Bulls on Parade: Pavia’s Carabao Carroza Festival in Photos

By martin espino

It was just this early Saturday morning on May 2nd, right as the Iloilo Bike Festival was happening, that I visited the central town of Pavia one Saturday morning to witness a one-of-a-kind event which the town holds a day before its annual fiesta in honor of their patron, Santa Monica. It is on this day that the town—which is primarily an agricultural area—pays tribute to the hard work of the farmers and the produce they harvest through that most humble of native animals, the carabao, through the Carabao Carroza Festival.

The Carabao Carroza Festival traditionally starts with the parade of eighteen muses representing the town’s eighteen barangays. Each was riding on their respective carrozas, which were elaborately bedecked with the town’s famous produce like the watermelon [Editor: Here being given its proper tribute by Sheeb Guazo], dried corn husks, and brooms made from dried coconut leaves. The carabaos pulling the carrozas were also dressed and decorated for the festival, too.

The highlight of the festival is the race after the parade. The eighteen carabaos participate in a series of eliminations, called ‘hits’, in sets of six, with three carabaos participating for each hit. The winning six are then made to compete in the second hit that will decide on who will race in the third and final hit.

Below are some of the photos Project Iloilo took during the festival.

Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
An elaborately decorated carabao and carroza of one of the participating barangays


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
This muse is all smiles and very much in a festive mood


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
The carrozas used in the race


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
A rider and his bull waiting for their turn


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
And the race is on as the crowd cheers


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
Some bulls aren’t in the mood to race and just stop midway


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
A rider is prepped for the race


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
It’s all cheers and yells from the crowd as this bull and rider pass by


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
A closer look at the intricate patterns adorning the body of this bull


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
Homeward bound. Win or lose, everyone had a good time.


Carabao Carroza Festival - Project Iloilo
The festivities end and the bulls and their riders head home



Martin Espino is a caffeine-reliant, analogue-loving individual who writes in his spare time. You can follow him on Instagram at @frozen_armpits.


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