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The Wacky Carabao Festival

July 15th, 2008 by

The Philippines festival held in the middle of May every year is probably your only chance to see an oiled, shaved and ornamented buffalo parading down the streets. As with other festivals in the country, this too celebrates a saint that marked the country’s history – San Isidro Labrador is the patron-saint of farmers and the star of this celebration.

According to historical records, many years ago individuals were identified by their profession and not their surname. In the case of San Isidro, his profession was that of a laborer, working on a farm since he didn’t have any land of his own. His landlord was amazed that Isidro finished the work on time every day, even though he came late to work most of the time. The landlord then spied on Isidro and found that the person plowing the field was an angel. Legend has it that he then knelt before San Isidro, thus the saint’s association with a kneeling man.

Thus the buffalo’s are important creatures since they assist farmers in doing their jobs. On this special festival, the carabao’s are taught by their owners to kneel in front of the church. A priest then blesses each of the buffalo that brings homage to their patron saint. On the 15th of May, buffalo races are held as part of the festivity.

The buffalo’s (known as carabao) are cleaned meticulously, shaved and their clean pink skin is smeared in aromatic oils, after which they put on ribbons, crowns of frangipani and hibiscus or other decorations to make them ready for the parade. The families then bring their adorned buffalo to the church square, where they hope to win either the strongest buffalo or the most beautifully decorated prize. So if you’re looking for a crazy festival, where scented buffalo’s parade, put the Carabao Festival on your trip agenda.

Thanks to Pesky Noodlefor providing the photos

2 Responses to “The Wacky Carabao Festival”

  1. Alex Tan Says:

    Because of the escalating fuel prices, farmers are abandoning their tractors and going back to carabaos.

  2. mother Asia Says:

    great! thanks very much for sharing!

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