If you’re wondering if you should stop by Tabaco City, the answer is a resounding yes! Make sure to schedule your trip on June when the Tabak Festival is held.
Tabak Festival initially started as a celebration of Tabaco’s foundation anniversary, which was granted in 2002. Today, it celebrates everything Tabaknon — so expect to see colorful decorations in the city, fun games and competitions, and of course a street parade that shows the culture of Tabaco City.
The Tabak Festival happens every 3rd to 4th week of June.
I was invited to come to Tabak Festival 2019, which was held last June 15-25. This year’s theme is animation and is called Animated Tabak Festival 2019. It symbolizes the colorful, lively and animated city of Tabaco. Here are some highlights from my visit to Tabak Festival in Tabaco City!
Sibidan Race is a banca race joined by fishers and ordinary residents. It’s an event that tests the endurance and speed of the contestants and also an acknowledgement of the coastal livelihood and culture of Tabaknons.
For the Tabak Festival 2019, the race started at Rawis in San Miguel with the finish point in San Roque fish port (6 kilometers distance).
Tabaco City is the padyak capital of the Philippines, so naturally the festival holds an event in honor of this title. In the Padyak Race, padyak pairs (a passenger and a driver) race from the starting point to the finish line, stopping along the way in designated checkpoints to complete tasks. The pair who gets to complete the tasks and arrive first gets to grab the prize money.
Padyak Race is a fun game for the padyak participants. It’s also a celebration of the perseverance and honest labor of Tabaknon padyak drivers.
Tabakulinarya Cooking Competition
A cooking competition which is divided into 2 sets: professionals and non-professionals. The goal is to create a dish that’s local to Tabaco City. The twist: contestants were asked on the spot to add a secret ingredient. This year, the secret ingredient is none other than pili.
Ginoong Tabak is a male pageant in search of the best male representative of the Tabaknons.
It was my first time to attend a male pageant so this was exciting for me. The contestants’ costumes were well made and the Q&A portion was both light hearted and meaningful. One contestant was asked by a judge if he would rather seek for love or let love find him and he answered that a person must work hard for anything he wants and thus, “To my future loved one, I will find you!” The whole stage erupted in cheers. This was really one of the most enjoyable highlights of Tabak Festival 2019 for me.
Mutya ng Tabak
A classic search for the mutya of Tabaco City. Contestants showed off in bikinis and long gowns and answered various questions about their philosophies in life, being a Bicolano and more.
Mutya ng Tabakla
Yes, Tabaco City supports the LGBTQ community! Queens paraded in bikinis and beautiful gowns and competed in a Q&A portion that discusses the current issues in the community.
Live band performances
Want to see live performances onstage? Tabaco City organizes music concerts featuring local artists. This year, we get to see Itchyworms, Siakol, This Band, and Tropical Depression along with other dances and song numbers from Tabaknons.
Anime Cosplay Competition
This is a custom competition in line with the year’s theme — Animated Tabak Festival 2019. Students donned anime costumes and explained what it means to them and what ideology they are fighting for.
The LGU Night is an event participated by the LGU members of Tabaco City. This year, groups selected a specific anime to represent — they wore costumes and danced according to the anime’s themes and stories.
Again, this was an enjoyable event not only for the members of LGUs but also regular viewers. Personally, I like that everyone made a point to make elaborate costumes and dance routines. My favorites? Definitely the team for Slamdunk and Sailormoon.
Tabak Festival Street Parade
A Philippine festival wouldn’t be complete without a street parade. The street parade in Tabak Festival is relatively shorter than other festivals in the country, but it’s just as colorful and boisterous.
Tip: Since the parade is short, you can simply wait and get good seats at the city hall where the final dance exhibition is held.
Other things to see
Aside from these, Tabak Festival also holds other mini-competitions and set ups bazaars where you can buy local goods and produce.
Tabak Festival isn’t as grand as other festivals in the Philippines, but it has a quaint charm and personally I love that I felt connected to the Tabaknons as I get to know more about their culture and lifestyle. Plus, attending the Tabak Festival is just another reason for you to visit this city in Albay!
Big thanks to the Tourism of Tabaco City for inviting me to cover the Tabak Festival 2019!
Have you been to Tabak Festival in Tabaco City? What are your thoughts about it? Let us know in the comments section below!
What to read next:
- Things to do in Tabaco City, Albay
- Where to eat in Tabaco City, Albay
- Island hopping in Albay via Tabaco Port
Love festivals? Check out these festivals in in the Philippines!
Here are the festivals we’ve attended:
- Lambayok Festival (San Juan, Batangas)
- Tabak Festival (Tabaco, Albay)
- Zamboanga Hermosa Festival (Zamboanga City)
- Gapo at Palusong Festival (General Nakar)
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).