Where it was intended to scare, the provincial government of Isabela in Cagayan is proudly hoisting up anew its “bambantis” (scarecrows) to draw visitors to the 2nd Bambanti Festival to be held at the Isabela Sports Complex and the Provincial Capitol Grounds on January 27-30, 2013.
The Bambanti Festival promotes the province of Isabela as the country’s number one corn-producer, a status owed partially to the “bambantis” that help fend off birds feeding during the growing of their rice and corn plants.
The very first Bambanti Festival was held in 1997 and was the brainchild of former Governor Benjamin Dy and wife Cecil Dy. The festival has since become a communal gesture of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest and resiliency of its people despite the occurrences of natural calamities that regularly befall the province.
The festival aims to showcase as well, through its unique cultural, arts and ecotourism activities, Isabela’s rich heritage, the ingenuity and industry of its people, and calls attention to the beauty of its different towns and cities.
“With this festival, we hope to be able to unfold and reveal the hidden beauty and splendor of our province as admittedly, Isabela is not yet known to many,” adds Mary Ann Dy, First Lady of Isabela and co-chair of the Festival’s Excom.
For starters, Isabela has the honor of being named after Spain’s Queen Isabella II through a Royal Decree issued by the King of Spain on May 1, 1856. It is the second largest province in the country next to Palawan, and is composed of 37 towns and cities, and prides itself in having ten first class municipalities and two first class cities. Its present capital Ilagan City is now Luzon’s largest and the country’s fourth biggest city after Davao City, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga City in terms of land area. The province also figured in history when the American forces led by Gen. Frederick Funston finally captured Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in Palanan on March 23, 1901. Isabela also boasts of a 113-kilometer white sand coastline, of being the site of Magat Dam, the biggest dam in the country, and of being the birthplace of musician/singer Freddie Aguilar who was born in Sto. Tomas.
Isabela is no stranger to big events as it already hosted the Timpuyog or the Indigenous Peoples’ Month Celebration in Santiago City in 2007. The province also has a string of festivals that have become tourists magnet for the past years, namely: Pagay Festival (Alicia), Binnadangan Festival (Roxas), Nateng Festival (Mallig), Gakit Festival (Angadanan), Pattaradday Festival (Santiago City), Nuang Festival (San Agustin), Gawagaway-yan Festival (Cauayan City), Mangi Festival (Tumauini), Baka Festival (San Pablo), and Mammangi Festival, Binallay Festival (Ilagan City)
“This year’s Bambanti Festival with the theme ‘The Magic of Isabela’ promises to be a grand display of the magic that is Isabela,” says Bambanti Festival 2013 Executive Committee Chair Tony Pet Albano.
The four-day event is to open with “Mahiwagang Isabela,” a grand musical production staged with the assistance of Philippine Stagers Foundation, which is headed by Executive Director Atty. Vincent M. Tañada. The musical is to be participated by 3,700 dancers from the 37 towns and cities of the province headed by a festival king and queen.
Isabela’s Tourism consultant Nilo Agustin explains that on opening day, no one without a mask will be allowed to enter the capitol grounds, and that masks will even be on hand for visitors in keeping with the mystique-themed event. The province even holds a contest on the “Most Creative Giant Magical Mask” where 36-inch masks will be decorated by each town.
Expectedly, among the highlights of the four-day festival is the “Giant Bambanti Showcase” featuring 12-foot tall (or larger) scarecrows to be dressed up using only organic and indigenous materials by the municipalities and cities of the province, and will be installed outside their respective agri-tourism booths.
Contests also will be held to determine the Best Street-Dance Contingent, and the Festival King and Queen, among others.
Activities also involve the official unveiling of the Queen Isabella II tableau in front of the Isabela Provincial Capitol.
The festival nights promise to turn “magical” with concert-parties top-billed by singers Jed Madela and Vina Morales on January 29, and Sarah Geronimo with Christian Bautista and Jon Santos on January 30, 2013.
The Bambanti Festival 2013 is organized by the Provincial Government of Isabela, through the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, in collaboration with the Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Isabela Green Ladies Organization (IGLO) with the support of the government and corporate institutional partners.
For more information and inquiries, please contact the Office of the Provincial Administrator, Isabela Provincial Capitol, telephone numbers (078) 323-0173 or you may visit www.isabela.ph.
See snippet of "Mahiwagang Isabela"