Misamis Occidental

Pas’ungko Festival

Pasungko Festival is the founding anniversary, cultural festival celebrating the indigenous people called Subanen, and the biggest festival in the province of Misamis Occidental, Philippines every November 2.

It is the “festival of all festivals” in the province, bringing together the local government units of its constituent towns and cities. Activities take place in Oroquieta City, the capital of the province.

History of Pas’ungko Festival

Pasungko Festival comes from the Subanen word pas’ungko that translates to thanksgiving.

Pas’ungko Festival was first launched in 2010 during the administration of Hermie Ramiro as governor. It was included in the Department of Tourism’s Visit Philippines program in 2015.

Its multi-pronged goals include the celebration of indigenous Subanen people, the display and preservation of their identity and culture, and remembering the historic establishment of the province.

Subanon people

The festival highlights the identity, tradition, and culture of Subanen people. According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the name of this indigenous people can be spelled alternatively as Subanon or Suba’anun. Their name means people who live along riverbanks or “people of the upstream.”

In the olden days, they lived along the coastlines and were the first inhabitants of Misamis Occidental as early as the Neolithic period. They are also found in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and western portion of the island of Mindanao.

However beginning in the 16th century, they fled to remote interior and forested territories to escape the arrival of Spanish colonizers.

They had difficulty moving back to their original homelands because of the growing Spanish presence, the influx of Filipinos who converted to Catholicism and/or who were migrants from other places, the rise of Christian settlements, and the waves of Moro attacks against coastal communities.

The Subanon people are led by the tribal leader called tim’uay. One of their ethnic practices is the buklog, a thanksgiving rite, that is regarded by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage that needs to be preserved.

History of Misamis Occidental

The festival also celebrates the founding of Misamis Occidental, a province that is part of Region 10 which is also called Northern Mindanao that includes Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, and Misamis Oriental. Its name comes from kuyamis that refers to a local variety of coconut. Its importance as a strategic location was recognized early by the Spaniards and later by the British in their plans for invasion of the archipelago sometime in the 18th century.

In the southeast, it is bounded by Panguil Bay which is abundant with natural resources such as fish and whose deep waters allow access for navigation of ships. Settlements along the coastline of the bay were vulnerable to the incursions of Moro raiders who burned, pillaged, and took hostages to be taken away as slaves. A fort was constructed under the command of the Jesuit priest Fr. Jose Ducos in 1755 to protect the bay.

During the Spanish colonial era, it was part of the historical province of Misamis that was under the administration of Cebu and in following years it was established as a corregimiento. In 1818, it became a province subdivided into Partido de Misamis (Misamis and Iligan), Partido de Dapitan, Partido de Cagayan, and Pardio de Catarman (which included the island of Camiguin). It became a district in further reorganizations in Mindanao in later years, including as one of the seven towards the end of the Spanish rule.

During the American period, Act No. 128 was issued on May 15, 1901. The law defined and organized its provincial government. It was split in the years to come such as the separation of Bukidnon (1907) and Iligan (1917, becoming part of Lanao del Norte). Finally, Act No. 3537 was passed by the Philippine Legislature on November 2, 1929 that partitioned Misamis into Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental. This is the date Pas’ungko Festival commemorates as the founding date of the province. The law took effect on the New Year’s Day in 1930.

Pas’ungko Festival Activities

Pas’ungko Festival activities prominently feature the richness of the Subanen culture as expressed through their traditional costumes and rituals. In 2018, its calendar covered almost the entire month of November.

The highlight is the street dance competition where contingents from different localities compete and portray the Subanen people and culture such as their observance of harvest, marriage, and war. Other activities include the trade fair, cultural activities, environmental awareness programs, parade, fireworks display, entertainment, beauty pageant such as the Search for Mutya ng Misamis Occidental, and sporting events.

How to reach Misamis Occidental

Regular flights are scheduled to Ozamis Airport.


Pas’ungko Festival Summary

NamePas’ungko Festival
CelebrationCulture, Founding, Indigenous People
DateNovember 2
FounderHermie Ramiro
Indigenous peopleSubanon
LocationMisamis Occidental
OrganizerProvincial Government of Misamis Occidental