ILAGAN City, Isabela: The Provincial Government has kicked off the week-long Bambanti (scarecrow) fest for 2015 with a mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Gamu town, with celebrations and outdoor tourist activities set until January 31. Governor Faustino Dy 3rd and Vice Governor Antonio Albano led the opening of the Bambanti Village, which showcases the products of the province’s 37 towns and three cities. This year’s theme centers on Isabela agricultural productivity and cultural preservation. Both local and foreign tourists can expect to witness a feverish street dancing competition and a grand fireworks display at the Isabela Sports Complex in Ilagan City. Dy explained that because the province is the country’s top producer of corn, its over 100,000 hectares of cropland is often dotted with scarecrows, thus the Bambanti festival. The festival was first done in 1997 to promote its tourism and cultural potentials and to supplement its tourist-related activities like cave exploration, beach combing and trekking. Isabela also has a 113-kilometer stretch of white sand lying at the foot of the Philippine’s longest mountain range, the Sierra Madre. It is also home to rare and endangered species like the Green Sea turtle, dugong (sea cow), Philippine Eagle and Golden Crowned flying fox. Also slated for this year’s celebrations are the free medical services, sports competition, street dancing, dance showdown, singing contest and beauty contest.