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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wowed by the Carabaos! -- The Pulilan Carabao Festival


In my quest to chronicle every Philippine treasure that I can possibly see,  I started being pro-active in personally checking out the wonderful things that our country has to offer.  May 15 is such a fantastic date as many things are happening all through out the Philippines.  Last year, I was able to experience the unique Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon.  But this year, the May 15 event I chose to witness is the Pulilan Carabao Festival (which is just two towns away from my ancestor's place)!  =)

The marker in Pulilan, Bulacan

Finally, together with my cousins, I was able to witness one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines, the Pulilan Carabao Festival, in Pulilan, Bulacan.

The Pulilan River

My cousins enjoying the fiesta

A farmer and his animals gearing up for the parade

This carabao seems excited for the celebration.

The Pulilan Carabao Festival is a tribute to San Isidro Labrador, the patron of laborers and farmers, the same saint being venerated in the festivities at several towns in Quezon Province and Nueva Ecija, all in Luzon island.  It is celebrated every 14th to 15th of May each year.

San Isidro's history dates back to 1,000 years ago.  Isidro or Isidore was born in Madrid, Spain in 1070.  Coming from a poor family, he served and plowed the farm land of a wealthy landowner named Juan de Vargas.  Isidro, known for his kindness to poor people and animals, is a regular mass goer.  Every morning, before he goes to work, he hears mass at one of the churches in Madrid.  His fellow farmers complained to their master that Isidro was always late for work. As the farm owner, Juan didn't take it sitting down, he investigated the issue and he was surprised to find out that an angel was doing the plowing for Isidro while he is praying to God! Upon seeing the miracle, Juan knelt down in awe.  From then on, people will see the landlord kneeling down beside the image of San Isidro.

San Isidro Labrador

The San Isidro Labrador church in Pulilan, Bulacan

Statue of San Isidro Labrardor with Juan de Vargas

And the miracle didn't end there.  On another day, Juan, Isidro's master, witnessed an angel plowing on either side of Isidro which is a work worth  of three laborers effort. It was also said that Isidro was able to help bring back the life of his master's deceased daugther and helped burst a fountain of fresh water from drought stricken land to quench his master's thirst.

Now we know why San Isidro became a patron of laborers and farmers.

The carabao and the farmer smile to the crowd!  =)

In honor of their patron saint San Isidro Labrador and to symbolize farmers' hardwork, the Pulilan Carabao Festival was created.  Carabaos symbolize farmers' hard work as they play a key role in farming, planting and harvesting and outshine dogs in being the bestfriend of men working at the farm.  =)

The Pulilan Carabao Festival starts with the La Torre at 12 noon where drum and lyre bands with marjorette dancers grace the streets, line up in front of the church and perform in front of the crowd.  Between 2 to 3 PM, the procession of bands, cultural dancers and of course carabaos, about 150 of them, starts.  Like what Juan de Vega did with San Isidro, some of the carabaos were able to kneel before the church as they pass by.

It's La Torre time!

The band

This is my first time to see a xylophone this big!

The cultural dancers prior to the Carabao parade

Here comes the carabao!

The first carabao I saw kneeling.  

Jollibee praying that his carabao will kneel.

Jollibee's carabao kneeled a little longer than the others.  As you can see, Jollibee is so pleased.  =)

As the festivity deals with procession of quite large animals, many soldiers were deployed to the streets.

It was such a long hot tiring day but seeing the carabaos was all worth it.  I just wished the human parade will be a little shorter so that the crowd can fully enjoy the sight.  For this occassion, the carabaos weren't able to finish the parade because it rained.

a kid patiently waiting for the carabaos' arrival despite the scourging heat

Families having fun during the fiesta

Direk Laurice Guillen was one of the celebrities who witnessed the celebration.

Townsmen believe though that the rain is another sign of blessing, as we all know, water is a farm land's life blood, and it's badly needed especially a this extremely stressful hot weather! And of course, San Isidro was known to intercede miracles of providing water during drought.

Carabaos walk faster as rain approaches.

I decided to take a look at this Philippine tradition as I wanted to witness how the people in Pulilan, Bulacan creatively express their faith, give importance to the animals that help them in the field, get united and uphold community spirit, and celebrate life. For me this is another rare treasure that our country has that every Filipino, and every life explorer, must see.

This is another check in my 2011 task list!  What could be next?  Hmmm...


  1. Ferdie,

    ang ganda ng mga shots mo, pang professional ah. :) I was like 7 years young when I first saw this. Di na nasundan. I wish I could see this next year. Nice blog entry. Daming pictures. ;)


  2. Hi Jenny! Thanks! Am honored naman to receive such remarks from a seasoned journalist like you. =) Try to see it again next year, medyo mainit lang but it's okay, ako kasi I crave for traditional activities like this. You're lucky to have relatives there, for sure you'll enjoy it more. =)

  3. Hi, I like how you featured our Pulilan Carabao Fest Exhibit. I would like to invite you this year have lunch at our building so you can take top view shots. :-) email me sepiatreatment@gmail.com Earl Yulo from pulilan


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