Carabao Festival

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Carabao Festival

The Carabao Festival is celebrated on the feast day of San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Worker), the farmer's patron saint from May 15 to 16 as tribute to the water buffalos or carabaos in the farming town of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, Pulilan, Bulacan, and Angono, Rizal. The carabao or (kalabaw) is the national animal of the Philippines.


File:Kneeling carabao.jpg
Kneeling carabao

According to historical records, San Isidro was hired as a "labrador" or laborer. He worked in a farm and his landlord was astonished when he was still capable of finishing his tasks despite his coming late to work most of the time. Curious by this strangeness, he investigated and saw that the person plowing the field was an angel. Amazed, he knelt before San Isidro and the image of a kneeling man is often associated with the patron saint.

Thus, the Hispanic feast of San Isidro evolved into the Carabao Festival since the carabao is an important animal to farmers because it helps them plough their fields and produce a good harvest.


The townspeople celebrate this occasion in glorious thanksgiving for a year-long bountiful harvest. It is manifested by a two-day revelry where one can witness street dancing and a procession of more than twenty beautifully decorated carabaos. A variety of multi-colored fruits, vegetables, flowers, candies and other food crops are hung on bamboo poles and carts. These carts, pulled by the carabaos serves as floats.

File:Carabao festival dancer.jpg
Street dancing at the Pulilan carabao festival

On the first day, farmers pay tribute to carabaos. These animals are very important for farmers because they help till the land. Farmers brush their carabaos' skin until it is sleek and shiny, the horns are rubbed with oil and given shine. Then the carabaos are decorated with ribbons or sometimes painted and attached to carts. In the afternoon, farmers lead their carabaos to the church square to be part of the procession. At the church, the carabaos not only kneel for their blessings but also walk on their knees like penitents in front of the church. A priest blesses each one of the carabaos as they pass by the church and pay homage to their patron saint, ensuring their good health and vitality for the coming year. On the second day, the carabaos compete in a friendly race, each pulling a bamboo carriage on a 400-meter course. These carabaos were trained daily for several weeks before the festival begins.

Aside from the kneeling of the carabaos and the carabao race, which are considered as the highlight of the festival, there are other things that are equally entertaining such as the marching bands where the audience are treated with the majorette’s dancing and baton twirling exhibition, the children’s drum and lyre band and the street dancers who takes center stage and exhibited various folk dances which usually delights both tourist and locals alike. These performers are mostly students from different Municipalities in Bulacan. Traditional dances and procession of decorative floats are part of the activities of this occasion.

Prizes are awarded to the strongest and most beautifully decorated carabaos.


During the 2009 Pulilan Carabao Festival parade, a carabao attached to a wagon ran amok toward the crowd lining the streets. The carabao's owner fell off the wagon as the animal knocked down motorcycles and vendors' carts. Short of breath, the carabao stopped next to a waiting shed, where it was tied by several townspeople. The tired animal resumed its rampage when a policeman hit its head with a plastic chair, dragging the wrecked shed a few hundred meters. The “crazed carabao,” identified as a Bulgarian buffalo, was reportedly agitated by the spectators. When the carabao could no longer struggle from exhaustion, it was carried on a trailer to its home in Plaridel. [1]

Pulilan mayor Vicente Esguerra said that this was the first time such an incident occurred in the history of their celebration. Although Bulgarian buffaloes are gentle by nature, Esguerra said that these would not be allowed to participate in parades anymore. [1]

External Link


  1. ^ "Severino, Howie Crazed carabao during parade was a Bulgarian buffalo," GMA News Blogs (accessed 24 March 2010)



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