Surigao del Norte

Bonok-Bonok Festival

Bonok-Bonok Festival, also known as Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival, is the yearly cultural and religious festival and charter day celebration in Surigao City, the capital of the province of Surigao del Norte, Philippines held in honor St. Nicholas of Tolentino every September 10.

It is one of the biggest festival in CARAGA, a region in northeastern Mindanao that also includes the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao del Sur.

History of Bonok-Bonok Festival

Bonok-Bonok Festival started in 1984 in the aftermath of typhoon named Nitang. It was organized and conducted as a way to give thanks for the resilience and revival of the city amidst the damages wrought by the typhoon. Its name comes from the word bonok which literally means downpour, and it is symbolic of the blessings received from the Creator. Thus, its repetition bonok-bonok means plenty of and continuous blessing.

The fest is also called Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival; maradjaw karadjaw (also spelled karadjao) translates to very good. The complete rough translation then becomes “Rain, all the very best.”

It is said that the fest originates from pre-Hispanic practice among indigenous peoples Mamanwa and Manobo who performed dance rituals for the rains to come.

The celebration is likewise held in veneration and for the feast of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, better known locally as San Nicolas de Tolentino, the patron saint of Surigao and of San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral, the ecclesiastical seat of the Diocese of Surigao.

In the past, it was a church established by the Augustinian Recollect friars in 1754 after their mission station in Siargao was attacked and burned by Moro raiders four years earlier.

When the Recollects left, the Jesuits were responsible of the parish and then the Missionaries of Sacred Heart (MSC) took over in 1908. In 1939 Surigao became a diocese and in 1988, the cathedral was handed over to the secular clergy.

Bonok-Bonok Festival was not held in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 threats. It was re-staged in 2022.

Charter Day of Surigao City

Additionally, the fest also remembers the Charter Day of Surigao City through Republic Act No. 6134, otherwise known as An Act Creating the City of Surigao, that was approved on August 31, 1970. Amendments were introduced to the said law by Republic Act No. 6402 that expanded the city to include the villages of Punta Bilar, Ipil, Mabua. And through Proclamation No. 1802 that was approved on November 9, 1978, every August 31st is declared as special public holiday in the city.

The city, previously called Caraga after the name of its people, had been populated long before the onset of Spanish conquest. Its coastal areas were villages where fisher folks inhabited, while inland distinct ethnic groups such as the Mamanwas lived. The present location of the city used to be referred to as Bilang-bilang, and it was a center of trade in that portion of Mindanao.

Surigao was established as a town on June 29, 1655. When Siargao was attacked by sea pirates and destroyed, the Spanish authorities transferred the provincial government to Surigao in 1751.

By May 15, 1901, it was established as Distrito de Surigao and became a chartered province by virtue of Philippine Commission Act No. 127. However, part of its territory ceded and became the province of Agusan through Act No. 1693 on August 20, 1907.

Then on June 19, 1960, Surigao was split into Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur by virtue of Republic Act 2786. On the other hand, Surigao City

Bonok-Bonok Festival Religious Activities

The religious activities of Bonok-Bonok Festival take up to ten days and start with the nine-day novena and mass. Its schedule begins in the first of September all the way to the 9th, when the novena (and novena-mass) concludes. On September 10, an activity called diana is held early in the morning where people are awakened from their sleep to greet the feast day. A pontifical mass is also heard.

Bonok-Bonok Festival Secular Activities

Organized by the city government of Surigao, the secular activities of Bonok-Bonok Festival may last longer than the religious festival calendar. The Charter Day commemoration occurs on the last day of August which includes opening program, parade, etc. Moreover, there are musical shows, art exhibits, street dance, dance showdown, cooking show, photo contests, dance competition, public services, cook fest, trade fair called Tiyanggihan sa Boulevard, daily entertainments sponsored by various institutions, sports, online gaming competitions, motor show, etc.

The dance activities actually commence after the purification rite that is observed among Mamanwas. It uses incense to ensure that evil spirits do not linger. Performers wear colorful attire, accessories (such as the tubao scarf, bracelets and anklets), and dance to the tune of various brass and percussive instruments. Cultural dance showdown includes the bonok-bonok category and the free interpretation category. Major prizes are given away, including minor prizes of best in choreography, best in street dancing, and best in costume.

Search for Rayna Nan Bonok-Bonok

Search for Rayna Nan Bonok-Bonok is the beauty pageant of the festival. It used to be called Mutya ng Surigao.

How to reach Surigao City

The most convenient is to take a flight from Manila bound for Surigao Airport. Ferry schedules are also available from various points of Visayas and Mindanao. Within Mindanao, one take bus trips to the city.


Bonok-Bonok Festival Summary

NameBonok-Bonok Festival
CelebrationCulture, Indigenous People, Religion
ChurchSan Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral
Contact(086) 826-3434, (086) 826-3846
DateSeptember 10
Duration10 days,
LocationSurigao City, Surigao del Norte
OrganizerDiocese of Surigao, City Government of Surigao
Other NamesBonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival
PatronSt. Nicholas de Tolentino
ReligionRoman Catholic