Home Festivals Philippine Festivals Bambanti Festival 2017: Celebrating the World’s First and Only Scarecrow Festival

Bambanti Festival 2017: Celebrating the World’s First and Only Scarecrow Festival

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Bambanti Festival 2017 Street Dancers
Bambanti Festival 2017 Street Dancers

Bambanti Festival 2017: Celebrating the World’s First and Only Scarecrow Festival in Isabela Province

The Philippines’ Spanish colonial heritage is very alive. One evidence of this is the presence of various festivals in almost every town in the archipelago. Festivals, known locally as “fiestas”, originate from the Spanish period. Fiestas, which celebrated patron saints assigned to each town, were the Spaniards’ way of promoting Christianity. Eventually, fiestas evolved into celebrating not only saints, but also bountiful harvests, higantes, bird replicas, and even, I learned recently, scarecrows.

Bambanti Festival 2017 Festival Grounds
Bambanti Festival 2017 Festival Grounds

Along with fellow travel bloggers and writer, I was invited to visit Isabela province last January 25 to 29, 2017 to celebrate Bambanti Festival 2017. “Bambanti” is an Ilocano word that means scarecrow. The festival was formally established last 2010, under the governance of Governor Benjamin Dy, the older brother of the current provincial governor. The festival celebrates Isabela’s abundant harvest, farmers, and the province’s cultural heritage. This year’s Bambanti Festival is centered on the theme “Isabela Para sa Daigdig” (translates to Isabela for the Universe).


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Inabraw Cooking Competition
Inabraw Cooking Competition
Local Products from Isabela Province
Local Products from Isabela Province
Scarecrow dressed like a Beauty Queen in Bambanti Festival 2017
Scarecrow dressed like a Beauty Queen in Bambanti Festival 2017

I’ve been a traveler for such a long time now, so I almost found it funny how I didn’t hear of Isabela’s Bambanti Festival earlier. The first time I heard of the festival was only when I received the invitation to cover the fiesta. The PR told me that the festival already won two Aliw Awards for Best Festival Practices and Performances. The thought of attending a local festival that I haven’t heard of sprang me up to my feet. There was nothing stopping me. I immediately counted myself in.

Day 1: Agro-ecotourism Booths and Giant Bambanti galore

Our first stop when we got to Isabela was at the Bambanti Village at the Provincial Capitol Grounds. There were several booths around, and we visited some very unique-looking booths, which were called Agro-ecotourism Booths. Each of the 34 towns and 3 cities in Isabela had its own booth to display.

Miss Universe Scarecrow
Miss Universe Scarecrow
Miss Scarecrow Universe
Miss Scarecrow Universe

Isabela is the Philippines’ leading producer of rice and corn, so most of the booths showcased those. The booths sort of reminded me of the Pahiyas Festival, but instead of house fronts, the local products were displayed in different special booths. Out of habit, I almost got lost in thought while looking for an ideal souvenir to take home afterwards.

San Isidro Bambanti Booth
San Isidro Bambanti Booth

What caught my attention most, however, was the giant scarecrows that were designed after the festival’s theme. Each booth had its grandiose display of bambanti. I was blown away by the creativity. I never thought that scarecrows could become so big, colorful,  and fun to look at. My favorites were the giant Robot Scarecrow, and the Miss Universe Scarecrow.

Cordon Bambanti Booth
Cordon Bambanti Booth
Cabagan Bambanti Festival 2017 Agro Tourism Booth
Cabagan Bambanti Festival 2017 Agro Tourism Booth

The atmosphere was very lively, and more activities were yet to occur on the next day of our trip.

Day 2: Bambanti Festival  2017 Street Dance Showdown

We visited Ilagan Sports Complex on our second day. It’s the venue for the Bambanti Festival Street Dance Showdown. We were given Media IDs to give us the freedom to walk around the Sports Complex and take pictures of the street dancers before and during the showdown.

Bambanti Street Dancers
Bambanti Street Dancers

I would like to commend the festival organizers for their good preparation of the Street Dance Showdown. The contingents from various towns and cities first performed uniform dance steps to showcase their costumes. Afterwards, each town or city was given time for an individual performance in their stage to showcase their own unique dance moves.

Bambanti Festival 2017 Street Dancers
Bambanti Festival 2017 Street Dancers
Bambanti Festival Street Dance Contingent
Bambanti Festival Street Dance Contingent

The entire show was incredibly good and is one of the liveliest and most impressive festivals I’ve seen in the entire archipelago. It had a very well-polished stage production, lighting, and sound system. The bright stage with an LED display, accompanied by professional live video coverage and even drone feeds, made me felt the province of Isabela’s seriousness in wanting to promote the festival, and by making it one of the most popular festivals in the country. This is a very huge feat for a festival that just started seven years ago.

Day 3: Bambanti Festival 2017 Awards Night

We attended the awarding ceremony during our last day in Isabela, which was held in Ilagan Sports Complex as well. The town of Roxas was the overall champion for the year’s festival, and won three major awards: Festival Queen and King, and Best Giant Bambanti. The town, represented by Mayor Jonathan Calderon, received Php1 million worth of projects from the provincial government, headed by Governor Faustino Dy III and Vice Governor Antonio Albano.

Coming in next to Roxas was Quirino, Cauayan City, Alicia, and Luna. Each received Php750,000, Php500,000, Php300,00, and Php200,00 cash prize, respectively.

Below is a list of the winners for all the competitions held:

Best Hiphop Bboy

  • 5th – Jones
  • 4th – Alicia
  • 3rd – Cabagan
  • 2nd – Cauayan
  • 1st – Santiago City

Kusinero ng Isabela Inabraw expert

  • 4th – Cauayan
  • 3rd – Cabatuan
  • 2nd – San Mateo
  • 1st – Tumaini

Best Festival King and Queen Costume

  • 5th – Roxas
  • 4th – Cauayan
  • 3rd – San Mateo
  • 2nd – Ramon
  • 1st – Luna

Festival King and Queen

  • 5th – San Manuel
  • 4th – Echague
  • 3rd – Luna
  • 2nd – Cauayan
  • 1st – Roxas

Giant Bambanti

  • 5th – San Mariano
  • 4th – Delpin Albano
  • 3rd – San Agustin
  • 2nd – Quirino
  • 1st – Roxas

Agri-tourism Booth

  • 5th Jones
  • 4th Palanan
  • 3rd Dinapigue
  • 2nd Quirino
  • 1st San Agustin

Best in Street Dance

  • 5th – Cauayan
  • 4th – Cabatuan
  • 3rd – Echague
  • 2nd – Alicia
  • 1st – Quirino

Dance Showdown

  • 5th – Echague
  • 4th – Cauayan
  • 3rd – Luna
  • 2nd – Mallig
  • 1st – Alicia

After the awarding ceremony, the crowd was further pumped up with a performance by three of the Pinoy Boy Band Superstars finalists, and serenaded by The Voice finalist Daryl Ong. Celebrity singers from ABS-CBN also joined the night. These were KZ Tandigan, Yeng Constantino, Angelina Quinto, and Kyla.

To end the concert with a bang was a Grand Fireworks Display that inevitably gave me a stiff neck, but a satisfied traveler soul.

Bambanti Festival Grand Fireworks Display
Bambanti Festival Grand Fireworks Display

I would like to thank Gov. Faustino Dy III and Vice Gov. Tonipet Albano for inviting us to cover the event. I would have been left in the dark about this impressive festival if it weren’t for the invitation. The efforts poured by the Isabeleños on Bambanti Festival 2017 is something that I will never forget. Isabela is one of the provinces that was badly hit by Supertyphoon Lawin just last October 2016, but the success of this festival just showed me how resilient Filipinos could get, and definitely made me feel that Isabela is “para sa daigdig” indeed.

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