Baragatan Festival is the biggest convergence festival, a cultural event, and founding anniversary in the province of Palawan, Philippines held every June 23. Also called Baragatan sa Palawan Festival, it is a commemoration of the establishment of its first civil government after the end of the Philippine-American War.
With a calendar that stretches for weeks, its major activities that are participated by the different towns and cities of the province take place in the capital of Puerto Princesa City.
History of Baragatan Festival
Baragatan Festival comes from the word bagat, a word in Cuyunon language that means to gather or to meet.
The schedule of the fest coincides with the founding day which is observed in June 23 every year. It was set into local legislation when Provincial Resolution No. 154 was passed on May 12, 1988. Then in 1997, Executive Order No. 2 was issued by Salvador Socrates that declared the date as foundation day.
Additionally, June 23 is a special non-working holiday in the province including Puerto Princesa City through Republic Act No. 9748 that was approved by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on November 10, 2009.
The event was not held in 2019 due to elections. In the following years of 2020 and 2021 it was put on hold because of coronavirus pandemic and only in 2022 that it was revived.
History of Palawan
Baragatan Festival is a celebration of the founding of Palawan. This Philippine province is part of the Southwestern Tagalog Region which is also called Mimaropa consisting of the provinces of Mindoro (Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro), Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.
It is located in the western portion of the country that extends in the West Philippine Sea and Sulu Sea, and home to ethno-linguistic groups of Tagbanuas and Batahs.
Once part of the land bridges during Pleistocene epoch connecting to Borneo, it is made up of many islands and islets. Its mainland is called Palawan from which the name of the province comes from.
For many thousands of years it was populated by aboriginal people. Before the coming of the Spaniards, it had settlements that were founded with the arrival of the waves of migrants including the Malays in the 12th century, and the growing population entered into prosperous trading with foreign merchants.
During the Spanish colonial era, parts of Palawan belonged to the sultanate of Borneo for two centuries. The first few areas that came under colonial rule were those in the northern tip such as the islands of Calamianes.
Efforts to evangelize the natives and to establish administrative control over them were greeted with fierce opposition, and in locations where they had presence they were susceptible to destructive Moro raids so strongholds were put up to protect Christian communities. By 1749, Palawan broke free from Islamic rule and came into the governance of the Spaniards.
It was reorganized several times towards the end of the Spanish colonization, having split into the Castilla and Asturias and later into Castilla and Paragua.
Within the American occupation, it was established as one province of Paragua by virtue of Act No. 422 on June 23, 1902, and this is the date that Baragatan Festival commemorates.
Finally, its name was changed from Paragua to Palawan by the Philippine Commission through the passage of Act No. 1363 on June 28, 1905.
Baragatan Festival Activities
Baragatan Festival is a showcase of cultural heritage of the province (as expressed through music and dance, display of locally made products that exhibits the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its people) and unity, and a tourism drive to visit the many beautiful spots in the province.
Its activities include games, sporting events, arts exhibits, and various competitions in visual arts, parades, float, performing arts in singing and dancing, song-writing,street dance called Saraotan sa Dalan, and Pantiguan sa Dalan (a contest participated by officials). It also boasts of garden shows called Halamanan sa Baragatan, cultural shows, concerts, and other entertainment.
Barakalan sa Baragatan
Barakalan sa Baragatan is one of the fest’s mainstays. It is an agro-trade fair usually held in the grounds of the provincial capitol. It is participated by towns and cities of the province where they exhibit the best of their locally produced products.
Bonsai and Suiseki Show and Competition
Bonsai and Suiseki Show and Competition was launched in 2016. It is an opportunity for people to learn and win prizes in taking care of bonsai plants and aesthetics of suiseki natural stones.
Caraenan sa Dalan
Caraenan sa Dalan is one for the people looking exciting local cuisines. The event positions the province as a food destination. Visitors and locals can partake a selection of delectable local dishes from food stalls installed for the festival.
Mutya sa Palawan
Mutya sa Palawan (Miss Palawan) is a beauty pageant. Candidates are representatives of any localitiesand can speak at least one of several dialects of the province. Winner gets the ultimate title and other titles in contention are Mutya ng Palawan Tourism, Mutya ng Palawan North, Mutya ng Palawan South, and Mutya ng Palawan 1st runner-up.
How to reach Palawan
Book a flight to Puerto Princesa Airport. One can also take a ferry from Metro Manila.
- Formoso, Celeste Anna. Palawan festival showcases enjoyable Bonsai art. Philippine News Agency. June 16, 2018. Retrieved September 26, 2022
- Republic Act No. 9748. Official Gazette. Retrieved September 26, 2022
- Magdayao, Aira Genesa. “Best Baragatan Ever” officially opens today. Palawan News. June 17, 2022. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- Magdayao, Aira Genesa. Palawan all set for this year’s 3-week Baragatan Festival. Palawan News. June 1, 2022. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- History. Provincial Government of Palawan. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- Palawan. Britannica. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- Act No. 422, June 23, 1902. Supreme Court of the Philippines E-Library. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- Act No. 1363, June 28, 1905. Supreme Court of the Philippines E-Library. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- Rocamora, Joyce Ann L. ‘Baragatan’ in Palawan: Rising from ‘Odette’, pandemic. Philippine News Agency. July 5, 2022. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- Palaweños gear up for Baragatan Festival. The Philippine Star. June 8, 2003. Retrieved September 27, 2022
- P100k cash prize awaits Mutya ng Palawan 2022 winner. Palawan News. May 25, 2022. Retrieved September 27, 2022