Tabaco City’s Tabak Festival

With a confused mind I was on a bus bound to Bicol to a city called Tabaco. I was one of the the bloggers that the city invited to witness the Tabak Festival. I was battling in my mind why would the city celebrate Tabak instead of Tabaco which is a type of plant used to make cigars. Anyways, I just slept on the bus on a 12 hour journey from Manila. Well, at least I tried to sleep.

As soon as the light came in, I was greeted by this majestic view. Something that I’ve only seen on books until that day, The Mayon volcano. I was truly blessed as Mayon showed it self clearly that day, as if he was welcoming me to Bicol. I’ve heard of friends who spent days even up to a week at a time and never got to see the glorious Mayon in its entirety. With that I am grateful. Not bad for a welcome for a Bicol virgin like me.

I hopped off the at Tabaco City bus stop and was fetched by Verna our ever caring tour coordinator. After checking in I was introduced to Dave of  who’s also my room mate for the next few days. Celine of on the other hand arrived the day after.

The Festival Origin

The Tabak Festival celebrates the city’s renowned craft of making the Tabak, a type of sword used mostly by farmers to cut through shrubs and other plants to clear a field or just plainly cut open a fresh coconut. The city formulated the festival to celebrate annually the its cityhood in 2003 just a year after it was granted such status.


The festival focuses on the Tabak’s culture and its people’s daily lives. It aims to celebrate the spirit of the city’s community caring for each other and living harmoniously. Fittingly, the city hashtagged #cityoflove during the festivities and yes, you can see love all around. You can feel that more than competing with each other contenders enjoy and show their best for the love of their city.

The Festivities

Focusing on its residents’ daily living the festivities include boat racing, pedicab race, coconut husking and beauty pageants. The week long festivities are then capped with the Tabak Festival grand parade.

 Boats waiting for the race to start


 Pedicab Race Finishers waiting for the rest of the pack


LGU night performers



 Mutya ng Tabakla Candidates

Related Article: Mutya ng Tabakla Queens


 Rock Tabak Concert


 Mayor Krisel enjoying the night with senior citizens during the seniors night


 Live band for the city’s senior citizens


 Mutya ng Tabak Candidates

During the LGU night w had a chance to chat with Mayor Krisel and asked about the city’s name. It was really difficult to focus on her story. looking at such beautiful and intelligent mayor (yeeeee kakakilig hahaha) telling a story??? Hahahaha! Anyways, She told the story of how the city came to be known at Tabaco City. Once upon a time…. Kidding! According to a fable (not kidding now) there’s this heroine who fought with a Tabak. She was caught off guard without her Tabak, she commanded her offspring “Anak ang Tabak Ko!” (son hand me my Tabak) hence Tabak Ko which later evolved to Tabaco. According to the good mayor, there’s not even a single Tabaco plantation n the city.

To be honest, the Tabak Festival isn’t as big as many of the famous festivals in the country. What’s special about this though is that it celebrates humanity. That we need each other, care for your neighbor. there are very few festivals that celebrates this side of us being humans. Many celebrate saints history but very few celebrate who we are and who we should be. I think it is a good thing to visit Tabaco City and experience the Tabak Festival and see for your selves how people take care of each other in Bicol’s City of Love.

Read more about the Tabak Festival from Celineism and Silverbackpacker

The Tale of Two Tabacos

Tabak Festival Fun Games


Bambanti Festival: The North’s Grandest Festival

It is said that in the Philippines have at least one festival or fiesta somewhere in the country every single day. With over 7 thousand islands there sure is one waiting for you! The most famous ones namely Sinulog, Dinagyang and Panagbenga are all great but sometimes it gets too crowded and you just can’t enjoy the parade.

The Bambanti Festival celebrates Isabela’s agricultural heritage hence the Bambanti which is the Ilocano word for Scarecrows. The week long festival starts with its agricultural shows, competition  and exhibits. This showcases the province’s advancements when it comes to agriculture and how it enables them to raise the bar of food security for the country. It is ideal to see this part of the festival as it will let you discover the business potential that there is for you in Isabela.


Aside from these exhibition, the best part of the festival comes on its last two days. The street dancing competition and the dance show down occurs a day before the closing ceremonies which is also something to watch for. Almost each of the 15 municipalities and cities of the province sends their delegation to compete, while repressenting their individual festivals in their own towns. It is almost like a competition of what the best festival is in the province! You can actually have a glimpse of what each town offers when it comes to feasts!

Agricultural Exhibition

See what Isabela has to offer in terms of advances to agricultural opportunities. Visit the Bambanti Village composed of booths made up of Isabela’s agricultural produce. It actually reminded me of the Pasadena Rose Parade and the Panagbenga where floats are made up of flowers and seeds, this however is far more extravagant including vegetables and crops as materials in constructing their booths.

Street Dance

Teams are challenge to dance to a single song playing while showing their creativity and uniqueness. I just love their costumes specially the Cauayan City delagation all dressed up as scarecrows!








B-Boy Competition

On a more modern note, contestants showed their acrobatic skills as they try to snag the coveted title of being the best dance crew in the province.

bambanti festival

bambanti festival

bambanti festival

bambanti festival


Dance Show Down

Probably my favorite part of the festival is the dance show down among the municpalities of Isabela. Each contingent showcased stories from their towns with colorful costumes and energetic dance routines.










Festival Kings and Queens

The festival also picked their Festival king and queen. Each delegate’s festival costume will just make you admire their creativity and taste.

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

But it doesn’t stop there, to be the festival royalty for the year you don’t just have to look good; you also need to be talented!




Festival Concert

Of course what everybody was waiting for is the festival’s culmination concert. It was a star studded night! Present that night to entertain are PBB’s Myrtle Sarrosa, Kristof Garcia and the Pinoy Boyband Superstar winners. The highlight of the concert night though was the four exquisite divas of the Sunday show ASAP – KZ Tandingan, Kyla, Angeline Quinto and Yeng Constantino.

Kristof Garcia

Myrtle Sarosa

Pinoy Boyband Superstar

ASAP Divas

ASAP Divas

ASAP Divas with the governor and vice governor

No wonder people refer to it as the grandest festival of northern luzon, The Bambanti festival does deliver to this title. It has won 2 Aliw awards for the best festival performance consecutively for the past two years and it really shows. I honestly was overwhelmed with how much effort has been put to this festival. The program was so tight that there are no dull moments. It was a world class production indeed, resonating their theme for this year as Isabela for the World. Forgive me for rambling so much about this but, I just cant help to express how surprisingly awesome the show was and not a lot of people know about this!

Fittingly the festivities was closed with a bang by a fabulous fireworks display that lit up the night sky of Isabela!

Food: Inabraw Cook off In Isabela’s Bambantin Festival

Inabraw also known as Dinengdeng is a dish with Ilocano heritage and has been in the Isabeleños tables for generations. This year for the second time in a row, the Bambantin festival featured the dish through a cook off. Lead by the province’s first lady, seven contingents from different municipalities around the province cooked their way to the finals.

best inabraw in isabela

Inabraw is a fish dish with a medley of vegetables that are native to the northern part of the Luzon cooked in stew. The great thing about this competition is that participants are challenged to become creative with the form and presentation of the dish giving the food a new perspective and possibilities of maybe going global.

It was a tough time pressured competition but everyone was able to deliver. So without further delay here are the winners of the Inabraw cooking competition – the best Inabraw in Isabela.

best inabraw in isabela

Inabraw Cooking Competition Winners

3rd Place – Cauayan City
2nd Place – Cabatuan
1st Place – San Mateo

Grand Winner Tumauini !

Inabraw Cook off winner