© Uj Almocera
Oysters and street-dancing might seem like an unlikely combination, but they go together well in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Sibug-Sibug Festival. Head down south to be part of this two-week celebration, which reaches its peak on February 26, the day the province was founded.
You might be surprised to find out that Zamboanga Sibugay is technically a millennial (and it could be younger than you)! It was declared a separate province from Zamboanga del Sur back in 2001. But just because it’s young doesn’t mean it hasn’t made its mark yet–it’s the rubber capital of the country, it won the Guinness World Records (more on that later), and it has an overwhelming number of lovely beaches and other nature haunts.
The Sibug-Sibug Festival is unabashedly colorful and loud, and visitors have described being awed by the performances. Here’s what you can look forward to when you join in:
Witness large-scale street dancing
© Ulysses John Almocera
Sure, it’s easy to get hooked on dance competition episodes, but the experience of being there in the flesh, right in front of the performers, is different altogether. Huge street dance delegations are a staple in the festival, usually representing different parts of the province–and to make it even more glorious, they’re decked in bright, eye-catching costumes, their choreography the result of months of preparation. Each dance is different from the last, although a common theme is the tribal-sounding, rhythm-heavy melody that recalls tradition and heritage.
Watch a Subanen cultural show
© Ab Aviation Tourism
The Subanen are said to be the first people in Zamboanga, having settled down there more than 2,000 years ago. Curiously, their name comes from the Visayan word for river (“suba”), since they lived near rivers–and rowing a boat, as the scene depicts, must have been very common. The cultural show is performed by dancers in native Subanen dress, enacting age-old rites for birth, marriage, and war. Like the street dances, music plays a major part in setting the mood, and offerings are weaved in as well, with the harvests of the land offered to the gods amidst a thick veil of incense.
Delight in luscious, freshly grilled oysters
Celebrations wouldn’t be complete without food–and Zamboanga Sibugay bears the grand honor of breaking the world record for having the longest oyster grill at 1.2 km in length (with a capacity of 15,000 oysters!). This is usually a major attraction in the festival. Not only can you gorge on an amazing amount of oysters, rest assured that these oysters are also culinary delights in their own right: juicy, delicious, and immense, growing up to 12 inches long. If you’re going to indulge, then Zamboanga Sibugay is the right place–it supplies oysters to several other Asian countries, and has likely perfected the art more than anywhere else in the country.
Plot an adventure through beaches, mountains, and waterfalls
© Probinsyano Wanderer
The Sibug-Sibug Festival is, in a sense, Zamboanga Sibugay’s birthday party. Because you’re there anyway, why not get to know your host better and explore? Most of its territory is coastal, so first off, you can bring on the flip-flops for white-sand beaches such as Buluan Island and Sibuguey Bay. If you don’t fancy being sun-kissed, head over to its numerous waterfalls instead, from Tigpalay Falls to Baluran Falls, and enjoy the cool waters. There’s something here for everyone–non-water babies can trek to Mount Kipit, or hunt for the human face carved into the walls of Moalboal Cave.
With all these attractions to try out, you won’t have any problems filling up your itinerary for the Sibug-Sibug Festival. For your convenience, we’ve also added other festivals happening this month below, taken from our full list of 2018 festivals. Whichever you’re attending, expect the common denominator of most festivals–plenty of dancing and costumes, and irrepressible exuberance!
- Kariyala Festival (Feb. 22-23)
- The Kariraya Festival is a celebration of bountiful harvest and the distictive cultures and heritage of the various ehtnic tribes and Communities in Wao, Lanao del Sur.
- Sibug-Sibug Festival (Feb. 26)
- This celebration is also the anniversary of the foundation of the province. The two-week festivity features colorful street dancing with ethnic themes, including the ritual that shows of good harvest, wedding ceremony, and healing rituals.
- Makati’s Caracol Festival (Feb. 26)
- Caracol Festival is the city’s unique version of Mardi Gras according to Ex-Mayor Jejomar Binay. The annual celebration continues the commitment of preserving Makati’s cultural heritage and promoting the importance of conserving the environment.