Sabutan Festival, Palanan’s Way of Promoting its Culture and Products

Palanan, one of the coastal towns of Isabela Province, Luzon, has gained popularity through its Sabutan festival, the most colorful and fun festivals in the coastal town.

This local festivity marks the establishment of the civil government of Palanan, the commemoration of the capture of the first president of the Republic, Emilio Aguinaldo and the promotion of the sabutan products like mats, fans and bags made of grass grown in the coastal areas of Palanan.

Sabutan is a plant that grows along the coastal area of Palanan, used by the women of Palanan in making mats, bags, hats, and fans, which then serve as an additional source of income.

These products are showcased in native dances and band exhibition.

Spectators can enjoy a variety of sabutan float parades, which endorses its number one product, the sabutan.

Sabutan is also a celebration of Palaneños whose bodies are painted with black in effect to imitate the black, small and slender Dumagats who are the aborigines of Quezon province and Cagayan Valley.

It is an annual event every March 20-22, where the whole town rejoices, shouting their pride of being a Palaneño and telling their culture.

It is not just a celebration: it is also a religious evangelization.

The participants are dressed in fashionable and colorful Dumagat costumes and dance artistically and rhythmically with complicated formations along with the loud thrashing and sound of drums.

As more tribes from the sitio, schools, and nearby barangays participate, it has become a contest in terms of costumes, choreography, and sounds.

Participating tribes learn to design artistically and originally using native materials like dried anahaw leaves, buri or coconut palm leaves, and husks and sabutan leaves.

They also include a brief dramatization of how Christianity was brought to Palanan. During the celebration, people participate with the festivities.

Some are dressed in Dumagat costumes, some paint their faces with black, some put on colored artificial tattoos and wear other Dumagat ornaments. (Thelma C. Bicarme and Merlito G. Edale Jr./PIA 2-Isabela)

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