Pagsanjan’s Extreme Bangkero Festival
Looking back in the 1970s, Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna, Philippines was the country’s pioneer tourist attraction. It was dubbed as the “Tourist Capital of Laguna” for it has a solid and a perfect spot of the tourists who travels far and extensive just to experience the famous rapids of the Pagsanjan River and Falls. It was featured on different media and several posters as a symbol of the country’s pride. Through the years, the town continues to grow to keep their tradition and culture alive while preserving the inimitable Pagsanjan River and Falls. One of their traditions to be annually celebrated and to give thanks for the hard work of the bangkeros (boatmen) is the Bangkero Festival.
Bangkero is a Tagalog term given to those whose work provides a means of transportation on a river using a “Bangka” (boat).
The Pagsanjan’s Bangkero Festival is held during first week of March. It is encouraged by and dedicated to all bangkeros (boatmen) in Pagsanjan and in honor of the town’s patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe. These boatmen serve as our tour guides whose skills and agility demonstrated in managing the boats upstream and against strong currents of water until reaching the lovely view of the breathtaking Pagsanjan Falls. For the people living in Pagsanjan, Bangkeros are heroes. They are rulers of the mighty Pagsanjan Rivers, conquering dangerous waters to reach the Magdapio Falls or also known as Pagsanjan Falls. The local government aims to push the advocacy on environmental protection and promotion of the local tourism through the celebration of the Bangkero Festival.
The Festival features exciting events on water and land like the “palarong bangkero” (fluvial parade and exhibitions), street dancing, drum and lyre band competition, chorale fest, cultural night presentations, trade fair, concert, sports events among others and search for “Ginoong Bangkero” and Lakan at Binibining Pagsanjan. Other events of the festival include showcase of their local products, a parade by the river that shows different and brilliantly decorated floats made out of canoes. There is also a paddle-painting contest, a kakanin cooking contest, a dragon boat race, pageant for boatmen and an assortment of native games.
Indeed, The Pagsanjan’s Bangkero Festival was a fun-filled week of celebration. A celebration that aims to promote the natural resources of Pagsanjan and a festival to give credit and appreciation that the Bangkeros of Pagsanjan truly deserves.