First Time In Bicol: Experiencing the Bantayog Festival 2019

The best thing about my country Philippines is that you get the most of your travel experience here, whether you love nature, visiting museums, learning a new culture or simply enjoying the island life, you won’t fall short of beautiful places to see. A month isn’t enough to explore the Philippines and its entirety. Some foreigners I know actually decided to live here because they just simply fell in love with the beauty of it. Pristine beaches, untouched islands. breathtaking mountains that can only be seen on postcards and finally, the simplicity of life along with the happy vibe of the Filipinos.

But other than nature and culture, the Philippines are also known for its colorful festivals. Having been colonized by the Spanish back in 1521, the Filipinos have acquired different traditions, which also includes these colorful festivals we are witnessing every year.

THE BANTAYOG FESTIVAL: IT’S HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The festival is a commemoration of the first monument of the country’s hero Jose P. Rizal. Many historians ask why the oldest monument dedicated in honor of Rizal is located in Bicol when he never set foot there in the first place. The reason for this is that the people of Camarines Norte felt the need to build a monument for our hero as a sign of respect and honor for revolutionaries who fought during Spanish colonization. The link between Rizal and these revolutionaries of Bicolandia connects through their involvement with the Freemasonry. Unbeknownst to some people, there’s a lodge for masons in Camarines Norte and we all know that Rizal was also a mason himself.

The monument was built in 1898 and is situated in Daet, Camarines Norte. You would notice the evident inscriptions seen at the base of the monument of Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and Marga 1889, which were the books written by Rizal.

Since then, the Bicolanos continued to celebrate the festival for a one-month duration. It is aimed to highlight the different specialties and activities of each town and a chance to showcase their talents through competitions


Colorful banderitas (a small flag-shaped piece of paper arranged in a string) attract many tourists and turns out to be Instagrammable too.
Photo credits to Evo of Palawander

The municipal government and tourism officials of Camarines Norte has prepared several activities for the whole month to celebrate not just the 15th Bantayog Festival but also with it’s 99 Founding Anniversary with the theme “Nagkakaisang CamNorteño Tungo sa Bagong Siglo”.

SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES WE HAVE WITNESSED ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Bankathon Competition

The Bankathon competition was held at Mangcamagong, Daet and all the locals were there to witness the exciting event despite the intense heat of summer. Fishermen who were participants of this event designed their boats in different themes and colors.


Fisherman’s ode to self’ Always return no matter what “.

My personal pick

I got my personal pick of this boat which sort of looks like a military-themed style. I approached one fisherman and asked permission if I can take a photo with me on it but he refused, saying it’s not allowed since the boat is part of the competition. So, I had to make do with this pose.

Preparing to condition the boats to make sure there won’t be any mechanical malfunctions.
With my fellow travel blogger Karla of Karla Around The World

We weren’t able to finish the competition but I came to know that whoever wins the race would get 40k pesos if I remember correctly. Good moolah seriously.

Angling (rod and line) Competition

I’ve no clue how difficult it is to catch some fishes in the sea, and it’s not just random fishes that they have to catch but those species that are acceptable for commercial consumption. I found this competition very interesting because of the impressive skills of these fishermen. The tools that they use like the fishing rod, fish pots, trawls, and long lines are the required arsenals necessary for them to catch as many fish as possible in order for them to win.

One of the winners of Angling. I’m digging his full-on gear . So swag don’t you think?
Bad-ass fishermen ready to catch some fish!
The catch.
Arsenals for fishing
Selfie with one of the winners, our star of the sea!!!
Amazing catch but I feel sad for these sea creatures seriously.

Meet the winners


The winners:

Marlon Acone – 2nd Runner-up won 2,000 pesos

Johnson Laviste – 1st Runner-up won 3,000 pesos

Buboy Molave – Grand Winner won 5,000 pesos

Photo ops


I was rooting for the manong with the long fishing rod because of the full head-to-toe gear. Good thing he still won the consolation price.

Volleyball Competition

The volleyball competition was held in Bagasbas beach, known as the surfing capital of the Bicol region. The waves here are the beach breaks type suitable for beginners. It is also popular not just for surfers but for kiteboarding enthusiasts too. Several kitesurfers can be seen with their colorful kites beautifying the shores of Bagasbas.

I would love to surf, but I need someone to teach me 🙂

We took a quick swim for a few hours before heading for lunch. The water here is nicely warm and I love watching the volleyball players and the surfers do their own thing. the long strip of Bagasbas beach can be seen when you drive the long stretch of Cory Aquino Boulevard, which is known to be the longest boulevard in the country.

Corazon Aquino Boulevard
With my fellow blogger Boy Raket

Trying out the Cam Norte specialties

The food served to us during lunch and dinner gave me an intense culinary orgasm. It was my first time to try Sinantolan and I found myself piling up rice and putting heaps of the Sinantolan on my plate. Another specialty they have is this Sinigang na Lechon.

Sinigang na Lechon from Bonita Restaurant

I had my first sip of brown rice coffee, which was another first for me. This coffee is more like a replacement coffee for those who don’t want caffeine in their system. It is sweet and lacking that strong kick but it’s still flavorful.

Fellow blogger Albert of Hey Daddy Ph looking very coordinated with the wall of the restaurant

We greatly appreciate all the food served to us and the Cam Norte tourism made sure we were well fed. My fellow blogger Karla loved the spaghetti so much and I was watching her with amusement, looking so adorable and cute. My personal favorite is the sisig, although it’s not too spicy for my personal taste but it’s enough to ignite happy hormones.

Bantayog Fetival 2019
Bantayog Fetival 2019
Bantayog Fetival 2019
Bantayog Fetival 2019

This was just the first day. I’ll be posting a separate blog for our trip to The Town Of Gold.

Take your own risk for the sake of a cool tourist photo.

The Bantayog Festival 2019 runs from April 2-May 6. Camarines Norte didn’t disappoint me and I bet there are still many places here that aren’t discovered yet by many.

More of Camarines Norte on my next blog post.

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