Abaca Festival is a cultural and agricultural festival in the province of Catanduanes, Philippines every fourth week of May. In pre-pandemic period, it drew 200,000 visitors to the island-province. The province, which also celebrates the Catandungan Festival, is regarded the Abaca Capital of the Philippines by virtue of Republic Act No. 11700 that became a law on April 15, 2022.
History of Abaca Festival
Previously called Catanduanes Abaka Festival, Abaca Festival is week-long and gives the limelight to the fiber industry based on abaca (scientific name Musa textilis) that is also known as Manila hemp. It is the raw material for many woven and derivative products locally made in the province, in the Bicol region, and in many parts of the country. Its fiber is used in many products and application such as in automobile, textile, tea bags, currency papers, filters, handicrafts, and other items. In addition, environmental concerns have meant manufacturers are switching from synthetic materials towards sustainable and organic alternatives like abaca.
Catanduanes had a total revenue of $120 million exporting abaca and its by-products in 2012. According to an article from Business Mirror in 2015, it dedicated 35,500 hectares of agricultural land for the cultivation of the plant. The industry employed over 15,000 farm workers and produced 19,000 metric tons of hemp fiber. It also supplied 90% in Bicol and over a third in the Philippines in 2020. The Philippines meanwhile is one of the leading supplier of the fiber in the global market.
The festival was established by virtue of Provincial Ordinance No. 021 Series of 2015. It recognized the importance of abaca in the local economy and the fest was created as a vehicle for its promotion. The first Abaca Festival was held the following year in May of 2016 within the term of then Governor Araceli Wong.
Moreover, it is a celebration of culture and tradition. It also highlights the resilience of its people particularly that the island could suffer the brunt of typhoons coming from the Pacific annually. However, the fest was halted in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus threat. It was conducted again in 2022.
Abaca Festival Activities
Activities of Abaca Festival take place in Virac, the capital of the province. They include entertainment, artistic, and cultural shows, dance contests, street dancing competition, parade, pageants, trade fair, and fashion shows.
Hagot is the local term that refers to the act of stripping fibers off from abaca plant. It’s become a mainstay in the fest where people join in a competition using the modified abaca stripping knife.
How to reach Catanduanes
Book a flight to Virac, Catanduanes from Manila.
- Abaca Festival. Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines. Retrieved November 25, 2022
- Rhaydz Barcia. Catanduanes revives Abaca Festival. The Manila Times. June 2, 2022. Retrieved November 25, 2022
- Michael Jaucian. Catanduanes restages Abaca Festival. Philippine Daily Inquirer. May 30, 2022. Retrieved November 25, 2022
- Connie Calipay. ‘Abaca capital’ declaration seen to boost Catanduanes tourism. Philippine News Agency. May 1, 2022. Retrieved November 25, 2022
- Catanduanes gets ready for 1st Abaca Festival. Business Mirror. March 3, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2022
- Chit Aldave-Tribiana. Abaca farming turns Catanduanes into a ‘Happy Island’. The Philippine Star. June 17, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2022
- Weaving dreams. Manila Standard. June 9, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2022
- Republic Act No. 11700. Official Gazette. Retrieved November 25, 2022