The most exciting National Rodeo Finals is ongoing at the Masbate Grand Arena, with Awards night on the 16th.
I have been attending the festival for three years in a row, and I have booked my flight and my hotel for this year, too. Some friends are saying they will be in Masbate for up to 3 weeks, finding the rodeo week a rather short period to truly enjoy Masbate. Yes, Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, and hosts the biggest rodeo event in the Philippines. maybe even the biggest in all of Asia. And on top of the rodeo, visitors will find side-trips to be so rewarding, seeing waterfalls, white sand beaches, centuries-old lighthouses, and many more attractions.
First of all, the Rodeo.
Masbate has the only proper rodeo arena in the country. Whereas all the rodeos I have visited make do with bamboo to fence off the arena, and some with GI pipes temporarily welded, Masbate has sturdy fences, a proper stage, bleachers, and a stand for the rodeo officials. There is also a canteen, and a medical facility, plus a whole complement of Red Cross volunteers. There is also a proper stockyard where the cattle is kept, supervised by veterinarians to make sure the cattle are properly handled, properly fed.
The event started with a parade around the city to the arena. Participants from the competing teams from all over the country, professionals and students taking vet-med or other agri-animal related courses join officials and ranch owners as they walk or ride horses to the arena. This year, there were Manila based personalities like Congressman Roman Romulo, Congressman Sherwin Gatchalian, Ms Risa Hontiveros, broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez-Roxas, and guests of honor Mr Andre Kahn, chairman and owner of ad agency J Romeo, and Monette Ituralde Hamlin of Team Asia. The city mayor, the Congressman from the third district of Masbate, town mayors from around Masbate City, and the provincial Governor Vince Revil plus his wife, Vice Governor Kaye Revil came in full force, in cowboy get up. Truly cowboy country. Opening ceremonies were held, including a ceremonial cattle branding led by Rodeo Masbateno Inc. President Judge Manuel Sese and the guests. An exhibition bull riding and casting down events came thereafter. The real games begin in the afternoon. I have yet to take photos of the 2016 games – – – meanwhile I have posted photos I took from previous rodeos in Masbate to give you a glimpse of what to expect.
On Day 2, the traditional Cattle Drive begins. About 120 cattle from the city center are released and are herded by cowboys on the city streets towards the arena. I have called this in the past “Fun Run ng Mga Baka”. Some friends have likened it to the “Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
The events will keep you riveted. Bring your cameras and click away. To some people, the most awaited event is Bull Riding. In here, cowboys mount the bull from inside a pen, and need to be on top and riding the bull as it is released. It takes 8 seconds to qualify, and yet majority actually fall on the first second or so. Those who make it are scored based on how they rode the bull, how they held their hats on the other hand, and how they managed the bull. It is a show, a spectacle.
Another event some people find as their favorite is the carambola. It can be a 2-man carambola, a 4-man carambola. There is also a women’s division. Carambola is played with two teams of competing cowboys chasing 2 cows on the arena. The first team that grabs a cattle by the neck “owns” the cattle and they just need to bring the cattle down and tie the cattle’s feet. If the cattle is unable to rise after 10 seconds, it is ruled as a good play. Participants compete for the best time.
There is also casting down. Teams lasso the cattle and then throw a lasso around its torso so they can pull and cast the cattle down, and tie its feet.
There are also lassoing events. Either in foot, or on horseback.
The events are officiated by members of VROoM, the Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate, and mounted by the Rodeo Masbateno, Inc., supported by the provincial and city governments of Masbate as well as the private sector.
AFTER OR IN BETWEEN THE RODEO: Around Masbate
Get your gears ready. Pack your summer shirts and shorts, swimwear, and cameras. Book early. And be at the most exciting festival there is in the Philippines. The Masbate Rodeo festival. April 12-17, 2016.
Please see the Rodeo Masbateno facebook for more details
Rodeo Festival facebook page: