No scaring Isabela’s Bambanti festival

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THE grandest annual festivity in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) kicked off on Monday giving tribute to farmers in Isabela for their hard work and resiliency that has contributed greatly to the province’s abundance.

The third Bambanti Festival started with a thanksgiving Mass at Saint Michael’s Cathedral in Barangay Upi in Gamu town followed by the opening of the Agro-Ecotourism Exhibit and Sale at the provincial capitol in Ilagan City.

“Bambanti” is the Iloco term for scarecrow, a frightening image or effigy of a person which farmers set up in a field to shoo the birds away from their growing crops. It is Isabela’s tribute for the farmers’ hard work and resiliency turning the province into the country’s top producer of rice and corn. Through the years, over 100,000 hectares of cropland are often dotted with scarecrows.

BAMBANTI TIME Colorful scarecrow lead the parade during the opening of the annual weeklong festival as tribute to farmers in Isabela. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN WARREN BUNGIHAN

Gov. Faustino Dy 3rd said the festival’s theme “Isabela kong Mahal (Isabela, My Beloved Land)” depicts Isabeleños love for their motherland and aims to enhance our rich cultural heritage as well as our gains as an agricultural and investment haven in the country.


Located some 400 kilometers north of Manila, Isabela is the biggest province in Region 2 and the third largest in the country with 34 towns and three cities.

Primarily an agricultural province, Isabela is the top producer of hybrid corn and second highest rice grower in the Philippines. It is also home to the biggest corn processing facility in South East Asia.

The province has also been recognized for having the best Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council in the country and received the country’s Hall of Fame Awards for Best Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management councils and committees (Provincial DRRM Council Category) during the 19th Gawad Kalasag award on December 11, 2017.

Gawad Kalasag, the country’s annual award for outstanding contributions to DRRM, also honored Cauayan City’s Rescue 922 for winning another Hall of Fame Award for Best Government Emergency Management Services (GEMS) in the advance search and rescue category.

During the 19th Kalasag Awards, Isabela’s component City of Santiago also won the Best City DRRM Council (independent category), Best Public School (urban category) for Raniag High School in Ramon town and Best Barangay DRRM committee (rural category) for Barangay Alinguigan 2 in Ilagan City.

“The Bambanti Festival is also being celebrated primarily as thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest and the resiliency of the Isabeleños amid the natural calamities that strike the province almost every year,” Dy said.

The annual festival was first launched during the time of then-governor Faustino Dy Jr.

Meanwhile, Vice Gov. Antonio Albano said this year, Bambanti Festival will showcase the province’s culture and eco-tourism potentials and how it evolved into being a major food basket of the country.

It will have street dancing competition depicting a Bambanti, musical street performances, search for Bambanti Festival King and Queen and fireworks display highlighting festivity on Friday and Saturday.

The Bambanti Festival is a three-time winner of the Aliw Awards, bringing home the title for the Best Festival Practices and Performance from 2015 to 2017.

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