Nueva Ecija

Banatu Festival

Banatu Festival is the founding anniversary of the city of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines held every February 3.

Cabanatuan is known as the gateway to the north Luzon and the tricycle capital of the country on the account of the thousands of tricycles (a motorcycle fitted with a sidecar) on its streets.

February 3 is declared a special non-working holiday in the city through from the Office of the President by virtue of Republic Act No. 11375 signed on August 22, 2019.

History of Banatu Festival

For years, Cabanatuan City holds Araw ng Cabanatuan every February 3. Starting in 2008, it was called Longganisa Festival after its famous product, the longganisa Cabanatuan. It is an annual event organized by the city government to celebrate its culture and history.

In 2015, the Banatu Festival was launched and it comes from the banatu which refers to a vine plant that grows along Pampanga River. It was one of the proposed origins of the name of the city, the others were Kabatuhan (a place of stone) and Kaban ng Tuan (a treasure chest of the elite). The festival was launched within the tenure of Mayor Julius Cesar V. Vergara in time for the 65th anniversary.

History of Cabanatuan City

During Spanish colonial times, Cabanatuan was organized as a village called Barrio of Gapan in 1750 and became a municipality in 1777. It was the capital of the province of Nueva Ecija twice, the first in 1780 but was replaced by the town of San Isidro in 1850 and the second time in 1917 during the American occupation. It remained so until 1965 when once again it was replaced by Palayan City.

It was in Plaza Lucero in front of St. Nicholas of Tolentino Cathedral that General Antonio Luna died from an assassination hatched by Pedro Janolino, a loyal man of Emilio Aguinaldo, on June 5, 1899.

There was much grief and misery here at the hands of Japanese military forces during World War II. The Japanese entered the town on December 29, 1941 and utilized several structures like churches and schools for military services. Many people were tortured, put into forced labor, and eventually died. It was also in Camp Pangatian that soldiers from Bataan and Corregidor who were at the Death March were held. The camp has since been a tourist site called Camp Pangatian Shrine.

The town suffered further destruction by air raids conducted by the American liberation forces in 1945. But a daring rescue mission stood out from the grim stories of war. In what is now called the Raid of Cabanatuan, 500 prisoners in Camp Pangatian were freed and saved from their captors by the combined forces of the guerilla movement and U.S. Army 6th Ranger Battalion on January 30, 1945.

The town became a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 526 otherwise known as An Act Creating the City of Cabanatuan that was approved on June 16, 1950.

Its old city hall was also a place of historic significance. On June 4, 1980, it caught fire in a suspected case of arson that was politically motivated and the incumbent mayor Honorato C. Perez Sr. jumped from the second floor to save his life. A new city hall was built with the groundbreaking rites on July 14, 1982 and it was inaugurated on February 3, 1984.

Banatu Festival Activities

When it was first mounted in 2015, Banatu Festival had a five-day calendar that began in January 30. In 2023, its schedule started in January 25. The fest is a showcase of the city local products like longganisa Cabanatuan, a sausage made of beef and also called batutay. Among its many activities are cook-fest, cultural shows and activities with the purpose of preservation (such as zarzuela and native kite-making), performing arts, entertainment, beauty pageants (Miss Gay Cabanatuan, Ginoong Tricycle Driver, Binibining Cabanatuan), and on the founding date is the Gawad Parangal (awards ceremony) of Natatanging Anak ng Kabanatuan.

How to reach Cabanatuan City

From Metro Manila, Cabanatuan city can be reached through land trip that would last about three to four hours by buses or private vehicles through North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).


Banatu Festival Summary

NameBanatu Festival
CelebrationCulture, Founding anniversary, History
DateFebruary 3
Duration5 - 8 days
Historical eventFounding of Cabanatuan
LocationCabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
OrganizerCity Government of Cabanatuan
Previous NameAraw ng Cabanatuan, Longganisa Festival