BAMBANTI, stick figures or busts hoisted or raised out in the fields to fend off birds, pests, and other threats to their growing rice and corn plants. Often dressed in scary tatters and colourful hand-me-downs, the Bambanti exhibits the best about Isabela: its imposing beginnings, intense growth, and imminent dazzling future.
The BAMBANTI, first conceived to fire the premier Isabela Festival torch in 1997 by former Governor Benjamin G. Dy and his wife Cecil, is a stately symbol for the Isabela farmer’s diligence and resoluteness to earn his keep, feed his family and produce for his community. It is a reminder of his enduring spirit – the kind that is relentless amid the harshness of storms that often visit his province – and his creativity in his untiring vigilance to safeguard his treasure and the bigger promises attached to it. For Isabela, the Bambanti’s towering presence is the reminder of the key that propelled Isabelans to self-sufficiency and national economic prominence.
“Bambanti” is the Ilocano word for scarecrow. Though scary, Bambanti has been the sentinel or guardian of the fields which farmers attributed their good harvest of rice and corn, the prime agricultural product of Isabela. The Scarecrow, in the pervading pop culture, is often perceived as unusual, frightening, and an object of curiosity. In reality however, the Scarecrow remains a beneficial component of the agricultural sector. Faithfully serving as the guardian of the crops, its unwavering presence witnesses the stages of growth and generous yield that sustains the livelihood for the agricultural community. Standing tall and proud, the Scarecrow personifies the agricultural heritage of Isabela as it continues being the farmer’s ally in producing rice and corn, the region’s main products.
Bambanti Festival is the mother of all festivals in the province of Isabela. The festival opens with merrymaking such as street dancing and float parade. Participants are dressed up in ornate costumes and body paints and gyrating to the sounds of drums, gongs, and other musical instruments displaying the rich cultural legacy and artistry of a true blooded Isabelino. During the festival, tourist and the locales will get a chance to see trade fairs, exhibits, taste of Isabela’s cuisine, arts and crafts and other cultural activities.
Bambanti Festival is a tribute for the bountiful yield and spell an encompassing development on tourism, trade, investment and environment, focusing on the marketing and promotion of the province of Isabela - it’s community life, history and heritage, various indigenous world-class products, lifestyle merchandise items and cuisine.