Rodeo Masbateño Festival

Rodeo Masbateño Festival is a summertime festival in the province of Masbate, Philippines that celebrates its culture and cattle industry every second week of April. It is also referred to as Rodeo Festival or Rodeo Masbateño.

With activities occurring in Masbate City, the capital of the province, and a week-long calendar, the festival has grown popular over the years that it became known as the biggest rodeo festival in the Philippines and Masbate as the home of the Philippine rodeo.

History of Rodeo Masbateño Festival

Rodeo Masbateño Festival is a toast to the way of life of the people working in livestock raising in the province. And it is one of the events alongside those held in Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte that make the Philippines the only country in Southeast Asia that celebrates rodeo culture.

This yearly fest was conceptualized by a group called MAKUSOG in 1992. The fest was organized to bolster the profile of the province as a tourist destination and as a way to revitalize its flagging cattle industry.

The first Rodeo Masbateño Festival was launched within the tenure of Emilio Espinosa Jr. as governor in 1993. Originally called Rodeo Filipino, it’s become known as Rodeo Masbateño Festival around 2000 or 2001. On September 2, 2002, then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 120 that declared Masbate as the rodeo capital of the Philippines.

In 2018, the yearly fest was a chance to show unity among political leaders and rivals.

Cattle industry in Masbate

Masbate is part of the Bicol region that also consists of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon. It is made up of three islands: the mainland, Burias, and Ticao. Located in the middle of the Philippine archipelago, it is in between Luzon and Visayas.

Its cattle industry dates back to the centuries-long Spanish colonization. Its beginnings could have occurred during the establishment of trading route between the Philippines and Mexico called the Manila Galleon Trade or Manila-Alcapulco Galleon Trade. It is believed that from this trade cows and bulls were brought to the island for raising.

The province is suitable for cattle with its wide terrains, grass diversity, and climate.

In the past, it was full of forests owing to a general lack of agricultural activities. Its forests were untouched from human exploitation due to the immense cost of clearing the lands, the frequency of Moro raids particularly along the coastlines, locust infestation in the 1840s, the preference of the inhabitants for hunting as a source of food in those times, and the official policy enforced during the Spanish era that protected forestland.

In 1868, however, a shift in policy saw extensive deforestation that changed the ecological lay-out of the province to one with vast tracts of grass plains.

In the 1880s, five percent of its total land area were utilized for cattle and in 2015 it increased to forty percent. The province had about a 130 ranchers with more than 40,000 heads of cattle according to a 2015 news article from Philippine Daily Inquirer. It produced about 10,000 live weight metric tons yearly according to a government report in 2020, making it one of the top ten provinces in the industry and the biggest in the Bicol region.

In a country where nine out of ten cattle are raised in the backyard, the province led in terms of commercial cattle population.

Additionally, beef products from Masbate are known for distinct, savory taste, a quality that is attributed to the grazing of animals in open fields.

Masbate is called by different names: the cattle capital, ranch capital, cowboy country, and the cattle country of the Philippines.

Rodeo Masbateño Festival Activities

Rodeo Masbateño Festival showcases activities that reflect what it’s like to be involved in raising animals such as bull-riding, bull-whipping, carambola, casting down, lassoing, load carrying, whipping, penning, and wrestling (on foot and horseback).

A parade of horses opened the festivities in 2017. While they have been traditionally exclusive to male participants in earlier editions of the fest, they have since been opened to female competitors that made the festivity inclusive. Other activities include livestock auction, trade fair, street dance, cook fest, parade, beauty pageant (Mr. & Ms. Rodeo Masbateño), etc.

And perhaps its most noteworthy is the Wild West images of people in cowboy/cowgirl costume (picture this: cowboy hat, jean, leather boots, shirts), icons that are inspired by American movies.


Participants attempt to ride a bull and stay on its back at least eight seconds.


Carambola is a contest that reflects what it’s like to handle cattle in the fields. As part of their job, workers are asked to restrain an animal without riding a horse and on foot.

As an event, participants are in an arena with a freed cattle. They use skills such as reading body language of the animal, understanding what part of its body is vulnerable and can be tackled, and anticipating its movements. The goal is to successfully subdue, tame, and pin it down.

Casting down

Casting down is a competition where a free cattle is tied with the use of ropes. Once its head and body get caught in knots, it is brought down to the ground.


Penning is an event where horseback riders are asked to herd two cattle to a designated pen.

How to reach Masbate

Bus trips are available in Metro Manila to Pilar, Sorsogon, and from there you can get a ferry ride to Masbate City. Ferries are also available from southern Luzon and Cebu. The most convenient is to book a flight to Masbate Airport from Metro Manila or Cebu.


Rodeo Masbateño Festival Summary

NameRodeo Masbateño Festival
CelebrationCulture, Rodeo
DateSecond week of April
Duration1 week
OrganizerVolunteer Rodeo Officials and Organizers of Masbate (VROOM), the technical arm of Rodeo Masbateño, Inc.
Other NamesRodeo Festival, Rodeo Masbateño
Previous NameRodeo Filipino