Ilang Ilang Festival

Ilang Ilang Festival, also spelled Ylang-Ylang Festival, is the yearly festival of the flower called ilang-ilang and founding anniversary in the municipality of Anao in the province of Tarlac, Philippines.

It is held every March 16, which is declared as Araw ng Anao and a special non-working holiday in the town. It is the biggest festival in Anao and participated by component barangay units.

History of Ilang Ilang Festival

Ilang Ilang Festival was launched in 2006. Its schedule coincides with Araw ng Anao (Anao Day) every March 16th, which is the founding date of the town and was declared a special non-working holiday by virtue of Municipal Ordinance No. 2014-158 that was approved on February 27, 2014.

It also adopted Awit ng Anao (Anao Song) as the official hymn of the town in 2000 and as amended through the passage of Municipal Ordinance No. 2003-092 approved on May 21, 2003. Its lyrics was written by Avelina Conde-Ramos and music by Romeo L. Ramiterre.

What is ilang-ilang?

Ilang-ilang or ylang-ylang (scientific name Cananga odorata) is a sweet-scented flowering plant found in South Asia. Its name translates to “flower of flowers.”

Considered a perfume tree, the plant can reach up to twenty (20) meters and its flower is six-lobed with stooping, long stalks. While it blooms all year round, summertime in the Philippines is regarded the best time for harvest and the townsfolk picked the blooms early in the morning.

The town of Anao is called the ilang-ilang capital of Tarlac and the largest producer of its extract in the Philippines. The industry, which has become a source of livelihood among its people, began in 1989 when trees were planted and the local government unit provided lots for planting and sought technical assistance from other organizations. In 2009, it was reported that the entire town had 10,000 flower-bearing trees.

The extract from the flower is made into a variety of products such as those that are used in aromatherapy, essential oil, perfume, candle, soap, massage oil, facial mist, anti-mosquito spray, muscle relief spray, reed diffuser, car freshener, facial floral mist, potpourri, fabric conditioner, and massage oil. It is reportedly one of the raw materials in the production of popular scents such as Chanel No. 5, Coco Mademoiselle, and L’Air du Temps.

Ilang-ilang seeds from Anao were brought to Saranggani and planted in front of the provincial capitol complex by then Vice Governor Bridget Chiongbian-Huang in 2005.

In addition, seeds from the town were procured to start a plantation in three villages (Aguilar, Bugallon, Mangatarem) of Pangasinan, a project that began by chemist-entreprenuer Fred Reyes and Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil in coordination with the national greening project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2015.

History of Anao, Tarlac

Ilang-Ilang Festival is also a celebration of the founding of this landlocked town which is considered the smallest in terms of land area in the province. It is located over thirty (30) kilometers from the capital city of Tarlac.

It was formerly part of Pangasinan, but over time when the neighboring of Paniqui grew and a connecting road was built it was annexed to Tarlac. In the past, it was a hinterland filled with thick vegetation, forest, and balete trees.

Early inhabitants moved to the town attracted by its fertile lands and natural resources. They were mostly migrants from Ilocos Norte, and they made their homes along bodies of water such as rivers and brooks. In addition, they cleared the lands for farming and domestication.

The town was established on March 16, 1870, the date with which the fest commemorates in an annual observance. When the Philippine revolution broke out towards the end of Spanish colonization, Anao became part of Paniqui once again. It was not until 1899 when it was made an independent municipality for the second time.

Ilang Ilang Festival Activities

Ilang Ilang Festival has a grand street dance competition where participants wear attire made from indigenous materials and they perform to the tune of the hymn of the town. In addition, it is also created as a platform in promoting ilang-ilang and its various by-products, so stalls and demonstration are put up that illustrate the process of extraction of its essence and production of derivative products. Moreover, the fest also has a trade fair where each barangay can put on display their fruits, vegetables, and other local products.

How to reach Anao, Tarlac

One can travel by bus in Manila or Cubao to the province of Tarlac, which will take about two to three hours. Alternatively, you can book a flight to Clark International Airport which is the nearest airport and travel by bus to reach the province.


Ilang Ilang Festival Summary

NameIlang Ilang Festival
CelebrationFounding Anniversary, Flower
Contact(045) 606-0590
DateMarch 16
Duration1 week
LocationAnao, Tarlac
Other NamesYlang-Ylang Festival
Simultaneous eventAraw ng Anao