MANILA, Philippines - Colorful scarecrows filled the streets of Ilagan City, Isabela at the province's Bambanti Festival held last January. It was the first time the festival was organized as an independent event. In 2012, it was held alongside Isabela Day, celebrated in May.
The scarecrow or bambanti in Ilocano (the province's dialect) "symbolizes the resilience and industry of the Isabelenos,” incumbent Governor Faustino “Bodgie” Dy III told Rappler.
Dy added that the 2013 festival was also a form of thanksgiving for not being hit by a storm in 2012. “We want the rest of the country to feel our gratitude and see how the Isabela fiesta experience is unlike any thanksgiving party they have been to,” he said.
The provincial government of Isabela also aimed to attract investors to the province, the country’s biggest grower of corn and mongo and second top producer of rice.
Among the attractions at the festival were the 12-feet-tall giant scarecrows, a Festival King and Queen tilt, street dances and the staging of the musical “Mahiwagang Isabela.”
Isabela's 3 cities and 34 towns set up agro-ecotourism booths in the provincial capitol’s grounds to promote their products and tourist spots.
The town of Maconacon opted not to join the festivities following the assassination of Mayor Erlinda Domingo on January 22. Instead, the provincial government built a shrine in Bambanti Village to honor the fallen government official.
Singers Jed Madela, Vina Morales, Sarah Geronimo, Christian Bautista and Bamboo held concerts during the 4-day spectacle.
Here are Rappler's photos from Bambanti Festival: