Pulilan Carabao Festival in Bulacan

Honoring a saint is one of the principal reasons why Filipinos celebrate numerous fiestas. This is the reason why the people in Pulilan, Bulacan never fail to commemorate and pay tribute to San Isidro Labrador, who is the patron saint for farmers. Although the festival officially begins on May 15 every year, there are traditions which the locals need to observe prior to this day. For 24 days, they must perform the Paseo or the procession of the image of San Isidro to the different towns comprising Bulacan. They ought to complete the Novena for nine consecutive days.

Based on historical records, many years ago, individuals are identified not by their given surnames but by the work, they perform. Such is the case of San Isidro, whose occupation was that of a Labrador or a laborer. He was a hired hand in a farm and had no personal land to till. His landlord was amazed that San Isidro was capable of completing his assigned task despite his coming late to work most of the time. Prompted by his curiosity, the landlord investigated and saw that the person plowing the field was an angel. In awe, he knelt before San Isidro. This image of a kneeling man is often associated with this patron saint.

Carabaos play a vital role during this occasion. They are the creatures responsible in assisting the farmers in doing their jobs. One of the most astonishing sights to see during the celebration of this festival happens in the morning of May 14. The carabaos are thoroughly cleaned and prepared for the parade. During the march, the carabaos are trained by their owners to kneel in front of the church as they pass it one by one. A priest is there to bless each one of the creatures as they pay homage to their patron saint. On the 15th, carabao races are held as part of the festivity.

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