BY VIRGINIA ABAD-BERGONIA,

EDUCATION PROGRAM SUPERVISOR, DEPED-CITY OF ILAGAN, ISABELA

Manila Times - 08 Feb 2018

 

THE much-famed weeklong Bambanti Festival 2018—named after scarecrows which protect the farms—has been attracting local and foreign tourists, thanks to the Filipino ingenuity in local arts and culture.

Giant scarecrows both amaze and scare in equal measure. At the festival, booths are set up in a village to enjoy the festival’s activities. The festival which started on January 22 and ended on January 27 is aptly referred to as the “mother of all festivals.”

Bambanti mascots are mostly created with colorful straws and grasses wrapped in farmer’s clothing but others used native farm products to depict the scarecrow.

            But there is more to the Bambanti festival than just the scarecrows. At the core of the festival is a showcase displaying an array of farm produce, handicraft and other native products, aside from other highlights like include street parades and dances, beauty pageants and a host of fun activities.

            Visitors enjoyed ample time getting acquainted with the local culture as they immersed themselves into some of the Philippines’ most amazing cultural traditions and cultural heritage. As a perk, visitors got to share this agricultural abundance, lifestyle, and cuisine with the locals.          

            Rice is the staple crop in this region, so the festival can be regarded as a tribute to the Bambanti who watch over the fields.

            The Bambanti Festival has been adjudged three-time winner of the Aliw awards, bringing home the title of the Best Festival Practices and Performance from 2015 to 2017. The Festival is an annual event for Isabela province.

         

   With the theme “Isabela Kong Mahal” (Isabela, My Beloved Land), this year’s festival depicted the Isabeleños love for the land and their birth through various creative concepts and images, including the  Giant Bambanti Showcase, Bambanti Street Dance and Showdown Competition, Musical Street Performances, Search for Bambanti Festival King and Queen, and Isebela’s Master Kusinero Cooking Contest.

            Standing tall in the field, scarecrows have been fixed figures used to drive away birds and pests from crops but it was a come-on as spectators were treated with various festive colors, dance performances, loud music and creative costumes which showcase the rich culture of the province.

             Given that tourists and residents flock to enjoy the Bambanti Festival, the said annual fun-filled festivities would linger in the next years