Sandugo Festival

Sandugo Festival is a cultural and historical festival as well as a founding anniversary celebration held in the city of Tagbilaran in Bohol, Philippines every July 22nd.

It was created to boost tourism, commemorate the historical blood compact entered into by Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, and honor the establishment of the province.

It is a month-long celebration, and the 22nd of July is a non-working holiday in Bohol.

History of Sandugo Festival

Sandugo Festival comes from the word sandugo that literally translates to one or unified blood. The first Sandugo Festival was held in 1989 within the term of governor Constancio Torralba.

This annual event is organized by the provincial government and Isang Dugo Foundation.

It commemorates the blood compact (kasikasi in local language, pacto de sangre in Spanish) between Spanish colonizer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, chieftain of Bohol, on March 25, 1565.

On board in one of Legazpi’s ships, the two drew drops of blood from self-inflicted wounds in their body that were poured on an alcoholic beverage, and they drank the mixture to seal their pact called the Treaty of Friendship.

After a few days, Legazpi repeated the ritual with Datu Sigala.

Such a custom was observed in precolonial Philippines as an oath of newfound alliances or in ending feuds and wars. It is believed that someone who broke the oath would be cursed up to their succeeding generations.

Why did Legazpi have to perform a blood oath?

Historians said that his expedition was running low on supplies. He took precautions, however, from sending sailors out to meet the natives as one of them was killed in similar interactions previously.

Likewise, Sikatuna was wary in responding to his invitation due to ruinous attacks initiated by the Portuguese in earlier years.

Assurances from both sides prevailed upon the two. Sikatuna agreed to meet the Spaniard on his vessel, an encounter that Juan Luna memorialized in a famous painting called El Pacto de Sangre in 1886.

The location where the historical event took place was in contention for years. The National Historical Institute installed a marker in Bool in Tagbilaran City in 1941.

The treaty was depicted in a bronze sculpture by national artist Napoleon Abueva in 1997 that is popularly known as Sandugo Shrine.

Then, Republic Act No. 9093 was signed on April 8, 2001, declaring March 16 as Blood Compact Day and a non-working holiday in Bohol.

In 2005 however, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) passed Resolution No. 04 that established Hinawanan in the town of Loay as the place where the blood compact happened on March 25, 1565.

And NHCP installed a historical marker for the said declaration on the site in Loay in 2006.

Founding anniversary of Bohol

Sandugo Festival is also a founding anniversary celebration.

The history of Bohol goes back to preconquest times. Its name comes from the settlement where the first Spaniards came ashore and in addition, it is thought that Ferdinand Magellan reached the islet of Panglao in 1521.

During much of the Spanish rule, Bohol was part of Cebu. Christianity took roots with the arrival of Jesuit missionaries in 1595.

In 1622, its people rose in an uprising led by Tablot, a babaylan (shaman and spiritual leader of pre-colonial animist tradition), and it was suppressed half a year later.

A century afterwards, another revolution erupted. Its leader was Francisco Dagohoy who rallied the natives to oppose foreign rule beginning in 1744.

Dagohoy resisted the Spaniards on account of abuses and injustices that resulted to the general misery of the natives, as well as personal reasons. His brother died from carrying out a command by a friar to go after a person who refused baptism, but was not given the rite of proper burial.

The Dagohoy Rebellion is acknowledged as the longest-running revolt in the country. It lasted for over eighty years despite many attempts by the colonial government to subdue the movement. It only ended most probably by the death of Dagohoy out of ill health and/or age.

Bohol was made an independent province on July 22, 1856 together with the province of Siquijor. With the coming of the Americans, civil government was instituted by virtue of Act No. 117 on April 20, 1901.

Republic Act No. 7683 was signed on February s23, 1994 declaring 22nd of July as Bohol Day and a non-working holiday.

Sandugo Festival Schedule of Activities

Sandugo Festival is a month-long schedule of activities. Opening ceremonies start on the first of July and closing programs occur in the last day of the month.

Activities showcase Bohol’s culture and heritage, community spirit, and merry-making. Some of the events are trade and agriculture fairs, job fairs, and tourism expo.

Competitions are also open in several sporting events: dragon boat, darts, skateboarding, bike fest, chess, football, e-sports, triathlon, etc.

Other events include traditional and cultural dance presentations, evening entertainment, concerts, music fests, pet show, zumba, medical mission, arts, poetry, historical and heritage tours, etc.

Bangga sa Kuradang ug Subli sa Sandugo

Bangga sa Kuradang translates Kuradang Competition and Subli sa Sandugo translates Sandugo Reenactment. It describes the general framework and unique identity of the street dancing during the festival.

It features kuradang, the name of a folk dance, and dramatization of the blood compact. It became a fixture as organizers worked to distinguish the festival from similar events occurring in other parts of the country, to stay faithful to indigenous customs and traditions, and to display the artistry and creativity of the people of Bohol.

Kuradang is a courtship dance that can be found in central parts of the Philippines and performed in various occasions and gatherings. Its form involves a man wooing a woman, who tries to evade his advances and then is persuaded towards the end. It is set to the rhythm of percussive and stringed instruments.

Jess Tirol, writing for The Bohol Chronicle, stated that its movements mirrored the stances of arnis, a traditional Filipino martial arts that utilizes a pair of wooden sticks.

From 2020 to 2022, the street dancing event was cancelled amidst coronavirus pandemic.

Fusion Nights

Fusion Nights is an initiative where international, Filipino, and local cuisines that are served in the province’s esteemed food destinations are available at unbelievably bargain prices.

Introduced to the festival in 2014, it was an added attraction to revelers who might want to sample the best dishes that Bohol can offer without having to break the bank. It was also a way to re-energize the festivity after the destructive earthquake in 2013.

Himog Huni

Himog Huni translates to songwriting. It is a songwriting competition that was founded by Joseph Gara in 2017.

In 2022, it was the competition’s fourth edition that for the first time coincided with the Sandugo Festival, which replaced Sandugo Song Festival that had been conducted in previous years.

Entries are songs written in Cebuano language, and lyrics with a mix of other languages are permitted. Songs selected as finalists are performed during the finals night.

Milk Festival

Milk Festival is a day promoting dairy products that are produced locally. Started in 2017, it coincides with feeding program of children and promotion of local milk production. It is held as a means to establish the province as the dairy capital of the country.

Miss Bohol

Miss Bohol is a prestigious beauty pageant in the province. It is a search for the best candidate who embodies the traits of what it means to be a woman of Bohol in the present times, become a mouthpiece for important advocacy, and is a good role model. Winner becomes the “ambassadress of goodwill”. The search was known previously as Miss Bohol Sandugo.

Night Market

Night Market began in the 1990s and was inspired by Singapore. It is a venue with stalls that are put up selling various arts and crafts, food, snacks, refreshments, beverages, fashion items, and handicrafts.

Queen of Bohol

Queen of Bohol is a beauty pageant for LGBT community. It was established in 2019 as a beauty tilt called Sandugo Queen and later it was rebranded in 2022. It is open for transgender individuals.

Candidates compete in various events that showcase the best of themselves and promote advocacy for social causes particularly those that are related with LGBT concerns. Each candidate is a representative of the localities of the province.

How to reach Bohol

Regular flights are scheduled in Bohol–Panglao International Airport. Ferry and other shipping vessels also ply the routes in surrounding waters connecting from different islands in the country.


Sandugo Festival Summary

NameSandugo Festival
CelebrationCulture, Founding Anniversary, History
DateJuly 22
Historical eventBlood Compact between Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi
OrganizerProvincial Government of Bohol, Isang Dugo Foundation
Simultaneous eventBohol Day