Northern Samar

Ibabao Festival

Ibabao Festival, also known as Northern Samar Foundation Day, is a founding anniversary in the province of Northern Samar, Philippines every June 19. It is also dubbed as Northern Samar’s Festival of Festivals as it is a gathering of different cultural festivals conducted by the province’s component towns.

The date is a special nonworking holiday in the entire province by virtue of Republic Act No. 9414 approved on March 24, 2007.


Ibabao Festival come from ibabao, which means upper location or a site located above another place. Ibabao was also the old name of Northern Samar in precolonial times, a land that stretched over the present-day towns Biri to Borongan.

Additionally, Ibabao is also a language with its speakers found in Barangay San Antonio in Biri, Barangay Cabadiangan in Batag Island in the municipality of Laoang, the towns of Mapanas, Gamay, and Lapinig.

History of Ibabao Festival

Ibabao Festival was organized by the provincial government to bring Northern Samar in the calendar of country’s festivals, to celebrate its rich culture and heritage, and to promote the province as a tourist destination. It was also conducted in the run-up to the 60th foundation year of the year in 2025.

It was launched in time for the 58th founding anniversary of the province in 2023 during the incumbency of Governor Edwin Onchuan. According to Onchuan, “Through the Ibabao Festival, we hope to foster cultural awareness, engender deeper appreciation of the history, cultural heritage, and development of Northern Samar, and instill pride, integrity, understanding, and unity among the present and future generations of Norte Samarnons.”

With a budget of ten million pesos, its inaugural activity was a float parade participated by nineteen entries representing constituent municipalities held on June 4, 2023. In that event, the entry of the town of San Jose took home the grand prize followed by Lope de Vega and Catubig.

In that year, the Kadayaw Festival of Pambujan won as the grand champion of the festival competition with Lobika Festival of Lope de Vega and Parayan Festival of San Roque as runners-up.

Furthermore, the winner of Mutya san Ibabao was Meg Di (Lavezares) and the runners-up were Emeliene Marie Rubenecia (Catarman) and Kathleen Esquillo (Bobon).

History of Northern Samar

Ibabao Festival marks the foundation of Northern Samar.

During Spanish times, Jesuit missionaries introduced Christianity in Ibabao in the 16th century. Fr. Miguel Gomez and Brother Juan Ontiñeda, who came from their residence in Tinago (present-day Tarangnan, Samar), visited Catubig in 1597. Their mission however was closed because of lack of spiritual ministers. It was revisited by Fr. Juan Sanlucar in 1601 and Fr. Juan de Torres in 1603 until it was revitalized as a mission station in 1605.

The mission in Catubig was moved to Palapag, established earlier in 1605 under the patronage of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, in 1616. It was named Residencia de Cabo del Espiritu Santo.

In 1649, Agustin Sumoroy led the opposition against the Spaniards in what is now known as Sumoroy Revolt. Sumoroy was a man of distinction. He was born as a son of babaylan and he was chosen as the leader of the garrison. It was also his role to look out for Dutch ships infesting in the seas and warn incoming Spanish galleons of the enemy’s presence.

Unfortunately, he received rebuke for leaving his wife and engaging in an adulterous relationship with another woman. His lover was sent by the Jesuits to Catubig to put an end to the affair. In secrecy, he attracted a following of men who held grievances against colonial authority; namely, they protested an order requiring them to work in Cavite shipyards to bolster the colonial fleet.

On the fateful night of June 1, 1649, Sumoroy attacked and killed Fr. Miguel Ponce. The armed resistance spread as far as Sorsogon, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro. However, the Spaniards sent a military force from Zamboanga and put a siege against Sumoroy’s encampment on a hill. Sumoroy was killed by his followers who wished to be spared from being put to death by Spanish soldiers.

Its people participated in revolution against the Americans through a force led by General Vicente Lukban and later through guerilla attacks. During World War II, they were also actively involved in anti-Japanese resistance made of volunteers that became a branch of the Philippine National Guard.

The province of Northern Samar was born by virtue of Republic Act No. 4221. The law was sponsored by Representatives Eladio T. Balite, Fernando R. Veloso, and Felipe J. Abrigo. It was approved on June 19, 1965, and this is the date used for the founding anniversary.

Ibabao Festival Activities

Activities of Ibabao Festival include a beauty pageant Mutya San Ibabao (previously called Miss Northern Samar), grand float parade, Agri-Tourism Trade Fair, night market, cultural and commemorative program, Kauswagan Awards, and Festival of Festivals (a competition of cultural fests participated by contingents sent by municipalities).

List of cultural festivals in Northern Samar

Katig-uban FestivalAllenThird Sunday of January
Kaway FestivalBiriFebruary 11
Agta FestivalBobonJanuary 22
Sto. Niño de Capul FestivalCapulLast Sunday of January
SaradsadCapulJuly 31
Tarum FestivalCatarmanLast Sunday of January
Embajada FestivalCatubigJanuary 1
Lubi FestivalGamayMarch 3
Lawag FestivalLaoangSeptember 28
Manangiti FestivalLas NavasJuly 9
Pinonayan FestivalLavezaresThird Sunday of January
Lobika FestivalLope de VegaJanuary 8
Abanico FestivalMondragonSeptember 22
Pagdayaw FestivalPalapagOctober 1
Kadayaw FestivalPambujanFirst Full Moon
Kinis FestivalRosarioJune 21
Carang FestivalSan JoseJuly 25
Parayan FestivalSan RoqueMarch 16
Harasuk FestivalSilvino LobosJune 18
Sangyaw FestivalVictoriaLast Sunday of January
Cultural festivals in Northern Samar

How to reach Northern Samar

One can book a flight from Manila to Catarman National Airport.


Ibabao Festival Summary

NameIbabao Festival
CelebrationFounding anniversary
Contact(055) 500 9694
DateJune 19
EstablishedJune 4, 2023
FounderEdwin Onchuan
Historical eventThe date of approval of Republic Act No. 4221 into law that created the province of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Western Samar
LocationNorthern Samar
OrganizerProvincial Government of Northern Samar