Isabela kong Mahal: Five Days of Bambanti Festival 2018

Bambanti 2018 Best Street Dance Contingent

Five Days of Bambanti Festival 2018

In the Philippines, almost every city has a grandiose festival that involves at least a month’s worth of preparation, an entire spectrum of colors, and a thousand of smiling tourists from all corners of the country. Isabela has one such event—the Bambanti Festival.

Bambanti Festival Grounds
Bambanti Festival Grounds

Agriculture plays a huge role in the economy of the province that is frequently called names like the “Rice Bowl of the North” and the “Corn Capital of the Philippines”. It follows that the fundamental farming tool scarecrows, which the locals refer to as bambanti, should be celebrated. The iconic Bambanti Festival has been observed in the province since 1997. What started out as a humble occasion quickly gained recognition nationally.

Bambanti Festival 2018
Bambanti Festival 2018

Isabeleños have great regard for their culture and consider scarecrows to be a symbol of diligence, hard work, and protection. In other words, the scarecrow, for the Isabeleños, is more than “just” a scarecrow. In fact, this year’s Bambanti Festival, which was held from January 22 to 27, focused on the theme “Isabela kong Mahal”. The locals and their scarecrows have transcending love for their province.

I have been a devout fan of this festival ever since I started traveling. I just feel that it is a huge waste to miss this event, which always had something fun and new in store for everyone.

This year, I was invited to the festival along with other bloggers and writers. The five-day festivity was loaded with fares and events, and every day was a day to look forward to. I was crazy tired by the time nightfall came, but each day was memorable.

 Makan and Mainum Competitions

Pancit Cabagan, Batil Patong, and Dinengdeng are just some of the classic Isabeleño dishes that were served to impress the star-studded group of judges in the “Makan” and “Mainum” (food and drink competition, respectively).

Makan ken Mainum Cooking Competition Board of Judges
Makan ken Mainum Cooking Competition Board of Judges

Judges, which included Isabela first lady Ann Dy, Chef Cocoy Ventura and Chef Sandy Daza, spent the entire competition observing contenders as they prepared their respective dishes and beverages. At the end, cooks from the Municipality of Echague won both Makan and Mainum competitions, with the team’s Fried Sweet and Sour Adobo and Illuru drink.

Makan ken Mainum Cooking Competition Participants
Makan ken Mainum Cooking Competition Participants
Bambanti 2018 Cooking Competition
Bambanti 2018 Cooking Competition
Winning Entry from Echague - Bambanti Cooking Contest
Winning Entry from Echague – Bambanti Cooking Contest

Meanwhile, participants from San Manuel, Tumauini, and San Mateo ranked after Echague in the food competition. Luna, Tumauini, and Roxas come in next in the Mainum competition.

Choral Competition

The contestants in the choral competition proved that choirs aren’t all about sopranos and falsettos. The different groups surprised us audiences when they, clad in their vibrant traditional attires, suddenly sang quirky songs and danced along with them, while singing in their angelic voices!

Best Choral Group - Isabela kong Mahal
Best Choral Group – Isabela kong Mahal

It was a tough competition, but Cauayan City won the much-coveted first place, followed by Ilagan in second and Alicia in third.

Bambanti Street Dance and Showdown Competition

One of the highlights of the festival is the Bambanti Street Dance and Showdown Competition, which has been attracting perhaps thousands of tourists for years. It was unfortunate that it had to rain on the day of the street dance parade, but all the competing teams (which totaled to almost 40) smiled on and danced on proudly.

Bambanti 2018 Best Street Dance Contingent
Bambanti 2018 Best Street Dance Contingent

There were so much colors. There were vibrant, striking, colors, while there were lots of shiny pinks and blues from the costumes of the dancers who mimicked scarecrows in some of their moves.

2018 Best Dance Showdown from Alicia Isabela
2018 Best Dance Showdown from Alicia Isabela

The town of Alicia won first prize in both street dance and dance showdown. For the street dance, Alicia was followed by Ramon, Cauayan, Quirino, and Mallig, while for the showdown, the town was followed by Luna, Cauayan, Mallig, and San Pablo.

Each city/municipality had a king and queen that led the dancers while it rained. They were easy to spot. They were on the first rows and their costumes were simply stunning. Each town had a pakulo, but the Festival Kings and Queens of San Agustin and Cauayan City stood out the most, ranking first and second, respectively. The bambanti king from San Mateo and the bambanti queen from San Manuel ranked third.

Bambanti Village

One of the most-awaited event in the festival is the opening of the Bambanti Village, a public street display of “booths”, where Isabela cities and municipalities showcased their creativity by using their respective area’s main products.

Best Agri Eco-Tourism Booth 2018 - Naguilian
Best Agri Eco-Tourism Booth 2018 – Naguilian

Ilagan City was particularly catchy. It is one of the leading producers of corn, so they made a corn scarecrow! Aurora, on the other hand, which is known for calamansi, made an environment-friendly stall of sorts that displayed and sold products made from calamansi.

2018 Best Giant Bambanti from Burgos
2018 Best Giant Bambanti from Burgos

There were a lot of things put on display, and some cities sold fresh vegetables like puso ng saging, corn, and eggplant, while some sold souvenirs, like those very tiny and colorful hats and fans.

Inatata from Isabela
Inatata from Isabela
Products from Isabela
Products from Isabela

Mingled amongst the creative booths and stalls were shops like Indigenous Handicrafts, which sold authentic Isabela handicrafts; Heritage, which showcased the local culture through arts, woven products, and music; and Lifestyle Merchandise, which sold furniture.

Giant Bambanti from San Manuel
Giant Bambanti from San Manuel

There were so much things to see, buy, and take pictures of.

Giant Bambanti at the Bambanti Village
Giant Bambanti at the Bambanti Village
Fresh Vegetables from Isabela
Fresh Vegetables from Isabela
Red Rice from Isabela
Red Rice from Isabela
Local Produce and Handicrafts from Isabela
Local Produce and Handicrafts from Isabela

Like most events in the festival, participating cities and municipalities in the Bambanti Village were judged. The best agri-ecotourism booth were Naguilian, who won first, followed by Jones, Cauayan, Echague, and San Agustin.

Wrapping it Up

The overall winners were announced on the last day of the festival.  During the program, I saw the faces of locals and tourists who were all eager to hear the results, as they wore their souvenir hats from the Bambanti Village.

Best Festival Queen Costume 2018 from Cauayan
Best Festival Queen Costume 2018 from Cauayan

The individual rankings of the cities and municipalities were tallied and then totaled. The overall winners were Cauayan, Alicia, San Agustin, Echague, and Jones, in descending order.

Souvenirs from Isabela
Souvenirs from Isabela

Although only five participating cities and municipalities were chosen out of almost 40 competitors, I felt that everyone was a winner. Every team was able to show the main product of their respective places in the most creative of ways, and in turn earned the smiles of tourists like me, whom never could have seen the beauty of Isabela in just one day. I think that’s the greatest award anyone could have, and it was perfect for the festival’s theme “Isabela kong Mahal”.

Governor Dy and Vice Governor Tonypet Albano
Governor Dy and Vice Governor Tonypet Albano

The scarecrow festival concluded with a concert by Ogie Alcasid, Jona, 4th Impact, and McCoy De Leon and Elisse Joson, and with a literal blast, with the long fireworks display, which had perfectly encapsulated my short, bright, and colorful experience in Bambanti Festival 2018.

Complete List of 2018 BAMBANTI FESTIVAL WINNERS
OVERALL WINNERS
PLACE
CITY/MUNICIPALITY
POINTS/PERCENTAGE
1ST  PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY
235 POINTS
2ND PLACE
ALICIA
215 POINTS
3RD PLACE
SAN AGUSTIN
150 POINTS
4TH PLACE
ECHAGUE
130 POINTS
5TH PLACE
JONES
110 POINTS
BEST CHORAL GROUP
1ST  PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY
95.20%
2ND PLACE
CITY OF ILAGAN
87.77%
3RD  PLACE
ALICIA
85.70%
BEST MAKAN TI ISABELA
1ST  PLACE
ECHAGUE

2ND PLACE
SAN MANUEL

3RD PLACE
TUMAUINI

4TH PLACE
SAN MATEO

BEST MAINUM TI ISABELA
1ST  PLACE
ECHAGUE

2ND PLACE
LUNA

3RD PLACE
TUMAUINI

4TH PLACE
ROXAS

BEST FESTIVAL KING COSTUME
1ST  PLACE
SAN AGUSTIN

2ND PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY

3RD PLACE            
SAN MATEO

BEST FESTIVAL QUEEN COSTUME
1ST  PLACE
SAN AGUSTIN

2ND PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY

3RD PLACE            
SAN MANUEL

FESTIVAL KING
FESTIVAL KING
SAN AGUSTIN

1ST  PLACE
ALICIA

2ND PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY

3RD PLACE
SAN MATEO

4TH PLACE
CABATUAN

                                                                                      FESTIVAL QUEEN
FESTIVAL QUEEN
CAUAYAN CITY

1ST  PLACE
SAN AGUSTIN

2ND PLACE
ALICIA

3RD PLACE
SAN MATEO

4TH PLACE
CABATUAN

BEST GIANT BAMBANTI INSTALLATION
1ST  PLACE
BURGOS

2ND PLACE
ECHAGUE

3RD PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY

4TH PLACE
JONES

5TH PLACE
CORDON

BEST AGRI-ECOTOURISM BOOTH
1ST  PLACE
NAGUILIAN

2ND PLACE
JONES

3RD PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY

4TH PLACE
ECHAGUE

5TH PLACE
SAN AGUSTIN

BEST STREETDANCE CONTIGENT
1ST  PLACE
ALICIA

2ND PLACE
RAMON

3RD PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY

4TH PLACE
QUIRINO

5TH PLACE
MALLIG

BEST DANCE SHOWDOWN
1ST  PLACE
ALICIA

2ND PLACE
LUNA

3RD PLACE
CAUAYAN CITY

4TH PLACE
MALLIG

5TH PLACE
SAN PABLO

Looking for Hotels in Isabela Province? Visit Agoda to find the best selection of discounted hotels in the province.
Bambanti Festival Media Participants
Bambanti Festival Media Participants

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