With so many festivals in the country, why check out the Isla Rancho Festival in San Pascual, Masbate? In a province known mainly for its vast fields for grazing cattle and cowboys overlooking the many ranches of its three islands, it is interesting to see how this cowboy culture is infused with their celebration in reverence to their patron saint San Pascual. The Isla Rancho Festival Streetdance competition was one of the highlights of their 8-day Isla Rancho Festival. This colorful spectacle from performances from eight groups of the 22 villages in San Pascual creatively showcased the traditional festive atmosphere similar to many popular festivals in the country with a unique cowboy kick twist.
An island of ranches is what Isla Rancho means. Burias Island, one of Masbate’s three islands, is dominated by ranches hence the name. There are two main towns on the island, San Pascual on the northern end and Claveria in the middle. The Isla Rancho Festival is a festivity in San Pascual town. It is a young festival, only in its second year to entice more tourists to the region but San Pascual town itself was founded 184 years ago. The festival dates coincide with its founding anniversary, this year May 10–17, 2015.
Cowboys and Cowgirls
The schedule for the Isla Rancho Festival Streetdance was on a Friday, May 15, 2015, the day the group was also set to leave the island. We thought we won’t be able to witness their parade but it was fortunate the program would start early in the morning. We had time to see them prepare as they assemble near the school grounds. One by one the participating groups came in and it was great to see their dazzling costumes. The festival queens were the more heavily adorned and we had a chance to see how it takes a number of people to properly attach all the items to her costume.
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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.