Balayong Festival

Balayong Festival is a cultural festival and founding anniversary in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines every March 14. It is an annual celebration of history as it remembers the beginning of Puerto Princesa in the 19th century. Its calendar of activities showcases a diverse array of festivities, cultural performances, and environmental initiatives.


Balayong Festival draws its name from balayong, a word originating from the local Cuyuno language that refers to a tree that is indigenous to Palawan.

Balayong tree

Balayong (Cassia nodosa) is a small to medium-sized tree, typically growing to about ten meters. It is native to the province of Palawan, although it can be cultivated elsewhere and some people are able to grow the plant in the cities. Its compound leaflets are arranged alternately along the stem, and they are a source of food to the native wildlife.

With a rounded crown and spreading branches, balayong produces flowers whose blooms are characterized by clusters of pink blossoms that are delicately small and fragrant, and they often attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

They bloom generally during the months of February and March, transforming the landscape in a way that is likened with the popular cherry blossoms of Japan. Hence, it is also called Philippine cherry or Palawan cherry.

The tree is important to the local culture, as it holds cultural and ecological significance in Puerto Princesa City and throughout Palawan.

History of Balayong Festival

Balayong Festival was conceptualized by Ellen M. Hagedorn. It was organized as an outlet for promoting balayong tree and improving the profile of the city through showcasing its natural beauty and cultural heritage.

The first Balayong Festival was launched in 2005, becoming an annual tradition that celebrates the unique cultural heritage and environmental richness of Palawan. It was marked with the planting of a thousand Balayong trees in a nature park as part of the efforts to revive their presence and promote environmental conservation.

Following its successful organization, the local government officially declared March 4th as Balayong Festival that coincides with the city’s founding anniversary.

History of Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa is thought to have been named after a mythical lady who inhabited its enchanting terrain. What is certain is it was named after the daughter of Queen Isabella II and Francisco Cadiz, the Princess Asuncion who was born in 1864. It was called Puerto de la Princesa and over time, it was shortened to Puerto Princesa.

Historically, Palawan was an ideal harbor on account of its natural geography that affords protection and the depth of its surrounding seas allowed navigation of shipping vessels. Its history traces back to the early days as an Islamic territory between 13th and 15th century. Muslims entered the Philippines through two routes, one was through the southern channel in Mindanao and the other in Palawan.

When the Spaniards arrived, they first established their authority in the northern portion over the islands of the Calamianes group while the southern tip was under Islamic control.

They gained an advantage after a garrison was erected in Taytay that was capable of holding 700 men in the 18th century, and it became the center of colonial influence and power in that part of the archipelago. Afterwards, the Sultanate of Borneo gave up the rest of Palawan to the Spaniards.

On March 4, 1872, the Spaniards explored the province and came upon a hillock that gave way to a wide plains. This was the origin of Puerto Princesa, and the date is the basis of the yearly Balayong Festival.

Puerto Princesa became a capital of the historical province of Asturias. (Palawan at that time was organized into two provinces, Castilla that comprised the north including Calamianes and Asturias for the remaining lands.) Fr. Antonio Muro erected a chapel, the site of which is the present-day cathedral.

Balayong Festival Activities

The schedule of Balayong Festival usually begins in the last week of February and its culminating events fall on March 4. In 2024, its calendar spanned beginning in February 10.

Among the highlights are a beauty pageant (Miss Puerto Princesa, Binibining Seksi), tree planting, tourneys, food fair, shows, competitions, concerts, talent contests, grand parade, and fireworks display.

How to reach Puerto Princesa, Palawan

The most convenient is to book a flight to Puerto Princesa International Airport.


Balayong Festival Summary

NameBalayong Festival
Contact(048) 717 8000
DateMarch 4
FounderEllen M. Hagedorn
LocationPuerto Princesa, Palawan
OrganizerCity Government of Puerto Princesa