Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Wild Wild West Fantasies Come Alive In Masbate’s Rodeo Festival


Wild Wild West Fantasies Come Alive In Masbate’s Rodeo Festival


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No one can resist the allure of Masbate during its annual Rodeo Festival.

As the curtains of the 28th Rodeo Festival officially closed on Sunday, let’s listen to the tales of those who heeded the call of the thunderous beat of the hooves, the sharp crack of the whip, and the reverberating cheers of the crowd as they share what it was like to step into a scene straight out of a country-western movie.


PH’s Rodeo Capital

Dubbed the “Rodeo Capital of the Philippines,” Masbate’s annual festival invites visitors to experience a taste of the Wild West as it pays tribute to the province’s prized cattle and livestock industry in a two-week adrenaline-pumping and heart-racing extravaganza.

At the heart of the celebration are the much-anticipated Rodeo National Finals, organized by Rodeo Masbate Inc.

This year, at least 44 teams, comprising 12 professional and 32 student teams from across the country, battled it out in a show-stopping display of skills, agility, precision, grit, and courage from April 9 to 13.

In the student category, there were 18 teams in the male division and 14 in the female division, respectively.

As real cowboys and cowgirls strutted their wares in various events, such as the carambola, load carry relay, casting down, lassoing on foot and on horse, and bull riding, the festival gave spectators a chance to live out their western fantasies as they experienced firsthand the exhilarating and rugged atmosphere that has come to define the cowboy world.

Cecille Camacho, 31, originally from Masbate but now residing in Metro Manila, said the journey back to her hometown for the festival was worth it.

She disclosed that what made this year’s homecoming even more memorable was the fact that she was able to share this one-of-a-kind experience with her friends from the metro.

“I believe the Masbate Rodeo Festival is the most exciting festival in the Philippines, and it has great potential to be recognized as a unique festival nationwide,” she said.

Masbate vlogger and photographer Mark Allan Almocera, 30, couldn’t agree more.

“Our festival stands out because we celebrate our unique Filipino cowboy culture. As the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, our festival highlights traditional horsemanship, roping skills, and other rodeo events that showcase our local talent and heritage,” he said.

“This focus on cowboy traditions in our Filipino context is what makes our festival truly special and differentiates it from others in the country.”


Cowboy culture

Every April, all roads lead to this island province in the southeastern peninsula of Luzon as rodeo enthusiasts from all over the Philippines congregate in the dusty Masbate Grand Rodeo Arena.

Nahshun Cabanacan, 22, who competed in various tilts, such as the four-man carambola, steer wrestling, and load carrying, said chasing, wrestling, and constraining cows and bulls are no easy feat. But his team’s training and mindset sealed their win.

“Every player must really have enough air and strength to withstand the physical demands of these competitions,” he said in the vernacular.

As part of the University of Science and Technology of the Southern Philippines (USTP) Kalamag Rodeo Team, Cabanacan, along with the members of his student club, made the pilgrimage from Claveria town in Misamis Oriental to Masbate City to join this year’s National Finals.

The USTP Kalamag Claveria Rodeo team was hailed as the overall champion in the student male category.

But the recently concluded Rodeo Festival was not just for the cowboys and cowgirls alone.

According to Jezziel Barruga, tourism staff, beyond the rodeo ring, locals and tourists alike were also given the chance to partake in the merriment as they reveled in various festivities.

“The grand parade, barn dance, rodeo saloon, fireworks display, cattle drive, carnival rides, and trade fairs that showcased our rich cultural heritage really made this year’s festival truly memorable,” she said.

For Camacho, a night out with friends at the bustling beer plaza while listening to live performers was a bonus.

Masbate will always hold a special place in the hearts of those fortunate enough to experience the thrilling cowboy vibe of this humble province.

In the words of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, the province’s Rodeo Festival “gives the Filipino people so much source of national pride being a unique and truly world-class festival.” (PNA)