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Ibalong Festival 2017 and More Heroic Adventures

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August is a great time to visit Legazpi City, Albay in Bicol Region for their upcoming Ibalong Festival 2017! This is a non-religious festival that tells the story of Bicol’s early beginning based on the Ibalong Epic. This festival was first celebrated in 1992 and has since been a yearly festival. It is a good place for foreigners to experience the rich, colourful and vibrant culture of the people of Legazpi City.





Ibalong Festival is unique in the sense that the whole festival is based on an epic tale. Set in the ancient times, the story features the adventures of three mythical heroes and their saga as they tried to maintain peace in the town of Ibalong. The three heroes are Baltog, Handyong and Bantong. To protect the town, they fought supernatural creatures like the tandayag (giant boar), dambuhala (one-eyed monster), oryol (a lady with a body of a serpent), and a giant named Rabot. When you attend the Ibalong Festival in Legazpi City, expect to find these magical imageries in street parades or theatrical shows.


What To Expect

The festivities and activities last for almost the whole month of August. The main event are the street parades and choreographed dances. The Ibalong Festival brings to life the story of the three ancient heroes. Participants of the parade wear colourful and creative costumes to portray the unique characters of the story and the heroes’ amazing feats as warriors. The festival is notable for its intense creativity through theatre shows. As you watch these presentations, keep in mind that the story of Ibalong is more than about a fantastic adventure. It is also about enduring Filipino values rooted on patriotism and fighting for a future without slavery. The story is also set in the ancient times (pre-Spanish era) which is an important period notable for the inventions of tools used in farming, weaving and writing. The festival is both entertaining and educational. Beyond costumes and make-believe, this festival is a reflection of the legendary battles between good and evil which is an integral part of Bicol Region’s history and culture.    


A great literary piece that reflects the life of our ancestors…this is an effective formula in creating a wonderful festival that highlights theatre arts, dance, music and history in a unique social gathering. The festival also aims to express a warm welcome and friendship to all visitors of the province during this time of the year.




There are also other local activities in this celebration that the whole family can enjoy. Other than parades, and street dancing competition, there will also be a beauty pageant (“Mutya ng Ibalong” pageant), car racing, street parties, band concerts, flea markets, festive food, fireworks display and more. Additionally, during the Ibalong Festival, the Mt. Mayon Triathlon Asian Cup will be held. This is scheduled on 12-13 August 2017.


(For more information about the triathlon, please visit:


Video: Mt. Mayon Triathlon 2016 recap


With the beautiful Mayon Volcano on site, this festival is truly a memorable event for all. Many visitors return each year for this festival and nature trail triathlon.


Ibalong Festival

Festival Schedule:
3-30 August 2017

(Detailed schedule: to be confirmed)
For enquiries about the festival and activities:
Legazpi City, Albay – Region V Government
Ibalong Festival Facebook page:
For details on how to get to Legazpi City from Manila, and where to stay:




The Book ~ The Heart of The Festival

If you want to dig deep into the origin of this festival, the Ibalong Festival has interesting roots. The story of Ibalong is from the 60-stanza epic poem that was transcribed by a Franciscan friar based on the tales sung by a local bard named Kadunung. [1]  It is known that the original Spanish manuscripts are now missing, but it is possible that some parts were kept and copied by Fray Jose Castaño. These were later compiled by Wenceslao Retana who added them in the book “Archivo del Bibliofilo Filipino” in 1895. A famous Filipino essayist named Jose Ma. Panganiban gave this story the title “Ibalong” since the original manuscript had no title. In Philippine history, Panganiban is a prominent figure. He was one of the main writers of the newspaper “La Solidaridad” (The Solidarity), a broadsheet newspaper published by an organisation of the same name. This was released in 1888 in Spain during the time when Philippine revolution against Spain was brewing. Panganiban used the pen name Jomapa to stay incognito for an effective propaganda. Philippine National hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was among the editors of the newspaper.



Tanghalang Pilipino presents IBALONG (2013, Cultural Center of the Philippines) “Ibalong” tells the story of a league of warriors, led by Handyong, who arrive in Bicol (formerly Ibalon), where these men face vicious attacks from beasts and monsters — a cyclops, winged sharks, wild carabaos, and snakes. (Photo by: Cultural Center of the Philippines)



Author: Marcelle Villegas
Photo source:

  1.   “25 Years of Ibalong Festival” by Chit Tribiana, for Travel Plus magazine (Sept. 2016)


  1. Ibalong story on local theater –

Additional reference:






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