Bambanti Festival makes a colorful splash in the province of Isabela in Region 2 as a celebration of her bounty, the resiliency, strength and resoluteness of her people despite adversity and determination in its bid to become the premier agro-industrial hub in the Pacific. It is symbolized by the bambanti, the local term for scarecrow. The Bambanti Festival used to be celebrated every May, as part of Isabela Day, starting in 1997. But in 2013, Governor Faustino Dy III declared it as a separate festival held every January. Although the province has 34 municipalities and three cities, not all joined as some were still recovering from supertyphoon Lawin which devastated Isabela and surrounding provinces in October 2016.
Isabela as a premier agricultural province
It’s quite colorful, as the different municipalities of the province join and compete in the street dancing, the booth competition which showcases their own produce, in coming up with the best bambanti effigy, and many more. The Bambanti Village becomes the centerpiece of the festival, built at the sprawling Provincial Capitol grounds. Each municipal booth sells fresh produce and processed products. The event itself is a showcase of what Isabela has to offer the world.
But its not all about dancing and exhibition. The Bambanti Festival also showcases agri-technology with demos in project booths. Another interesting sidelight is the search for the best inabraw. This northern dish is a stew made of grilled fish and vegetables and is similar to pinakbet. Municipalities create their own versions.
It’s culmination day of the Bambanti Festival when it is the grandest. There are colorful street dancing, hiphop competition, the search for the Festival King and Queen, the best ensemble capped with an entertainment showcase from talents of ABS-CBN, a national TV network who prepared a musical, a variety show and amazing vocal talent from its stable of artists. Fireworks ended the Bambanti Festival 2017.
The Bambanti Festival visit was made possible by the Office of the Provincial Governor of Isabela.
Province of Isabela
23-28 January 2017