfolk in the municipality of San Francisco.

It is also a religious fiesta as its schedule coincides with the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the municipality of San Francisco.

Soli-soli Festival is one of the participating fests in Pasigarbo sa Sugbo.


Soli-soli Festival comes from soli-soli, popularly known as broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia).

History of Soli-soli Festival

Soli-Soli Festival is a fest that serves as a platform for cultural expression, promotion of eco-tourism of the town, and the commemoration of the weaving industry based on soli-soli plant which provided livelihood and source of income for the population.

It was launched in 2002 when Alfredo A. Arquillano Jr. was the mayor. Pundok Pag-ambakan, a contingent composed of the barangays Unidos, Santiago, and Himensulan, won the grand prize in its inaugural competition in 2002 as well as in 2003.


The plant is found growing commonly in watery areas such as in or near marshes, lakes, and rivers. This herbaceous plant is typified by an absence of a large stem, and it bears cigar-like flower or fruit.

In San Francisco of Pacijan Island, tall soli-soli stalks grow along the banks of Lake Danao, the largest lake in Cebu and home to hundreds of species of animals, including birds, saltwater crocodiles, and indigenous Philippine eagle.

The grass sprouts wildly and abundantly, and it is harvested by cutting the plant. It is then left to dry for five days. After all moisture is gone, the stalks are dyed by boiling to infuse different colors. It is then dried once again and woven into various handicrafts such as hats, baskets, mats, accessories, bags, ornaments, etc.

Soli-soli is also the central symbol of the fest. It is often found utilized as an emblem on costumes, outfits, accessories, etc.

Through the years, a distinctive dance choreography based on the plant has emerged. The choreography of Soli-soli Festival Dance is based on three basic steps. One is the swaying of hands sideways that resemble the way the plants wave its leaves in the breeze, two is reaping of the soli-soli plant by cutting its stalk, and three is the weaving motion that calls to mind when the plant’s fibers are made into different products.

Devotion to St. Joseph

Soli-soli Festival is also a means to celebrate the fiesta in honor of St. Joseph, the patron of San Francisco.

The devotion to St. Joseph began when Christianity arrived in this town through the Spaniards during the colonial period. Its early settlement was called Suangan or Sulangan, which was derived from a plant that was utilized to power house lamps.

Missionaries belonging to Society of Jesus, more commonly known as Jesuits, established its church as a visita of Poro Parish. It attained parochial status when it separated from Poro and became a parish on June 23, 1863.

Suangan was renamed San Francisco. It is uncertain how it acquired its name given the fact that its patron is St. Joseph. The name of the town might have come from a saintly person who died in the Castilian period.

Another account suggests that when it was time to choose its patron, its church received the image of St. Joseph, which was intended for Pilar Parish Church. Pilar Church, on the other hand, received the image of St. Francis Xavier.

Soli-soli Festival Activities

Religious services such as procession, novena, and masses are held at St. Joseph Parish Church.

Secular activities are organized by the local government and they include: street dancing, Soli-soli Festival Queen, ritual showdown, fireworks display, concerts, variety shows, cultural presentations, sports, talent contests, etc.

How to reach San Francisco, Cebu

From Mactan International Airport, take a ride to Danao Port and get on a ferry ride to Camotes Islands.


Soli-soli Festival Summary

NameSoli-soli Festival
ChurchSt. Joseph Parish Church
Contact0917 308 9906
DateMarch 19
FounderAlfredo A. Arquillano Jr.
LocationSan Francisco, Cebu
OrganizerMunicipal Government of San Francisco
PatronSt. Joseph
ReligionRoman Catholic