Ilagan's Mammangi Festival Shines With Culture and Innovation

The city celebrated their corn harvest through a festival of colorful parades, exhibits, performances, and booths that showcased the richness of local products. 

At the heart of Isabela in Cagayan Valley is the capital city of Ilagan, known for its annual Mammangi Festival. The festival’s name comes from the word magui in the Ibanag dialect, which translates to “corn.” As the title implies, the celebration pays tribute to the bountiful corn harvests of local farmers and upholds Ilagan’s reputation as the Corn Capital of the Philippines

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A corn farm in Ilagan
A corn farm in Ilagan/Photo from the Ilagan Agriculture website

From August 1 to 13, the entire city came alive with harvest offerings from farmers. Other colorful showcases like a buoy parade and road moving exhibitions were also part of the festivities. The Binibining Ilagan 2023 Grand Finals and Coronation Night, Barangay Night, and the Awarding of Sikan Na Ilagan and Outstanding Ilagueños also took place during the multi-day occasion. 

A City for All

The festival represents the city of Ilagan’s vision to become better in every way come 2030. Its battle cry is “The Livable City of Ilagan 2030: Adhikain ng Bawat Ilagueño.” This roughly translates to “The Livable City of Ilagan 2030: The Ambition of Every Ilagueño.” Mayor “JLD” Diaz stated that he and the city’s council members intend to make this dream a reality through various programs, projects, and services. 

“The present leaders of the city are guided by five pillars to attain [this] goal […] namely survivability, sustainability, innovations, mobility, and development respectively,” he emphasized in a recent speech. 

Diaz aims to pursue more social services, health, entrepreneurial, education, and disaster management projects. He will also be focusing on infrastructure programs to include economic growth and curb poverty. 

Fruits of the Harvest

Agri-ecotourism booths at the city’s Promenade offered visitors a glimpse of Ilagan’s rich resources and services. Booths highlighted the diverse and bountiful products of the city like fresh agricultural items. 

This gave local entrepreneurs the chance to promote local trade and reinvigorate the city’s economy. The initiative is particularly significant after the Mammangi festival’s three-year hiatus in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Winning booths also received cash prizes ranging from Php 10,000 to Php 100,000 for their efforts. 

Talents of the City 

The city of Ilagan created a memorable festival with a memorable modern dance competition during the evening of August 9. Dancers donned colorful props and costumes that were visual homages to tradition and the corn harvest. 

Dancers with costumes and baskets inspired by the corn harvest
Dancers with costumes and baskets inspired by the corn harvest/Photo courtesy of Teddy Pelaez

Each performance used Ilagan’s grand vision of a livable city as a central theme in their dance concepts and storylines. Indeed, despite the heat of the afternoon, the performers continued to dance with the grace and joy of people whose city has a bright future ahead. 

Singer and actress Geneva Cruz, along with the comedic duo of MC and Lassy, also provided extra entertainment throughout the program. 

Ending With a Bang

The city of Ilagan capped off this year’s Mammangi festival with a grand concert featuring local artists like Celeste Legazpi, Dulce, Gino Padilla, and Gigi De Lana. Performing alongside them were the Whiplash Dance Company, the top five winners of the city’s choral competition, and the street dance showdown winners. 

Performers from the street dance showdown competition
Performers from the street dance showdown competition/Photo courtesy of Teddy Pelaez

A grand fireworks show followed the performances, one which rivaled the beauty and excellence of international pyrotechnics. Indeed, there was no better way to honor the hardworking farmers and their good harvest through an event that celebrated the ingenuity, hard work, and talent of the Filipino—and in this case, more specifically the Ilagueño.

Banner photo courtesy of Teddy Pelaez.

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