Zamboanga Sibugay

Sibug-Sibug Festival

Sibug-Sibug Festival is a cultural festival and founding anniversary in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay, Philippines every February 24. It also coincides with the Festival of Lights. A week-long fest, activities take place in Ipil, the capital of the province.

History of Sibug-Sibug Festival

Sibug-Sibug Festival comes from the name of the river Sibuguey, from which the name of the province is also derived. During February 2004 celebration, organizers attempted to break the Guinness World Record of the longest oyster grill. Participants built a kilometer-long grill station. In 2007, the feat was attempted once again involving 11,000 kilos of oysters, 300 sacks of charcoal, and 4, 278 grillers. Oysters produced by the province could grow up to a foot long, and the town of Kabasalan was famed for the “delicious, juiciest, meatiest and biggest” variety. Zamboanga Sibugay is touted as the oyster capital of the Philippines.

In 2012, the festival was moved from February to June 25 to July 1 and renamed Sibugsay sa Sibugay Festival. Its name was a portmanteau of sibug, which means to move forward, and bugsay, which translates to paddle; taken together its meaning is to move forward as one. In 2013, it was moved back to February and rebranded Sibugsay Festival, a week-long celebration. In that year, it included the Sibug-Sibug Festival on February 26 that was marked with ethnic rituals and performance that portrayed harvest, wedding, and healing. By 2014, the original festival name was restored.

History of Festival of Lights

Sibug-Sibug Festival also coincides with Festival of Lights which was first launched in 2017. Its schedule starts in November all the way to founding anniversary celebration in February next year. Organized to usher the Christmas season and encourage tourism, it is a competition participated by the constituent local government units that put up theme parks with specific theme.

History of Zamboanga Sibugay

Zamboanga Sibugay is part of Zamboanga peninsula, which is also designated as Region 9. It shares borders with Zamboanga City in the south, Zamboanga del Norte in the north, Zamboanga del Sur in the East, and Busan Bay in the south. It first entered into historical account in 1667 when a village was mentioned that was located along the river Sibuguey.

In the past it used to belong to the historical province of Zamboanga. On June 6, 1952, Republic Act No. 711 was signed by Diosdado Mapacapagal that divided Zamboanga into Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur. A clamor to further divide the latter province existed in the years that followed such as the one led by representative Vicenzo Sagun to the time of Belma Cabilao. In 1993, Zamboanga Occidental Movement was formed by Jose Cabaral Tiu, and the push for political reorganization of then third district of Zamboanga gained urgency.

In May 1997, the result of a people’s initiative that coincided with the barangay election was in favor of a separate province. Later, representative George T. Hofer authored House Bill No. 1311 that sought to create a new province carved from Zamboanga del Sur. Then, Republic Act No. 8973 was approved by Joseph Estrada on November 7, 2000 that created Zamboanga Sibugay. On February the next year, a plebiscite was held and the law was ratified on February 24, 2001. This is the date that Sibug-Sibug Festival commemorates, and it is often declared as a special non-working holiday.

Sibug-Sibug Festival Activities

One of the main highlights of Sibug-Sibug Festival is the trade fair. Other events include sports (darts, motocross, bike, basketball, volleyball, table tennis), zumba, fireworks display, competitions (cheer dance, drum and lyre, talent), parade, cultural shows, mardi gras showdown, street dance, music festival, talent contests, job fair, beauty pageant such as the prestigious Binibining Sibugay, Tourism Queen, Festival Queen, etc. The foundation day on February 24th is marked with Araw ng Zamboanga Sibugay ceremonies.

How to reach Zamboanga Sibugay

Book a flight to Zamboanga International Airport and take a bus to Zamboanga Sibugay, which is about 100 kilometers away and would take three hours more or less.


Sibug-Sibug Festival Summary

NameSibug-Sibug Festival
CelebrationChristmas, Culture, Founding, Light
Duration1 week
LocationZamboanga Sibugay
Previous NameSibugsay sa Sibugay Festival
Simultaneous eventFestival of Lights