Fiesta like there's no mañana: Exploring the Joyful Chaos of Puerto Princesa's Baragatan Festival

The Baragatan Festival has a joyous exuberance that is evident everywhere. Vibrant colors, lively music and smiling faces are all part of this intoxicating mix. You can't help but be drawn in by its infectious energy.
Orly Agawin

Ah, the Baragatan Festival - one of Puerto Princesa's most beloved and colorful celebrations. The bustling capital of Palawan comes alive during this festive celebration! Street parades and traditional performances bring life and color to this celebration, which takes place annually in Puerto Princesa. Why "Baragatan?" Someone thought that "bagat" which means "to gather or meet" in the Cunyon dialect, sounded just right.

So they threw some Scrabble tiles out the window and announced, "Yup, that's our name!"

The festival coincides with Palawan's founding day on June 23. To commemorate this date officially and commemoratively, they even passed a provincial resolution in 1988 to make this happen. And just for an extra touch of bureaucratic excitement, Salvador Socrates, in 1997 issued Executive Order No. 2 proclaiming its foundation day.

In addition, the Republic Act No. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo approved Republic Act No. 9748 on November 10, 2009 declaring June 23 as a special non-working holiday in the province. After all, what's a festival without a break from work, yes?

As with so much in the Philippines, Baragatan Festival has flourished thanks to modern local citizens' creativity and resourcefulness. Now an all-out three-day affair that draws visitors from far and wide alike, featuring everything from dance performances and musical concerts to food fairs, beauty pageants, and parades.

The Baragatan Festival radiates with joyous exuberance that's evident every where you go. Like the Sinulog, you're bound to feel drawn in by its magnetic energy - with vibrant colors, lively music, and welcoming smiles!

Of course, there will always be those who allege that the festival has become too commercialized or has lost touch with its roots within Tagbanua culture. And they may well have some validity; after all, it can be challenging to maintain its sense of authenticity when selling T-shirts and keychains with festival logos.

That, to me, is part of what makes the Baragatan Festival great: its adaptability is a testament to its viability as an ongoing tradition for generations of attendees and participants alike. I see its evolution as another facet of its legacy, an organism constantly evolving according to our ever-changing needs and wants. So long as its heart remains intact - community spirit, thankfulness for coming together, a sheer delight at celebrating together - this festival should remain a beloved tradition among its participants for many years ahead.

So if you find yourself in Puerto Princesa during June, I strongly encourage checking out the Baragatan Festival. You will experience a real feast for all five senses while appreciating the Philippines' rich cultural heritage - plus, you might see some impressive dance moves! Who doesn't enjoy a good dance party!?


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