Sulyog Festival is a cultural and religious festival in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines every March 19. It is a thanksgiving merriment as well as an expression of veneration to the town’s patron saint, St. Joseph.
History of Sulyog Festival
Sulyog Festival puts a spotlight on agricultural produce of the town of Bongabong and the gratitude of its people for a fruitful harvest and blessings received all year round. (Bongabong is known as the Center for Organic Farming in Oriental Mindoro.) Its name is a portmanteau of suli, which means banana in the language of the indigenous Mangyan people, and niyog, which refers to coconut.
The cultural dance of the festival reflects the agricultural industry particularly of these two crops. Through their gestures and movements, their performances may give ode to the way farmers harvest banana and coconut and the gathering of copra (dried coconut meat, an important ingredient in the production of coconut oil and animal feeds).
Aside from being a thanksgiving celebration, it is also an annual showcase of the talents of the townsfolk.
Because of restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the fest’s public gatherings were put on hold for three years starting in 2020. They resumed in 2023.
Devotion to St. Joseph
The Jesuits from Naujan first arrived in 17th century and they established the church near the Bongabong River. They were replaced by the Augustinian Recollects in the succeeding years. The center of the town was moved several times from Anilao to Mararog due to frequent Moro attacks until it was finally relocated to its present site.
In 2023, St. Joseph Parish Church celebrated its 85th year anniversary, thus placing its founding in 1938. It also stated that it was celebrating 389 years as a Christian community, which comes down to the year 1638 that Christianity was introduced in the town.
Sulyog Festival Activities
Religious activities in honor of St. Joseph take place at St. Joseph Parish Church. Novena prayers and masses begin in March 10. Grand procession, fluvial parade, Indak San Jose (street dance in honor of the patron), and Parangal sa Patron occur in March 18, which is also the last day of the novena. A motorcade was scheduled before the start of the novena in 2023.
On the other hand, the municipal government of Bongabong is responsible of the secular activities. In 2023, the calendar began in March 15 and ended in March 19. Activities included talent contests, mass wedding, trade fair, Mardi Gras, band exhibition, entertainment, variety shows, caravan, and street dancing. The first Lechon Parade was held alongside the Indak San Jose that year.
How to reach Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro
From Manila, you can travel to Batangas port and from there take a ferry ride to Oriental Mindoro. The province can also be reached through the ports located Bulalacao, Dangay, Muelle, and Balatero.
- Sulyog Festival. Oriental Mindoro Tourism. March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2023
- Kathleen D. Villa, Alex Palacio, Christabelle Abad, Patricia Gamboa. THIS WEEK’S FESTIVALS: March 17-23, 2019. Philippine Daily Inquirer. March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 19, 2023
- Holidays — Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro. Senate of the Philippines. Retrieved March 19, 2023
- History of City and Municipalities. Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro. Retrieved March 20, 2023