Panagyaman Rice Festival is conducted the entire month of April. Its name comes from the word panagyaman, an Ilocano word that means thanksgiving. It is the very first national festival when it was established in 2004 and it is considered the national celebration of successful rice harvest according to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. A previous celebration was called Rice Festival Week observed every last week of April.
Rice and Filipino culture
The history of rice in the Philippines goes back thousands of years ago. (See National Awareness Month for a fuller discussion.) In precolonial times, it was a not staple food and Filipinos subsisted on crops such as yam and millet. It was not easy to cultivate and its availability was scarce that it was exclusively served for the wealthy and elite families.
Rituals, taboos, and practices sprang up and were observed before and during planting of rice seeds or seedlings all the way up to harvesting and preparing the soil for the next planting season. These propitiatory rituals were done to appease and gain the favor of the spirits that reside in the fields and rice stalks. Failure to perform them or inadequate compliance could court their displeasure and invite bad luck in the farms.
During Spanish colonial rule, the belief in spirits, taboos, and rites that were believed to be endowed with magic that helped control the variables in the cultivation of rice and lead to successful harvest were abandoned, transformed, or infused with Christian practices. The Spaniards also introduced plow technology to the country and improvement in irrigation system that increased rice production such that it had become a commodity. Over time, Filipinos regard it so vital that food cannot be called a meal without it.
Despite introduction of farming technologies, hybrid rice varieties, government programs to increase yields, and its importation that maintain sufficient supply in the market, rice remains to be regarded not only as a crop that is nourishing but also a food item that is sacred. Such a belief in some ways persists up to the present day. Rice is perceived as the fruit of God’s blessing and the hard work of farmers.
Households involved in its production perform a blend of animism, magic, and Catholic prayers. Wasting food, such as spilling from one’s plate and table, is frowned upon. When it is about to be served, Filipinos use the scoop to make a sign of the cross on the surface of the bed of fragrant, freshly cooked rice. One is also forbidden from stepping or sitting on sacks of rice.
Dishes such as labor-intensive and elaborate recipes like rice cakes continue to have symbolic roles in community celebrations like fiestas and social gatherings such as weddings. For instance, newly wed couples are encouraged to consume recipes made from sticky glutinous rice so that their union will become as “sticky”.
Rice festivals in the Philippines
In the Philippines, rice is one of the primary agricultural crops and remains the country’s staple food even with the availability of other options such as bread, noodles, and root crops. It is consumed in every meal. Its preparation can range from a simple unseasoned dish (water and rice in a pot over medium or high heat to bring it to boil, at which point the heat is lowered until it is cooked). Its bland taste profile is a perfect match with viands of soups, stews, seafood, meat, and vegetables.
It can be made into more aromatic variants with the use of leaves, bamboo, coconut, seasoning, etc. Moreover, it can be prepared into desserts, delicacies, alcoholic beverages, and colorful ornamentation such as in the annual Pahiyas Festival of Quezon. As such, it plays a pivotal role in shaping Filipino culture, cuisine, and celebrations.
Ramon Magsaysay issued Proclamation No. 279 on March 24, 1956 that declared the last week of April as Rice Festival Week. The decree’s aim was to shed light on the national effort for food security through adequate production of rice in the country.
Then on April 19, 2004, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 606 that declared April as the Panagyaman Rice Festival. It acknowledged that summer is the time for harvest festivals, the cultural significance of rice, the success in the introduction of hybrid rice, and the role of farmers in the progress towards a hunger-free nation. The United Nations likewise declared 2004 as the International Year of Rice.
Panagyaman Rice Festival used to coincide with the founding anniversary of the province of Nueva Vizcaya until it was changed to Grand Ammungan Festival in 2009. Presently, it is held in the towns of Pura in Tarlac and Maddela in Quirino.
Here is a list of rice festivals in the Philippines.
|Agawan Festival||Sariaya, Quezon||May 15|
|Ana Kalang Festival||Nagcarlan, Laguna||Third Wednesday of April|
|Bakle Festival||Kiangan, Ifugao||August|
|Binallay Festival||Ilagan City, Isabela||May 30|
|Binungey Festival||Anda, Pangasinan||April 17|
|Cagayan Valley Farm Progress Show: Rice Festival||Cagayan Valley Region||April|
|Carabao-Carroza Festival||Pavia, Iloilo||May 3|
|Dikit Festival||Aurora, Isabela||April 30|
|Imbayah Festival||Banaue, Ifugao||April|
|Himorasak Festival||Matag-ob, Leyte||September|
|Kahumayan Festival||Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte||December 2|
|Kakanin Festival||San Jose del Monte, Bulacan||September|
|Kakanin Festival||San Mateo, Rizal||September 9|
|Kamgbegu Festival||Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur||October|
|Libon Paroy Festival||Libon, Albay||July|
|Mayohan Festival||Tayabas, Quezon||May|
|National Rice Awareness Month||Philippines||November|
|Pagay Festival||Alicia, Isabela||September 28|
|Pahiyas Festival||Lucban, Quezon||May 15|
|Panagyaman Festival||Pura, Tarlac||March|
|Panagyaman Festival||Madela, Quirino||April|
|Panggayjaya Festival||Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya||April|
|Paray Festival||Irosin, Sorsogon||September|
|Parayan Festival||San Roque, Northern Samar||March 16|
|Pasalamat Festival||Carlota City, Negros Occidental||April|
|Pinilisa Festival||Jones, Isabela||March 17|
|Pipigan Festival||Muzon, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan||December 22|
|Rice Festival||Braulio E. Dujali, Davao del Norte||October|
|Rice Harvest Festival||Mamasapano, Maguindanao||September|
|Saludan Festival||Tigbauan, Iloilo||March / October|
|Sinabalu Festival||Rizal, Cagayan||October|
|Sinanggiyaw Festival||Dumanjug, Cebu||October 4|
|Suman Festival||Baler, Aurora||February|
- Proclamation No. 279, s. 1956. Official Gazette. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Proclamation No. 606, s. 2004. Official Gazette. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Manila Bulletin. The panagyaman rice festival month. Yahoo! News. April 6, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Manila Bulletin. Editorial: The Panagyaman Rice Festival Month. Yahoo! News. April 1, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Panagyaman Rice Festival. Manila Bulletin through PressReader. April 1, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Roces, Alejandro R. Rice festivals. The Philippine Star. April 5, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Saiden, Albashir. Harvest festival showcases hybrid rice production technology. Philippine News Agency. June 28, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Calendar of Philippine Festivals and Monthly Observances / Theme. Tourism Promotions Board Philippines. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- The importance of Rice to Filipinos’ lives. National Nutrition Council. November 27, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Pierson, David. In the Philippines, where ‘rice is life,’ a move to allow more imports signals change. Los Angeles Times. February 14, 2019. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Aguilar, F. V. (2013). Rice and Magic A Cultural History from the Precolonial World to the Present. Philippine Studies: Historical & Ethnographic Viewpoints, 61(3), 297–330. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Gonzalez, Mariel C. A Historical and Analytical Perspective on Rice and its Significance within Filipino Culture. Re: Locations – University of Toronto. July 2, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- UN declares 2004 the International Year of Rice. UN News. October 31, 2003. Retrieved September 25, 2022
- Monthly Observances and Significant Dates. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved September 27, 2022