Ilagan City iconifies corn farming and Celebrates local Culture in Mammangi Festival

Roel Hoang Manipon
Fireworks lit up the sky capping the Mammangi Festival Street Dance and Showdown program.
Fireworks lit up the sky capping the Mammangi Festival Street Dance and Showdown program.
Steamed corn being sold by the roadside.
Steamed corn being sold by the roadside.

Binibining Ilagan 2024

Beauty pageants have been a fixture in Philippine festivities. The grand coronation night of Binibining Ilagan 2024 was held on 6 May at the City of Ilagan Sports Complex, where 20 candidates vied for the crown. Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo and model Than Perez served as hosts with actor Alden Richards making an appearance as guest artist.

Johnlene Ariola from the barangay of Alibagu won the Binibining Ilagan 2024 title. Binibining Ilagan 2023 Kristine Joy Guzman, who recently won Queen Isabela 2024, passed on the crown to the Financial Management graduate of Isabela State University Cauayan.

Meanwhile, Clare Arce, also from Alibagu, was declared Binibining Ilagan Turismo, Sining at Kultura and Lalaine Bulan from the barangay of Bangag, Binibining Ilagan Agrikultura. Completing the court are first runner-up Justine Molly Asis from the barangay of Alinguigan and second runner-up Valerie Ann May delos Santos from the barangay of Sindon Bayabo.

Barangay night

Officials of Ilagan’s different barangays and guests gathered together for a night of celebration and recognitions on 7 May at the City of Ilagan Community Center.

Winners of the Most Outstanding and Improved Barangays Awards were unveiled. They were Lullutan for disaster preparedness, Osmeña for financial management, Bliss Village for environmental management and sanitation, Calamangui 1st for sustainable education, Cabisera 3 for social protection, Santa Isabel Sur for youth development, Alinguigan 2nd for health compliance and responsiveness, Cabisera 10 for tourism development, Baligatan for business friendliness and competitiveness, and Alibagu for safety, peace and order.

The event also included the Inter-Cluster Cultural Dance Contest and entertainment featuring comedians Allan K and Wally Bayola.

Street dance and showdown competitions

The street dancing contest and showdown are always the exhilarating highlight of almost all modern festivals in the Philippines and this is true for Mammangi Festival. Officials, participants, supporters, spectators and visitors converged at the City of Ilagan Sports Complex on 9 May to be enthralled by costumes and movements of the eight contingents composed of clusters of barangays—Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Western 1, Western 2, Northeastern 1, Northeastern 2, San Antonio 1, and San Antonio 2.

Participants, all young students, donned their colorful costumes inspired by traditional countryside attire and corn, and performed dances exulting corn farming and farmers as well as elements of local culture.

In the street dance category, Poblacion 2 was hailed as champion, while San Antonio 2 was declared first runner-up, Western 1 second runner-up and Poblacion 1 third runner-up. In the showdown category, Poblacion 2 again bagged the championship. Other winners were Poblacion 1 (first runner-up), San Antonio 2 (second runner-up), and San Antonio 1 (third runner-up).

After revealing the dance winners, organizers also revealed the overall winners, based on their cumulative achievements in different festival competitions. The cluster of Poblacion 2 reigned supreme. They were followed by San Antonio 2 and Western 2 as first runners-up, and Western 1 as second runner-up.

The program was capped with a grand firework display, an apt representation of the joy of victory as well as the successful holding of the festival.

Crowd lit up their mobile phones during the finale concert featuring December Avenue.
Crowd lit up their mobile phones during the finale concert featuring December Avenue.PhotographS by roel manipon for the daily tribune

Gawad Ilagueño and grand concert

The last night of the Mammangi Festival was reserved for recognizing outstanding Ilagueños in different fields,

The 2024 awardees are Jojo M. Ramos in the field of education; chief of police Lord Wilson J. Adorio in the field of peace and order; Department of Information And Communications Technology undersecretary Heherson M. Asiddao in the field of public administration and governance; basketball player Ricci Paolo U. Rivero in the field of sports; Perine V. Agraviador for the youth sector; Evelyn C. Diaz for the women’s sector; Dr. Victor Jesus D. Villaroman in the field of business administration and entrepreneurship; and Dr. Herbee M. Barrios in the professional field.

Special citations were also bestowed to Nida D. Aranda in the field of education; Mark B. Agcaoili in the field of music, arts and culture; Ilagan Fil-Chinese Volunteers in the field of peace and order; and nurses Steve M. Esteban and Xyza Aura M. Malloch in the professional field.

The night was capped by a concert featuring December Avenue, ending the festival with music, lights and anticipation for the next festival.

Poblacion Cluster 2 emerged as the overall champion of the Mammangi Festival Street Dance and Showdown Competition.
Poblacion Cluster 2 emerged as the overall champion of the Mammangi Festival Street Dance and Showdown Competition.Photographs by Roel Hoang Manipon for the daily tribune
The Northeastern Cluster 1 contigent performed during the Mammangi Festival Street Dance and Showdown.
The Northeastern Cluster 1 contigent performed during the Mammangi Festival Street Dance and Showdown.Photographs by Roel Hoang Manipon for the daily tribune
A lively performance of Western Cluster 1 contingent.
A lively performance of Western Cluster 1 contingent.Photographs by Roel Hoang Manipon for the daily tribune
The Northeastern Cluster 2 contingent showed their mettle in street dancing.
The Northeastern Cluster 2 contingent showed their mettle in street dancing.Photographs by Roel Hoang Manipon for the daily tribune

Stationed at a small park along a main highway, the giant replica of the butaka has become familiar to residents and travelers in the northeastern part of Luzon Island, making the hefty Spanish-era chair with long armrests and a slanting back, said to be used for resting and birthing, a cultural icon of Ilagan City. But as you go around the capital of the sprawling province of Isabela, especially around the city proper, the details of public structures depict the images of the corn, the city’s top crop.

Ilagan has been trumpeted as the Corn Capital of the Philippines, as proclaimed by the Department of Agriculture on 11 August 2015, on the third anniversary of its cityhood.

The Spaniards introduced corn into the Philippines from Mexico, where it is native, via the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. It was cultivated in Cebu in 1700s, according to earliest records, and then its farming spread throughout the country, becoming an important crop, second to rice. Ilagan City presently is the leading corn producer in the Cagayan Valley region and one of the major producers in the country. The fourth largest city in the country, 17,568 hectares of its land is dedicated to farming corn, yielding an annual harvest of 168,774 metric tons and contributing 2.17 percent to the national corn production. Most of the harvest are used in making animal feeds and cooking ingredients such as starch, syrup and oil.

Thus, in conceptualizing a festival, corn farming immediately came up as inspiration. In 2011, an ordinance was passed declaring the Mammangi Festival as the city’s official festival with the support of Ilagan Mayor Josemarie L. Diaz. The name came from the Ibanag, one of the languages in the city, which refers to the cultivation of the corn as well as to the corn farmers, which number to 12,708, who the annual event is said to honor. The festival is scheduled for the first week of May to also celebrate the anniversary of the city’s founding on 4 May 1686.

The Mammangi Festival, like other recently created festivals in the country, primarily aims to promote the city as well as be an avenue for celebration with a lineup of different events from competitions to shows. It is also designed to be a touristic draw and a showcase of local culture as well as tourist attractions.

Over the years, the Mammangi Festival has developed to become one of Isabela’s biggest events, second only to the provincewide Bambanti Festival in January. From 2020 to 2022, the festival was not held because of the coronavirus pandemic and made a return in 2023 but was held in August due to super typhoon “Mawar.”

This 2024, the festival, held from 5 to 10 May, continued its comeback on a bigger scale with the theme “Liveable City of Ilagan 2030: Isinasapuso Ng Bawat Ilagueño.” Beginning with the 338th Aggaw na Ilagan and a Thanksgiving Mass, the festival slate was filled with Tienda Ilagan Agri-Ecotourism and Food Fair, Cultural Olympics, Binibining Ilagan Grand Coronation Night, Barangay Night, Gawad Ilagueño awarding ceremony, Off-Road Challenge, the Street Dance and Showdown Competitions and the Mammangi Grand Concert.

Tienda Ilagan Agri-Ecotourism and food fair

The Tienda Ilagan Agri-Ecotourism and Food Fair, inaugurated on 4 May and open throughout the festival, was one of the most visited features of the festival with booths of different barangays, government agencies and businesses. Attractively constructed to reflect local cultures, functions and aspirations, the booths offered local products.

In the booth competition, the Western 1 booth was declared champion in Category A (barangay clusters), with Poblacion 2 as second runner-up and San Antonio 1 as first runner-up, while in Category B (agencies), the champion was the Isabela Electric Cooperative II booth with Department of Agriculture as second runner-up and Sagittarian first runner-up.

Cultural Olympics

The Cultural Olympics, whose pre-finals were held on 5 May at City of Ilagan Community Center, consisted of competitions in singing, photography, sculpture and painting for residents. On 9 May, the winners were revealed.

In painting, Jorome Tarun of Bliss Village emerged as champion while Joey Gibs Eusebio of Namnama was first runner-up and Maureen Lozada of Naguilian Sur second runner-up. In photography, Veronica Versoza of Santa Barbara was declared winner, while John Christopher Navarro of Allinguigan was first runner-up, and Lucky Danielle dela Rosa of Bagumbayan second runner-up. Alexander Juan of Alibagu was proclaimed champion in the solo singing contest.

Daily Tribune