Gawagaway-yan Festival

Gawagaway-yan Festival is a cultural festival and cityhood anniversary of the city of Cauayan, Isabela, Philippines every March 30. The city also celebrates the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of the Pillar, every October.

History of Cauayan City

The Gaddang people were thought to be pioneers in what is now the city of Cauayan, a place named after their native word for bamboos. For many years, they had lived beyond the influence of foreign rule during the colonial period of the Spaniards, for it was not until the 18th century that the area was reached by Christian missionaries. The Dominicans conducted incursions deep into Isabela in their attempts to spread Christianity and to explore the lands from Caraballo to Nueva Ecija led by Fr. Diego dela Torre in 1736. He returned two years later with other companions, namely Fr. Luis de Sierra, Fr. Jose Marine, and Fr. Romualdo Molina.

Cauayan was founded by Fr. Antonio del Campo, O.P. by the floodplains of Magat River in what was called Calanusian on September 8, 1739. Its church, which was declared an ecclesiastical mission on April 22, 1741, was Our Lady of the Pillar as patroness. Afterwards, the town center was transferred in 1768 in the opposite, elevated side of the riverbank to be better defended from attacks launched by the natives. The Igorots would likewise attack nearby lowland settlements, including Cauayan, in the 19th century.

Its people rose to oppose the Spanish colonizers on the grounds of the ban in the planting of tobacco, a cash crop that was one of the primary sources of income, in 1785. The uprising was quelled however. Over a decade later, the tobacco restrictions were slackened.

The municipality was part of the province of Cagayan until it was annexed to Nueva Vizcaya on April 10, 1841. Later, it belonged to Isabela when it was created on May 1, 1856. Throughout history, it was reorganized many times by reducing its total land area and creating the following municipalities: Reina Mercendes (formerly Calanusian, 1886), San Mateo (1942), Luna (formerly Antatet, 1949), and Cabatuan (1949).

Cauayan became a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 9017, otherwise known as An Act Converting the Municipality of Cauayan, Province of Isabela into a Component City to be Known as the City of Cauayan. It was signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on February 28, 2001 and ratified in March 30 after a plebiscite.

History of Gawagaway-yan Festival

Gawagaway-yan Festival was launched as a way to celebrate the cityhood of Cauayan. Its name comes from the Gaddang word for bountiful harvest, thus it is held as a thanksgiving for the city’s progress and development. It is also a celebration of its culture, diversity, tradition, and heritage. In 2015, the merriment witnessed a historic event when it earned the Guiness Book of Records for the largest parade of motorbikes with sidecars.

Gawagaway-yan Festival Activities

The calendar of Gawagaway-yan Festival activities varies. In its 12th anniversary, the calendar spanned until April 14 while in 2017, until April 9. Activities include sports, talent compettions such Cauayan Got Talent, beauty pageant (Miss Cauayan), pet shows, and trade fair.

How to reach Cauayan City, Isabela

Buses are available from Metro Manila, a land trip that would take about seven to eight hours. Alternatively, one can book a flight to Cauayan Airport.


Gawagaway-yan Festival Summary

NameGawagaway-yan Festival
CelebrationCityhood, Culture, Indigenous People, Harvest, Thanksgiving
Contact(078) 652 2205
DateMarch 30
Historical eventConversion of the Municipality of Cauayan to a City in 2001
Indigenous peopleGaddang
LocationCauayan City, Isabela
OrganizerCity Government of Cauayan