Kabkaban Festival is a cultural and religious festival in Carcar City, Cebu, Philippines every November 25. It is held as a celebration in honor of the patroness of the city, St. Catherine of Alexandria.
It is one of the participating cultural fest in the Pasigarbo sa Sugbo.
One source states that the name of the fest comes from bakbakan, a word that means to be involved in a clash or fight.
Another mentions that it is derived from Kabkad or Kabkab, referring to a fern that was abundant in the area as well as the old name of Carcar. Interestingly, it is possible that the Spaniards might have named the town after a municipality in Spain.
History of Kabkaban Festival
Kabkaban Festival began in the 1990s. Its schedule coincides with the religious fiesta of St. Catherine of Alexandria every November.
In the past, it used to remember the indigenous opposition to the Spanish rule during colonial times. Over time, it has become a celebration of everything that the city stands for: its identity, culture, arts, tradition, and heritage.
Devotion to St. Catherine of Alexandria
Christianity in Carcar and the devotion to the patroness came with the arrival of the Spaniards.
Augustinian friars established their convent in Sialo, present-day Valladolid, in May 1599. It began as a visita of Santo Nino Church (see Sinulog Festival) until 1611 when it was annexed to San Nicolas. By April 1617, it attained independence as a parish whose titular is St. Catherine of Alexandria.
The church in Sialo was erected to strengthen the presence of the missionaries south of the Cebu island. Historical records showed that the friars stopped calling the settlement Sialo, and instead it was called Carcar beginning in 1620.
The old ayutamiento in Sialo was abandoned due to destuctive incursions by Moro raiders. The new site where the colonial-era church is located is situated on a hill some distance from the shore, ensuring that people could be given timely warning of any threats and they may seek refuge within the safety of the church walls and towers.
In the 19th century, its lands were productive of export crops such as sugar, copra, and abaca that brought prosperity to its people. The stone church was built by Fr. Antonio Manglano in 1860. It was completed in sixteen years by Fr. Manuel Rubio Fernandez in 1876.
Kabkaban Festival Activities
The centerpiece of Kabkaban Festival is the street dancing competition and parade. It features grace and energy in the performances, creativity in the dance movements and costumes, and lively street music.
Other much-awaited events are beauty pageants (Miss Carcar, Binibining Kabkaban), competitions, sports tourney, and various contests.
Along with the secular events are the religious services such as procession, novena, blessing of palayok (clay jar), and pontifical mass.
How to reach Carcar City, Cebu
From Mactan International Airport in Lapu-lapu City or sea ports of Cebu City, one can reach South Bus Terminal and hop on a two-hour ride to Carcar City.
- Kabkaban Festival: A Celeberation of Cebuano Cutlure and Tradition. City Government of Carcar. March 25, 2023. Retrieved October 16, 2023
- Simbahan ng Carcar. National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved October 16, 2023
- Cañete, Reuben. St. Catherine’s Church in Carcar, Cebu—a noble church on the hill. BluPrint. April 2, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2023
- Carcar – St. Catherine of Alexandria Church. Augustinian Churches. September 24, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2023