Pagsanjan, Laguna, a small town 101 kilometers south of Manila via South expressway, has always been known for its majestic Pagsanjan Falls, thus dubbed as the tourist capital of Laguna. This natural wonder is accessible by an exhilarating boat ride through the river bearing the town’s name. The falls itself is a view to behold- with its majestic water cascading down through the rushing rapids. Many would tend to think that, having been endowed with this natural water resource, it is attraction enough to lure tourists to visit this town. Contrary to this belief, this town has a lot more to offer, foremost is the Bangkero Festival.
Making the most of its foremost attraction-Pagsanjan Falls- and its human resource-its boatmen, the Bangkero Festival was launched in May, 1999 as a showcase for the bravery of its boatmen (bangkeros).
The Bangkero Festival was conceptualized in honor of the people who has worked hard to present the world their hometown’s natural wonder. Not minding the strong river current, these boatmen carry people to the site of the famous waterfall. It is just apt that the city government gives tribute to them through the Bangkero Festival.
The 5-day festival opens with Best Bangka Presentation, Best Float and Street Dancing. This activity is a contest for decorated boats and floats being paraded through the town’s main thoroughfare while the street dancing is a parade of students from different schools donned in colorful and attractive costumes swaying to the beat of upbeat music.
The second day of the festival highlights the regatta or Krera ng mga bangka. The third day showcases the contest for the Best Decorated Gantungan (Boat Garage) and Cleanest Pampang. On the fourth day of celebration, a search for Ginoong Bangkero (Mr. Boatman) is held and on the last day of the celebration, the much awaited Fluvial Parade, Best River Float, Most Attractive Bangka and Search for Lakan at Hiyas ng Pagsanjan serve as the fitting culminating activity.
Now, preparing for its seventh year, Pagsanjan’s Bangkero Festival has really gone a long way…owing its success to the joint effort of the municipal government and the local townspeople.