of Bull - Pulilan Carabao Festival
- Mabuhay (Philippine Airlines), May 2001
Pulilan, Bulacan isn't known only
for its carabaos; it also has butterflies to boot. Just a few
kilometers off the North Expressway lies the Pulilan Butterfly
Haven. Located near the town center, this picturesque, 500-square
meter compound is nirvana-in-net for anything with six legs, a
pair of colorful wings, and an unbashed obsession for flowers.
For us two-legged creatures, on the
other hand, it offers a welcome break from the mall - as well
as an entertaining and educational experience. Guests get to watch
a documentary video on "Nature's Flying Gems", then
go on to tour the garden-enclosure, with its lush greenery, cascading
waterfalls, and hundreds of fluttering butterflies. There's a
$1 entrance fee - a negligible amount, really, for the chance
to adore there multi-hued charmers.
Elsewhere in Luzon, another
time-honored tradition is taking place. Whereas the kiping embodies
the fiesta in Lucban, a different "ornament" takes center
stage in Pulilan - Bulacan - the water buffalo!
There are herds of these and
a lot more at the Pulilan Carabao Festival, a fun-filled (and slightly
bizarre) celebration that showcases these native field animals. Like
the Pahiyas, this annual event is also held in honor of San Isidro Labrador
(that's right, the Patron Saint of Farmers), to whom gifts and gratitude
are offered for another bountiful harvest. What makes this occassion
unusual, however, is that the thanksgiving is done by the carabaos themselves!
The beasts are bathed, oiled
and perfumed with flowers on the morning of the 14th, after which they
stand in formation on the church grounds, awaiting the chance to pay
homage to San Isidro. They are them amde to kneel in front of the church,
receiving blessing from the priests (and a nod of approval from the
saint) in the process. A series of carabao races follows on the 15th.
By the end of the event, both
water buffalo and humans will have had their fill of this yearly revelry.
The animals will, of course, return to the fields on the next day, perhaps
oblivious to their starring role in the recent festivities. But then
again, maybe they do know their place in Pulilan's fiesta of fiestas.
One thing's for sure, though - man, woman, child or beast, this festival
of blessed bovines is something they won't soon forget.