Ilocos Sur

Tobacco Festival

Tobacco Festival is a festival of culture, history, agriculture, and cityhood in the city of Candon, Ilocos Sur, Philippines every March. Besides celebrating the tradition and identity of its people as well as the tobacco industry, the fest commemorates the Cry of Candon during the Philippine Revolution every March 25th and its transformation to a city in 2001 every March 28.

The 25th of March is a special nonworking holiday in the city to remember the Cry of Candon by virtue of Republic Act No. 9198 that was signed on March 24, 2003.

History of City of Candon

The name of Candon is believed to have come from a native tree or inspired by a place of similar name in Spain. The Augustinian missionaries arrived in 1591 and they erected St. John of Sahagun Church (previously its patron was St. Francis of Assisi) in 1695. Afterwards, the town was organized in 1780 and a civil government was installed led by Juan P. Madarang.

The town of Candon was elevated to a city through Republic, otherwise known as “An Act Converting the Municipality of Candon, Province of Ilocos Sur into a Component City to be Known as the City of Candon.” The law was approved by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on March 5, 2001 and enacted in a plebiscite on March 28 of the same year. This is the date that Tobacco Festival commemorates every year.

Cry of Candon (Ikkis ti Candon)

Cry of Candon is also known as Ikkis ti Candon in the language of its people took. It was a historic event towards the end of the colonization of the Philippines by the Spaniards in retaliation to the abuses and injustices suffered by the Filipinos at the hands of the foreign colonizers. The revolutionaries led by Isabelo Ayala defeated and forced the Spanish forces to retreat from the town on March 25, 1898.

Prior to the fateful day, the townsfolk formed groups in opposition of the Spanish authorities in 1896 and two years later. They hatched a plan to overthrow the local government by embarking an attack on April 1, 1898. However, one of their members were captured and their secret plot was discovered.

Forced by the circumstances, Abaya and his soldiers launched an assault at an early date in March 25 against the convent and expelled the Spaniards. Abaya then proclaimed the land independent of colonial control by establishing the Republica de Filipinas Katipunan de Candon. The revolutionaries occupied the convent and municipal hall, conducting Guirnalda into position as president and Abaya as commander in chief.

The Spaniards staged a counter-attack, and Abaya and his soldiers fled to Sagada, Mountain Province in March 27. Their escape effectively ended the revolutionary government that they set up and the Spaniards completely recaptured the town the next day.

The heroism of Abaya did not end there, however. He joined the revolution with the Igorot on August 15, 1898 and represented them at Malolos, Bulacan in January 1899. He would then join the cause against the Americans when they occupied the country in 1899. After the Filipinos were defeated at the Battle of Pasongan on May 3, 1900, he was captured and killed by the Americans.

His monument (him on horseback and wielding a sword in his right hand) is found at the town plaza.

History of Tobacco Festival

Tobacco Festival also celebrates the tobacco industry of Candon City, which is considered the Tobacco Capital of the Philippines.

Its tobacco industry originates in the 1950s when the first Virginia tobacco were planted. From then on, its production has become a growth engine, providing livelihood to the people and progress to the city. According to a report in 2008, growers produced 11 million kilos of the crop yearly and the city government collected 16 million pesos in taxes.

Aside from tobacco, the city is also known for crops such as corn and rice.

Tobacco Festival Activities

Activities in Tobacco Festival are multi-faceted. In 2015, the first Calamay and Cornik Festival was introduced into the festival calendar. It gave the spotlight on two local delicacies, calamay (believed to have begun in Spanish times) and cornik (whose production started before the war).

In 2023, the calendar spanned from March 18 to 28. The first ever Miss Tobacco Philippines was launched in the same year. Other activities included wreath laying at the monument of Isabelo Abaya in commemoration of the Cry of Candon, sports, contests, live band, concerts, variety and cultural shows, parade, street dance, etc.

How to reach Candon City, Ilocos Sur

Bus trips are available to Ilocos Sur from Metro Manila. The most convenient is to book a trip to Laoag Airport, which is about three hours away from Candon City.


Tobacco Festival Summary

NameTobacco Festival
CelebrationAgriculture, Cityhood, Culture, History,
Contact0917 568 3261
DateMarch 28
Duration10 days
Historical eventCry of Candon (March 25), Cityhood Anniversary (March 28)
LocationCandon City, Ilocos Sur
OrganizerCity Government of Candon