Ilagan City, Isabela — Team Out of Town and other media delegates were able to witness the Bambanti Festival 2020 last January 27-31. The event was also graced by the Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and other local officials of Isabela.
Named as the “Mother of all Festivals”, Bambanti (Ilocano dialect term) or Scarecrow is one of the most celebrated in Isabela since 1997. It was inducted by former Governor Faustino “Bojie” Dy III and his wife Cecil. The festival consists of many activities including the scarecrow competition, beauty pageants, dance competition, cooking competition, and sports competition between all municipalities or regions.
In 2018, it notched the highly-acclaimed Aliw Awards Hall of Famer for Best Festival Practices and Performance.
During this 5-day festivity, the Local Government Units (LGU’s) invite more than 34 cities to join the festivals and showcase their products from rice, corns, monggo beans, and peanuts. The organizers headed by Vice Governor Faustino “Bojie” Dy III makes sure every year has its theme – and this year was centered into “Patuloy ang Tagumpay ng Pusong Isabela” (Keep On Victory of Isabela Spirit.)
This year, one of the highlights was the Agri-EcoTourism exhibit and sale with the Bambanti Village theme. Each town has its booths mixed in with modern and traditional designs and showcases the products that they are proud of.
On its first day, the Bambanti Festival was opened by a Thanksgiving Mass at St. Michael Cathedral, Upi, Gamu, Isabela and was attended by the provincial officials, as well as municipal and city mayors.
The next days were followed by a wide array of activities including the Makan Ken Mainum Competition, Queen Isabela Coronation Night, Parade of Colors, and Street Dance Competition.
The Provincial Government of Isabela, through its festival, has slated the “iRun for Taal, Color Fun Run” where the proceeds were donated for the victim of the Taal eruption last January 2020. In was also reported that the provincial government of Isabela has sent 2,000 bags of rice for Batangas and Cavite provinces and also raised P100,000.00 for the same recipients.
No Isabela trip is complete without having to try their native delicacies such as Inatata which is glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves – can be compared to suman because of its flavor and the way it’s cooked. There’s also the lechon cordero, pinataro, moreicos, binallay, Bibingkang Kanin, and of course best paired with their corn pastillas and corn coffee.
One of the famous dishes we got to try in Isabela is the Pancit Cabagan. It’s a pancit version where the locals used the Miki noodles as an alternative. This version has more sauce and topped with quail eggs and pork. You should also try Aling Belen’s Longganisa, dubbed as the best in Isabela.
Overall, the Bambanti Festival is a great testament that the Filipinos are fun-loving and knows how to have a good time. It was a generous act to have organized an event for the victims of the recent Taal eruption with almost 2,000 participants. It just goes to show that Bayanihan is very much alive during these times. During these 5 days, everyone was in a festive mood, the parade and the street dancing was a sight to behold.