Last week’s colorful and gleeful streetdance parade and showdown was just a tip of what the Bambanti Festival is as the grandest festival in Cagayan Valley region.

Thousands of people, some came all the from outside Isabela province, flocked to the Isabela Sports Complex to witness 20 towns and two cities perform their festival dances.

True to its title as the Queen Province in the North, Isabela is becoming, in an overwhelming pace, the next big thing in Philippine festivities.

Bambanti, an Ilocano word for scarecrow, is the inspiration behind the celebration.

As an agricultural province, and top corn and rice producer in the country, the Bambanti never sought fear among the Isabelinos. Instead, it draws protection to the livelihoods of thousands of farmers.

Next big thing

There were only a few festivals in the Philippines that depict such icon in a religious manner. For Isabelenos, the Bambanti figure is their icon of hope and dreams.

But beyond the inspiration behind the festival, it was how the province celebrate it.

The production design, in both the stage and the town booths, showed the cooperation and sincerity of the people to place Bambanti Festival into brochures of airlines and hotel magazines.

BAMBANTI VILLAGES. Isabela towns display their products and festival-themed booths at the Bambanti Village in front of the provincial capitol. Photo courtesy of Gov. Bojie Dy’s Facebook page

The judges and guests during the dance competitions are notable artists known in the national limelight, and to mention one, National Artist Alice Reyes.

The “Isabela Kong Mahal” musicale was a spectacular show of the bonded relationship of the Isabelino farmers to its resources: the Bambanti, the carabaos, the Ibong Maya and the crow.

The annual Bambanti Festival is back this year with the warm yet vibrant theme “ISABELA KONG MAHAL” (Isabela, My Beloved Land), committed to showcase the ardent love of Isabeleños for their land of birth.

Like the previous years, the Bambanti Festival is a tourism, trade, and environment project aiming to develop, promote, and market Isabeleños’ world-class indigenous products, lifestyle, merchandise items, and cuisine as pride of place.

But this year has a special focus. It’s the Isabeleños’ warm traits for their beloved land, care and protection for their national resources and environment, love and respect for the culture, history, and heritage of the community, and consistent efforts for a sustainable agriculture and all other industries.

Continuity

Isabela is now one of the most progressive provinces in the Philippines in terms of local income. And it is poised to grow more as the province welcomes more investments from corn and rice processing companies.

The growing economy of the province will ensure continuity of the festival, as there would be so much to thank for every year.

The “united” leadership of Governor Faustino “Bojie” Dy III and Vice Governor Tonypet Albano was bearing good fruits, and it is likely to make Bambanti Festival a continuing success.

Governor Bojie Dy (left) and Vice Governor Tonypet Albano (right) during the Streetdance Parade. Photo courtesy of Gov. Dy’s official Facebook page

The creative concept of Bambanti isn’t just unique, but it implants a meaningful message that sometimes, even the most unrecognized things have done us so much favors; and that they deserve to be celebrated.

After all, the festival is a three-time winner of Aliw Awards, bringing home the title of Best Festival Practices and Performance for the years 2015, 2016, and 2017. Northernforum.net

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