Carabao festival

The Carabao festival is held in the Philippines during the feast of of San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Worker). The festival is organized on the 15th and 16th of May. The most famous festivals are those held in towns of San Isidro (province of Nueva Ecija), Pulilan (province of Bulacan) and Angono (province of Rizal). Carabao festival is held in honour of carabao (kalabaw) or water buffalo. The carabao is the national animal of the Philippines.

San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Worker)
San Isidro Labrador

There is a legend about the origin of this festival. San Isidro was a labourer or "labrador." He worked on a farm. His boss could not understand San Isidro's efficiency despite often coming late to work. He decided to solve the mystery. He found out that fields had been ploughed by an angel. The boss then came to San Isidro and knelt before him.

This festival is actually of Hispanic origin as Spaniards used to rule the Philippines between 1565 and 1821. Locals included carabao in the feast of San Isidro Labrador as this animal is very important in their lives as farmers.

On the first day of the festival farmers prepare their carabaos to look beautiful for the big parade. Their skin is cleaned and horns rubbed with oil. Carabaos are decorated with ribbons. Some farmers even paint their carabaos. More than 20 carts participate in the parade.

Carabao Festival
Carabao kneeling

In front of the church carabaos kneel to be blessed. They even move on their knees like penitents. A priest blesses each carabao. On the second day there is a race of carabaos pulling bamboo carriages over a 400 metres long track. Organizers of the festival award the strongest and the most beautiful carabao. The festivals also includes some other attractions like numerous marching bands, majorettes and folk music performances.