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Bambanti Festival 2023: Euphoric Fiesta in Isabela

Bambanti Festival 2023

The 2023 Bambanti Festival was launched by Vice Governor and Director General Faustino “Bojie” Dy III with the Village Agri-Ecotourism Exhibit and Sale, which featured the greatest goods and imaginative interpretations of huge Bambanti from each town and city in the province.

According to Dy, the Bambanti Festival is a way of offering thanks to the Isabeleños, particularly the farmers who uphold the province’s reputation.

Bambanti Festival 2023
Bambanti Festival 2023

He claimed that as a result of the farmers’ perseverance, excellent work ethic, and unwavering survivor spirit, the province received multiple accolades.

The festival’s theme, “Isabela, Pagharap Sa Bagong Hamon Ng Kinabukasan,” heralds the beginning of a “new future” and inspires Isabelinos to overcome obstacles in a setting where economic growth is uncertain. As a result, everyone should strengthen their socio-cultural development, and progress will follow. 

In light of this, the Bambanti Festival will undoubtedly carry on in 2023 with a fresh outlook, encouraging every Isabelino to express his creativity and honor his history through various artistic, cultural, and even culinary events.

Bambanti Festival 2023 Ribbon Cutting
Bambanti Festival 2023 Ribbon Cutting

Provincial, City, and Municipal officials from the province attended a thanksgiving mass before the official start of the 2023 Bambanti Festival. Vice Governor Dy and DOT Regional Director Troy Alexander Miano held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally inaugurate the Bambanti Village.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dy and his wife Mary Anne Dy walked one by one to the Bambanti booths, where 34 LGUs had joined to display their local goods and enormous scarecrows.

The agri-ecotourism booths, which showcase a variety of regional goods from the cities and municipalities for the public to purchase and enjoy, were also formally inaugurated.

Bambanti Festival: “Isabela, Pagharap Sa Bagong Hamon Ng Kinabukasan”

More events was held in the coming days for Isabelenos to attend and take part in, including a fun bike race, a jobs fair, a music festival, the crowning of the winners of the Queen Isabela competition, a fireworks show, a cooking competition, exhibits of creative clothing, a street dance competition, a festival dance showdown competition, and many others.

Dy encouraged Isabelenos and guests to attend this year’s Bambanti Festival so they may enjoy the festivities throughout the week-long festival. PIA Isabela (OTB/MGE)

What is the Bambanti Festival in Isabela?

Bambanti Festival In Isabela

In the Philippines’ province of Isabela, a cultural and Thanksgiving event known as Bambanti is held every fourth week in January. It is often referred to as Isabela’s Scarecrow Festival and is the largest festival in the province. With the Aliw Award for Best Festival Practices and Performance from 2015 to 2017 and the Aliw Award Hall of Fame in 2018, it is a multi-awarded event

Bambanti Festival History

The name Bambanti Festival is derived from the Ilocano word Bambanti, which means scarecrow. In 1997, the inaugural Bambanti Festival was inaugurated. To commemorate the founding of Isabela, it was developed under the direction of Benjamin Dy.

In order to prevent birds from stealing crops like maize and rice, scarecrows are improvised, human-like objects that are erected in farms, fields, and paddies. It is a successful, age-old method of controlling birds that can develop into pests and contaminate farm goods. It is made from a wooden frame with crosswise bars for arms, and typically has a tattered shirt packed with grass or straw to create its body.

Scarecrows have come to represent Isabela, a predominantly agricultural province that ranks first in the production of mung beans, second in the production of rice, and third in the production of corn. The Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of scarecrow-clad individuals was set there in 2019.

The festival has traditionally taken place in May. It has, however, been postponed a few times because it falls in the same month as the national election. Additionally, it was suspended for a while. This led to its revival and relocation to January beginning in 2011 under Faustino G. Dy III. The fact that the weather is generally better in January of every year was another factor in this change.In the Samar town of Calbiga, the scarecrow serves as the focal point of the Pahoy-Pahoy Festival.

Bambanti Festival in Isabela: Ways to go

Option 1: Travel Via Air

You can take a Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to either Cauayan City Airport or Tuguegarao City Airport. There is one flight per day to Cauayan Airport and two flights per day to Tuguegarao. The distance by land between Tuguegarao City and Isabela is roughly 1.3 hours.

Option 2: Travel Via Land

You can board air-conditioned buses like the Victory Liner, Florida, and 5 Star from Pasay, Cubao, or Sampaloc. These bus operators charge 500–600 pesos one way to travel to Isabela’s major towns and cities. 8 to 10 hours, depending on the pauses, are required for the journey. Daily trips depart from Manila on the Victory Liner and the Florida.

Every day, air-conditioned buses cross the Maharlika Highway from Isabela Province to Cagayan Province.

Highlights of 2023 Bambanti Festival in Isabela

The Bambanti Festival in Isabela resumed live performances from Jan. 20 to 28 after a hiatus of two years caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The festival’s 2018 theme was “Isabela, Pagharap sa Bagong Hamon ng Kinabukasan” (Isabela: Facing the New Challenges of the Future)

The province marked the festival’s comeback with a beauty pageant, a cooking competition, and street dancing contests, all of which were hosted amongst agri-ecotourism booths from the region’s towns and cities that offered local goods, in spite of the sporadic rain and the freezing January weather. As early as June 2022, preparations for the celebration this year got underway.

The 31 participating towns and localities have been separated into two categories, A and B, for the festival’s competitions, starting in 2020. Vice-governor of Isabela Mr. Dy explained to BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the festivities that this was done at the request of the local government units and that having two categories allowed for more contingents to win cash prizes that would be given to the winning city or municipality’s projects.

Queen Isabela During Bambanti Festival

On January 25, the Queen Isabela pageant, which had been scheduled to be a part of the event in 2020, was the first competition.  At the magnificent coronation night on January 25, which was held at Queen Isabela Park, Catherine Joy Legaspi of SAN Manuel was crowned Queen Isabela 2023.

Bambanti Festival: Queen Isabela

The enormous amphitheater at the eight-hectare Queen Isabela Park hosted the pageant this year. The large park and province have the name of Queen Isabella II of Spain, who ruled Spain from 1833 until her overthrow in 1868 and had a turbulent reign. The provincial capital, which serves as the seat of government for the province, is fronted by the park.

Roseann Camille Fernandez of the municipality of Quirino transferred the crown to Catherine Joy L. Legaspi of the municipality of San Manuel after retaining it for three years (due to the pandemic). Ms. Legaspi will hold the crown for a year before passing it on to her successor’s queen in 2024, assuming nothing prevents the festival from being canceled once more

She received a P50,000 check as well as other gift coupons from different sponsors.

When asked, “As a member of the younger generation, why do you think we struggle to have a sustained, developed, and advanced agricultural economy if we were dubbed as an agricultural country?,” Legaspi captured the judges’ hearts.”

“For me, it is because we don’t patronize our own first. We used to patronize others’ products before ours. And this is a reminder for everyone that it is not too late to patronize our own and to contribute to the growth of our economy. We must put our country first because our country’s tomorrow depends on how we shape it today,” was Legaspi’s victorious response.

Bambanti Festival: The Newly Crowned Queens of Isabela

Ms. Indigenous Peoples Community, Jaycel Lumauig, was elected first runner-up; Ms. Cauayan, Julie Mae Villanueva, was designated Queen Isabela Tourism; Ms. Ramon, Johanna Trisha Cinco, triumphed as Queen Isabela Culture and Arts; and Ms. Alicia, Cherry Lee Garlijo, was named second runner-up.

Former queens Roseann Camille Fernandez, Zyra Ysabelle April Rola, and Kimberly Jane Madamba Agob, who each held the title for three years as a result of the epidemic, handed up their thrones to the appropriate title winners.

Ronnie Liang, a Filipino singer, actor, model, army reservist, and certified private pilot, entertained the crowd and the competitors by singing Ligaya, Gusto Kita, and perhaps his all-time greatest popular song, Ngiti.

Bambanti Village

The agri-trade expo is held in Bambanti Village. The towns and communities of Isabela participate by setting up booths to showcase their unique goods, handicrafts, other items that are proudly manufactured locally, and stunning tourist sites. Additionally, each community devises original ways to embellish its own booths.

Bambanti Village

Additionally honored were the many booths at The Bambanti Village. The local industries and products of each region served as inspiration for the booth designs, which showcased the goods from that town or city.The futuristic booth of Ilagan City (Category A) and the fairytale forest-themed booth of the municipality of Cordon (Category B) shared first place for the best agri-ecotourism booth.

The different towns and municipalities also constructed enormous scarecrow installations; Dinapigue won in Category A for its enormous beauty queen figure made of dried fish sapsap holding a crown, and Cabatuan won in Category B for its gigantic scarecrow constructed of abaca and rattan.

Bambanti Festival Makan Ken Mainum

The wife of the vice-governor, Mary Ann Arcega-Dy, organized the Makan Ken Mainum (Food and Drink) competition. The tilt, in which competitors test their culinary ingenuity by creating dishes with ingredients and produce from their respective communities, is regarded as the festival’s crowning achievement.

Bambanti Festival: Makan Ken Mainum

Makan Ken Mainum this year accepted younger competitors, ranging in age from nine to fourteen. The decision to choose participants from the various schools was made by the tourism officers from each of the participating contingents. For their dish for the competition, the kids got brief culinary training under the supervision of a cooking instructor.

Its goal, according to Ms. Arcega-Dy, is to identify the distinctive foods and beverages made by Isabelenos that are “puwede natin ipagmalaki sa ating probinsya” (that our province may be proud of), not just in Isabela but throughout the entire country.

Bambanti Festival King and Queen

Bambanti Festival: King and Queen

The top festival dancers are chosen as the Festival King and Queen. They are evaluated based on their poise and the stunning, eye-catching outfits they wear while performing. They stand in for the towns and cities, and the regional festivals celebrated where they are from are reflected in their costumes.

Bambanti Festival: Street Dance

Like other festivals across the nation, the street dance competition and dance showdown are highlights of Bambanti. This year, 20 contingents—divided into two categories: A and B— paraded in vibrant scarecrow costumes and put on three-minute dance performances on the legends, organizations, or pandemic resilience of their locality.

Bambanti Festival: Street Dance

The towns of Echague (Category A) and Quirino (Category B) won first place for the Best Street Dance Showdown Contingent, while the cities of Cauayan (Category A) and San Agustin (Category B) won first place for the Best Street Dance Contingent.

Bambanti Festival Overall Champion

The Quirino municipality won P1 million worth of improvements and became the festival’s overall winner for 2023. With P750,000 worth of development, the municipality of San Agustin came in first place. The municipalities of Alicia and the City of Ilagan tied for second place and were each awarded P250,000 worth of projects.

Isabela: The Province of Bambanti Festival

Provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan were combined to form Isabela. The province, which was given the name Isabela de Luzon, was created by royal proclamation on May 1, 1856. Queen Isabela II of Spain was honored with its name. The Bambanti Festival is held in remembrance of this day.

It is a province that is a part of the Cagayan Valley and is situated on the island of Luzon’s northeastern coast. Along with the surrounding provinces of Cagayan, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Quirino, and Aurora, it is bordered on the east by the Pacific Ocean.

Isabela: The Province of Bambanti Festival

It was formerly populated by members of the Aeta race, then by Malays and immigrants from Indonesia. They were residents of the area known as the Cagayan Valley. It was known as La Provincia del Valle de Cagayan during the time of Spanish colonial authority. It was a sizable area that, in 1841, was divided by royal edict into the provinces of Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya. Its division was intended to promote closer and more powerful control over the locals.


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