Farmers, hopeful for a bountiful harvest, train their carabaos to give tribute to their patron saint, San Isidro.
PULILAN, BULACAN – Thousands of people – and carabaos — gathered in this town on May 14, for the Kneeling Carabao Festival, in honor of the town’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador.
This festival is celebrated every year, bringing in up to 800 carabaos, from the 19 villages of Pulilan, other Bulacan towns such as Angat, Pandi, San Rafael, San Miguel, Baliuag, Plaridel and Nueva Ecija province.
Santi Santos, head of tourism in of Pulilan said that “bountiful harvest” is every year’s theme of the festival. Participating villages design their floats with the crops that their village is known for.
There’s no limit on how many carabaos each person can bring, because there are families who own three or more carabaos, Santos said. He added that the municipal government gives P1,000 ($22) for each carabao instead of gift packs.
The Carabao festival was said to be an old tradition introduced by the Spaniards to convert the people to Christianity through San Isidro Labrador.
Who is San Isidro Labrador?
San Isidro Labrador, or St. Isidore, is considered the patron saint of farmers and rural communities, with his feast day celebrated every 15th of May.
Born to a poor family in Madrid, Spain in 1070, he worked for a wealthy landowner. It was believed that his kindness to beggars and animals yielded bountiful crops.
Isidore died on May 15, 1120 at age 60, was canonized in 1622, along with four other Spanish saints: St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis Xavier, St. Phillip Neri.
Hope for a good harvest
Farmers thank “Tata Sidro,” the Pulileños name for San Isidro, and wish for a bountiful harvest, by teaching their carabaos to kneel in front of the San Isidro Labrador Church.
Danilo Teodora, 62, from Plaridel, said he said he has been joining the festival parade for 55 years.
“It has been my devotion to join the parade ever since I was a child, because we ask him (San Isidro) for a good harvest,” he said.
Joel Santos, 25 from Peñabatan village in Pulilan said he started to join the carabao parade three years ago, but it has been a long-time village tradition.
Many farmers pray, not just for a good farm yield, but also for the health of their beast of burden, and for peace in their town.
Nineteen floats represented the 19 Pulilan villages. Some 10 floats from the commercial businesses also participated.