Pagibang Damara Festival is a cultural, agricultural, and religious festival in the town of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, Philippines every second or third Sunday of April. It is a celebration of thanksgiving for an abundant harvest, and it is also held in time with feast day of St. Joseph, the city’s patron.
Pagibang Damara Festival
Pagibang Damara Festival was first mounted by the local government in 1999. This yearly event encapsulates the city’s historical and cultural roots in farming.
The fest keeps alive the custom of its people working in the farms in the olden times. A damara (also called mandala) was erected in the fields as they’re about to plant crops. It was a humble structure made of readily available building materials like bamboo and nipa leaves.
Damara was a place where farm workers gathered to take a break or where they could take shelter from the elements such as sudden rain or unbearable heat. Because it was built when farmers were sowing the fields, its construction marked the start of the agricultural season.
During harvest time, the damara was torn down (giba). The community gathered together in a celebration and merry-making for the abundant harvest. They engaged in revelry such as singing their favorite tunes and dancing. They also offered their gratitude to St. Joseph, their patron, for their harvest.
Thus, the Pagibang Damara Festival was the conclusion of the farming season, an occasion when people gave thanks for the bounty of the earth and they reaped the fruits of their labor.
Tanduyong Festival was one of the highlights of the larger Pagibang Damara Festival. Established in 1997, it was a representation of the agrarian economy, identity, and culture of the city. Its schedule was every last Sunday of April.
Furthermore, the fest was a showcase of onion products. The city is well-known for its production of a variety of onion called tanduyong, from which the festival’s name came. San Jose City is known as the Onion Capital of the Philippines.
The fest is characterized by dance contingents presenting their ritual dances. Their costumes are made of and/or inspired by agriculture and onion.
Devotion to St. Joseph in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija
Augustinian friars spread Christianity in Nueva Ecija during the colonial era. From their missionary efforts, several parishes began. One of the parishes that they built was Puncan, to which San Jose (which was called Kabiritan) belonged.
Kabiritan became part of Lupao until it was founded as a separate town in 1894. In the same year, it was renamed San Jose after St. Joseph.
Roman Catholic churches in Nueva Ecija belonged to the Diocese of Nueva Segovia, and then to the Diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan in 1928. Afterwards, it was annexed to the Diocese of Cabanatuan when it was founded on June 4, 1963.
St. Joseph Parish was elevated to a cathedral when the Diocese of San Jose was founded in 1984. The diocese covers the northern portion of Nueva Ecija.
Pagibang Damara Festival Activities
Pagibang Damara Festival activities include thanksgiving mass, trade fair, sports, talent contests, competitions, party, beauty pageant (Mr. and Ms. San Jose City), etc.
How to reach San Jose City, Nueva Ecija
Regular bus trips are available from Metro Manila to Nueva Ecija.
- Cuyno, Leah Marquez. Onion Variety. Virginia Tech. October 25, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- Nueva Ecija. Department of Tourism. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- Victoria S. Lamucho, Teodora T. Battad. The Tanduyong Festival: A Ritual of Thanksgiving. Various Religious Beliefs and Practices in the Philippines, Volume 1. Rex Bookstore, Inc. 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- Jazzmine Quiambao. April Agriculture Festivals 2023. April 4, 2023. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- Years before. City Government of San Jose, Nueva Ecija. July 5, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- Diocese of Cabanatuan. Union of Catholic Asian News. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- Diocese of San Jose Nueva Ecija. Union of Catholic Asian News. Retrieved April 29, 2023
- History. The Roman Catholic of the Diocese of San Jose. Retrieved April 29, 2023