PULILAN, Bulacan-The Saturday’s Kneeling Carabao festival in this year’s Feast of San Isidro Labrador gave residents and local tourists a reprieve from two years COVID-19 pandemic and a break from high emotions brought by the result of May 9 election.
Folks braced the heat of the sun to witness the carabaos kneel once more and paraded in front of the Parish of San Isidro Labrador in Poblacion. The festivities were stopped for two years because of the stringent health protocols brought by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Josef Navarro, Pulilan municipal tourism officer said around 200 farmers from their town brought their carabaos and joined the parade along the town’s major roads.
But unlike during the previous years, no farmers from other Bulacan towns and adjacent provinces of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija were invited this time to bring their carabaos not only because of compliance to health protocol but also because of limited time preparation, Pulilan farmer’s group president Noel Mauricio said.
Each farmer who joins the parade receives P1,000.
However, despite the time constraints, Mauricio said they really pushed to bring back the festivity to give people something to celebrate as a sign of the end of the hed lock downs under the pandemic.
Mauricio said, the festival also serves as a break and a diversion from the post election result tension and heat by the followers and supporters of opposing camps of national and local candidates.
“Pinilit na talaga namin na maibalik na ulit ang festival kahit pang Pulilan lang ito sa ngayon at wala muna kami inimbitang taga labas gaya dati, kasi para sumaya ulit ang bayan mula sa pasakit ng COVID-19 at gayundin ay mapahinga at ma-relax after election, lalo na iyong mga bitter dahil natalo ang kandidato nila, para maiba naman ang focus ng isip nila,” he said.
The festivity was five days after the May 9 elections wherein almost all winning local candidates were already proclaimed and most from those who lost have yet to recover from pain.
In the national level, supporters of losing presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo continue to show denial and refusal over their camp’s defeat and stage left and right demonstrations and protests.
This year’s festivity theme, “San Isidro called for Holiness” (San Isidro Tinatawag sa Kabanalan) gives continuous honor to the farmer’s patron saint on his quadricentennial celebration early this year.
Based on tradition and belief, carabaos are made by their masters, (farmers) to kneel in front of San Isidro parish church during the feast day for San Isidro Labrador as their way of honoring him for a bountiful harvest in the past year and coupled with prayers of continued abundance in the next coming years.
According to Mauricio, amid the modern farming technology today, carabaos remain useful and a major source of earning for the farmers.
He said carabaos still till the land in areas the tractors cannot reach. Carabaos also carry and fetch the harvested palay, called the “karyada,”. Mauricio said, carabao karyada rental also allows a farmer in Pulilan to earn more than a P100,000 every harvest season.
The animals also produce fresh milk which continue to be very in demand in the market, he said.
Mauricio said they hope that next year, the grand carabao festival will return where carabaos from other towns in Bulacan and even from adjacent Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces can participate again.
Thousands of people annually flock to this town during the Kneeling Carabao Feast.
The Kneeling Carabao Festival was previously hailed as the top local tourism festivity in the province including in the regional and national level.