Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pulilan Kneeling Carabao Festival 2013

Pulilan, BULACAN
Date: MAY 14, 2013

This is my hometown: a small thriving municipality 45 kilometers north of Manila. Once every year, a lively celebration takes place, honoring the Philippine national animal which symbolizes strength and industriousness – the carabao. This year, I will be bringing my high school buddies to my hometown and let them witness the colorful Festival of the Kneeling Carabaos.

San Isidro Labrador Church
Today is the day that the whole town of Pulilan is waiting for – the Kneeling Carabao festival will start in 9 hours. I woke up early in the morning, at around 5 AM, to get myself ready for the event. I have to leave early because I will be picking up my high school buddies at SM North EDSA, in Quezon City.

I managed to get to SM North EDSA at around 6 AM, and I saw my friends sitting at a nearby café, waiting for me. I walked towards them and told them that we have to leave early because the municipal road will be closed for the festival. We hopped onto a Baliuag Transit bus, at around 7:00 AM, and we reached my hometown at approximately 9:00 AM (it was traffic at that time because of the festival and the bridge that was undergoing maintenance).

And then, the worst case scenario started to happen. We went into the jeepney terminal in front of Robinson’s Pulilan, but there were no jeepneys to ride on. The drivers said that they wouldn’t be able to take people for the meantime because the road was already closed.

The tourists
We don’t have any choice. We have to get to my house before the parade starts, so we hopped onto this tricycle, but the traffic was horrendous. We had to go down the tricycle because the traffic is no longer moving. We had to walk. The distance from the public market to my house is approximately 3.5 kilometers, and we started walking under the scorching heat of the sun.

There were no vehicles along the highway, but we managed to see carabaos pulling up their carts, being guided by their trainers and farmers. We passed through the town plaza, and we saw the crowds who were patiently waiting for the parade to start.

After hours of walking, we finally reached our destination. My high school buddies and I were very tired. Soon after, my mom called us and invited us to take our lunch. The food was festive, and they looked delicious, so we sat around the dining table and started to eat. Seriously, that was one of the best lunches I ever had!

From left to right: Me, Rikki, Rose, Mark, Shen, Mom, Anne, Prince
It was already 1:00 PM, and in less than an hour, the parade will start. We saw the marching bands coming in, along with some of the floats and carts that will be joining too. I invited my friends to go near the town proper because it was the best place to watch the parade.

One of the marching bands
The parade started with the mayor and the vice mayor welcoming the spectators and tourists who visited the town for the annual festival. And then, they began to march. The bands started to play festive tunes, while street performers with colorful costumes started to dance. School bands and tribal performers dominated the streets, and festive music can be heard everywhere.

And then, colorful floats started to pass by – being pulled by carabaos with vibrant body paint. There were also celebrities who joined the parade, and some local businesses were giving away freebies to those who were watching.

The parade lasted for about an hour, with thousands of carabaos joining the festivity. Some had decorative patterns painted around their body, some wore traditional costumes, but those who had their knees protected were the ones who caught the crowds’ attention. They knelt down and started to move. You can also hear the people chanting “Luhod! Luhod!”, and as a response, the carabaos would kneel, giving the crowd a chance to take some photos or videos.
Carabaos kneeling down
My high school buddies told me that they had fun, so we decided to go home and eat the merienda that my mom cooked for us. We rested for a while after eating a lot of food.

Happy family! :)
Dusk came, and my friends told me that they need to go home. I accompanied them to the public market where buses that are going back to Manila pass by, but this time, it’s different. Because of the festival, the buses were full, and there’s no chance for them to sit, so I told them that we could go straight to the terminal, which is located on the next town.

We went to Baliuag, and they managed to catch a bus going back to Manila and left at 7:00 PM. They thanked me for the wonderful experience, and I told them that they could go back anytime they want. This was the first ever out of town that my high school buddies and I had, and we are hoping for more out of town trips in the future.

Gerald Anderson, Julia Montes and Valerie Concepcion in the house
Rikki's new found friend
Lots of carabaos joining the parade

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