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Town Festival in the Philippines #1: Buswak in Minalabac, Camarines Sur

Ireno is now a treasurer of his barangay since 2018. He just took the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) last March 24,2019.

What 'Buswak' is all about

Buswak is a vernacular word (Bicol term) for fruit-bearing stage of palay or rice.

Since, my hometown MInalabac, is known for its vast ricefields, the local government unit officials and its tourism council decided to make it as an annual civic event, every month of March, showcasing the abundance of agricultural produce during the start of summer.

Started on year 2007, the tourism committee focuses on the importance of town's vague history, legends and folklores.

Way back year March 2014, the Buswak Festival opened with street dancing participated in for the first time by some 200 public school teachers clad in colorful costumes, based on the local legend “Kulakog”, a legendary giant that once roamed Minalabac, and the legend of the Quiriaon bell during the Spanish era.

The festival aims to:

  1. promote the traditional agricultural products of the town -- palay, abaca, coconuts and seasonal vegetables
  2. showcase its pristine beaches in the villages of Bagolatao, San Antonio, Salingogon and Hamorawon.
  3. welcome traders in order to promote both local and national products.

This hubber have been involved with the tourism council, including:

  • solicitations coming from the well-off residents of our town who now live abroad but still connect and interact with us through this festival;
  • as unofficial photographer during the pageant night of Miss Buswak 2015(Titles including: Festival Queen, Miss Minalabac and Miss Tourism); and
  • guest exhibitor for the photo exhibit.

Facts about Minalabac

  1. Minalabac is a third-class municipality in Camarines Sur, Bicol, Philippines.
  2. It has a population of 48, 162 people, based from the 2010 national census. The next census will start this summer of 2015 as 45 enumerators/surveyors were selected this March.
  3. The town known for the so-called "Tumatarok ni San Felipe-Santiago" or Young Planters of Apostles Saint Philip and Saint James. It is a dance festival where young boys aged 10 to 12 years old performed the dance ritual. I have vague memory of this, but I was once involved in this socio-religious activity.
  4. It comprises of twenty-five (25) barangays or villages, namely:
  • Antipolo
  • Bagolatao
  • Bagongbong
  • Baliuag Nuevo
  • Baliuag Viejo
  • Catanusan
  • Del Carmen-Del Rosario (Poblacion)
  • Del Socorro
  • Hamoraon
  • Hobo
  • Irayang Solong
  • Magadap
  • Malitbog
  • Manapao
  • Mataoroc
  • Sagrada (Sagrada Familia)
  • Salingogon
  • San Antonio
  • San Felipe-Santiago (Poblacion)
  • San Francisco (Poblacion)
  • San Jose
  • San Juan-San Lorenzo (Poblacion)
  • Taban
  • Tariric
  • Timbang

5. The main summer beach destinations include the pebble beach in Bagolatao and sand beach in Hamoraon. There's a private beach in Salingogon offering comfort and amenities for personal rendezvous. Meanwhile, San Antonio beach is yet to be tamed since its big stones also attract handful of beach-goers.The growing number of resorts (privately-owned or barangay-assisted ones) offers amenities such as cottages, videoke, rest houses.

6. A Shell Museum is now situated at Barangay Bagolatao and ready to be perused and visited by interested local and foreign tourists.

Where is Minalabac, Camarines Sur, Philippines?

Would you like to help me put our town on the Map of World's Top Tourist Destinations?

How Municipal & Barangay Officials, Educators and Students participate in Buswak 2015?

The Minalabac Tourism Council considered the participation of teachers and students abig triumph for the Buswak Festival.

Teachers provided coaching and advisory participation and activity-launching, through:

  • short video filming and editing - about Minalabac's tourism potentials
  • essay-writing contest
  • poster-making contest
  • festival-jingle making contest

Students, both elementary and high school contingents provided participation and exhibition for

  1. Drum, Lyre & Majorette Competition
  2. Military Parade and Exhibition
Scroll to Continue

Barangay Officials and Appointees also saw their participation through fun walk (with the gay-kathon), closing day parade, exhibits, bloodletting, bet-on-your baby, senior citizens' online PhilHealth registration and grand night for Rigodon de Honor.

Activities usually staged/ehibited during Buswak Festival in Minalabac, Camarines Sur

The activities may vary during Buswak Festival but the sequence will be like what I posted here.

Opening ActivitiesMid-ActivitiesClosing Day Activities

Fun Walk

Buswak Festival Queen Coronation Rites

Grand Parade by LGU, BLGU, DepEd


Health Care/Advocacy Programs

Competition like Military Parade, Drum/Lyre/Majorette Competition

Holy Mass Celebration

Gay Marathon (Gay-kathon)

Parade of Patron Saints


Holy Mass Celebration

Opening Day of Trade Fair

Awarding Rites

Photo Exhibit

Dance (Rigodon de Honor,etc.) with Live Band

Difficulties and Successes of Launching Buswak Festival

Since 2007, Buswak Festival is muddied with political bickering and controversies.

As our town's name implied, Mina means mine and labac is all about mud or muddy soil.

But the Tourism Council of Minalabac and the support of the constituents continue to grow each year.

There's no stopping them to launch the festival every year, since it is only two years-shy away for its decade-long celebration.

This year, it was my first to actively participate in the festival.

From time to time, I've been visiting the tourism office for updates.

I had my hands-on with the solicitation and little errands that made me the 'sixth man' for this year's festival.

Our tourism page on Facebook, Minalabacueños for Tourism, Culture and Advocacy with the help of Lgu Minalabac FB page, made more residents aware about the importance of the festival.

It's promotion is very timely since the country is facing the effects of El Niño phenomenon and drew some major exhibitors from nearby towns.

This year's highlight showcased the beauty product line of a local resident who's life was changed as she became a well-off resident of our town.

Remembering the preparation of Buswak 2015

As early as February, 2015, the staff of Mayor's office and the local tourism council presented the draft of the major activities.

Since, there's no approved budget yet, the core group decided to solicit from Minalabac residents (Minalabacueños) from here and abroad, whether it is cash or in-kind of products or services.

There's a post-Valentine dance participated by barangay captains and bingo socials that generated additional fund for the festival.

Social media, like Facebook, greatly helped in promoting the 8th year of the said festival.

There's an underlying incidentals, but it didn't hinder the enthusiasm of the group and their efforts paid out.

This hubber is indebted to...

  1. Minalabac Tourism Council , with Ma. Luningning Albong, Senior Admin. Officer Nenita Villegas-Velarde for allowing me to be part of the 8th year staging of Buswak Festival.
  2. Fellow photo bloggers whose selected photos appeared on this hub.
  3. Wikipedia for providing authentic data about my town.
  4. Online site of sister-town/city Zamboanga (in Mindanao) for sharing our town's data and demographics.
  5. Our town's leader (the mayor),Hon. Nestor A. Villegas who's truly a servant leader (not a political leader) for unselfishly dedicating this sort-ot-thanksgiving festival to the people of Minalabac, especially to farmers and fishermen, whom he created (through an approved municipal ordinance) way back 2007.
  6. Journal Online ( for additional information during the 7th Buswak Festival.
  7. Unnamed Minalabacueños who believe on the authenticity of said festival.

My hometown, Minalabac

I uploaded my composition, Minalabac, via YouTube way back June 14, 2013.

My translation goes this way (as I've written it in Bicol dialect):

Minalabac, my hometown,

Baliuag Nuevo, is where I was born

Here in Camarines Sur, my town is famous

for its ricefields, coconuts and abaca.

When Nana Noning was still living,

She told me about everything,

giving importance to our own's culture

even if you go and work in other countries.

In every occasion in our town,

there are many activities that I like to watch,

There's Tumatarok, which is a sacred tradition

and thanksgiving with Buswak Festival.

In 25 barangays, almost all residents are familiar with each other

and always ready to entertain visitors,

There are delicious foods enticing you to be satisfied

and drinks that will make you drunk.

There's river, ricefields, mountains and the sea

Simple living until you prosper

Life in Minalabac, you'll truly admire.

All of us are truly helping each other

We will overcome any problem

as we evade rumors and intrigues.

Personal Note: I am also indebted to my father's cousin, "Nana Noning", (Leonora Rojano-DyLiacco) the deposed English teacher and prime mover of Bicolano culture. She was awarded an international recognition in literary field due to her poetry books promoting her town.

Minalabac (composed and sung by Ireno Alcala)

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Ireno Alcala


Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on April 03, 2015:

@agusfanani: Yes, my fellow hubber. We have lots of things to offer here in our town when it comes to tourism.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on April 03, 2015:

@MsDora: We always pray that our local leaders will really serve our people and avoid meddling with the local tourism council's mission for their own personal gratification.

agusfanani from Indonesia on April 01, 2015:

What interesting events and you are lucky to have a beautiful hometown like Minalabac with festive occasions held there.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 31, 2015:

I think it is meaningful to celebrate the crops. Buswak Festival sounds fun with the entire community participating. I pray that the politics do not mess it up. An interesting share!

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