Isabela’s Bambanti Festival lures thousands
Raymund Catindig, Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2014 - 12:00am

ILAGAN CITY, Philippines – The highlights of Isabela’s five-day Bambanti Festival on Thursday drew a crowd of more than 250,000 from all over Cagayan Valley, the biggest in the history of annual festivities in the region.

Vice Gov. Antonio Albano, this year’s festival chairman, said the crowd who went to witness the grand cultural street-dancing competition and fireworks display was a manifestation of the overwhelming success of this year’s festivities.

Local and tourism officials estimated the crowd who filled the Isabela Sports Complex here at over 250,000, including the contingents coming from the province’s 34 towns and three cities.

With the success of this year’s Bambanti (Iluko word for scarecrow) Festival, the provincial government and the Department of Tourism now want it to have a regionwide scope.

“The Bambanti Festival is a huge success. It not only showcased Isabela as the socio-cultural hub of the north, but also as the new emerging agro-industrial capital of the Philippines. Our municipal and city cultural booths have shown that Isabela is the best province to invest in agriculture because we have the largest fertile lands that produce the best crops and sustain myriads of livestock,” Albano said.

He said they are optimistic that the Bambanti Festival, which had the theme “Isabela Flying High” this year, could match the success of the country’s leading annual festivities. 

Albano said the annual festival keeps on getting better and grandiose with its scarecrow dancing spectacles and cultural, tourism and agricultural booths from every municipality becoming more impressive every year.

Since the inception of the festival in 2010, tourist arrivals in the province had increased from 15,000 to 30,000 last year, he said. 

Bambanti has since become Isabela’s showcase of its rich cultural heritage and pristine natural beauty found in the northern Sierra Madre mountain ranges, considered the last virgin forest frontier in the country, Albano said.

“Every year will always get bigger, better, and more festive. God is good to Isabela. We plan to expand our invitation to include the whole region and later on, the whole world to participate and join our competitions,” he said.

For his part, Gov. Faustino Dy III said he has discussed the proposal to make Bambanti the main festival of Cagayan Valley with the regional tourism office.

“Isabela’s reputation as the country’s agricultural backbone, being the top surplus producer, is attributed to the diligence of Isabelinos,” Dy said.


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