Bambanti Festival: Isabela’s Scarecrow Festival

  A big part of the lives of people from the Northern Philippines is Agriculture – the bread and butter of most families, if you will. So much of their lives revolve around grains and produce that it’s only fitting for them to dedicate an annual festival for it. “Bambanti” is the Ilocano term for scarecrow. The watchguards of their fields and farms. This year, 20 out of 34 municipalities joined in the festivities. Here’s a recap of my first time at Bambanti Festival 2018: FIRST THINGS FIRST Isabela is the country’s second biggest province in terms of land area, which in turn has led them to become an agricultural giant. Sprawling fields of corn and other grains dominate the province. Getting There

  • By Plane: 1 hour and 10 minute flight from Manila (MNL) to Cauayan (CYZ)
  • By Private Car: 10 hour road trip via NLEX and TPLEX
  • By Public Transport: 10-15 hours via Bus

  BAMBANTI VILLAGE The festivities revolve around Ilagan, Isabela’s capital. A small portion of the grounds is transformed into a village of sorts. Each municipality does their own interpretation of the Bambanti. Some went traditional with human-like sculptures. While others went in the opposite direction and shifted the focus on the other farm helpers. If you look closely, the sculptures are painstakingly decorated with Isabela’s biggest produce – grains. The grains are so abundant that they’re able to use them as decoration. Divilacan, a coastal town, used shells instead of grains as part of their booth. Expect a big crowd especially when you come in on the weekend. Aside from their Bambanti sculptures, each municipality also proudly showcased their products. The town of Palanan proudly shows off their weaving industry. The town of Quezon displayed their skills in the cotton-knitting trade. Quirino, Isabela had an amazing display of woodwork. I loved this 8-piece Farmer’s set, which proudly displays all the roles the community plays in farming. One of the interesting products that caught my eye was this Bugnay Wine from Tumauini. Bugnay is a local wild berry that has a close resemblance to grapes, albeit smaller.   MAKAN KEN MAINUM Aside from the Agri Eco-Tourism booths, there is also an annual cooking contest organized by Mrs. Ann Dy, the wife of Governor Faustino Dy III. Representatives from each municipality compete to create a dish based on the main ingredient. The chosen ingredient for 2018 is Kambing (Goat). The winning drink and dish both came from Echague. The Makan ti Isabela is a Fried Sweet and Sour Adobo, while the winning Mainum ti Isabela is called a special fruit drink called Illuru.   STREET DANCE SHOWDOWN As with any festival in the Philippines, there always has to be a dance component. All the participating municipalities prepared for months to come up with their own exciting presentations. The costumes were masterfully created and all the little details down to the gloves were given much thought. Some of the groups even opted to use face paint to keep the concept of the scarecrow alive. There was even a town who all had the same hair and makeup. Each municipality also has their own festival king and queen leading the dance group. I particularly liked the detail on this dress. Where there’s dancing, there’s also singing. Part of the event included a chorale singing competition. The Children’s Choir from Cauayan took home the price for their refreshing rendition of Piliin mo ang Pilipinas.   CLOSING CONCERT This year’s artists were 4th Impact, Ogie Alcasid, Jona,  and McCoy de Leon and Elisse Joson.   FINAL THOUGHTS I feel proud knowing that Filipino skills and craftsmanship are being utilized in efforts to celebrate and preserve culture and livelihood. It’s no wonder the Bambanti Festival keeps bagging awards at the annual Aliwan Festival. It is my hope that more people come to visit Isabela and partake in the festivities. Related Blog Post: Bambanti Festival 2017: The Pride Of Isabela Live an Awesome Life, Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: Our trip was courtesy of the Government of Isabela. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. The houses in the Bambanti Village are still up and standing in front of the Capitol. Stop and visit if you find yourself in Isabela anytime soon!

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