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Rodeo Masbateño Festival Boosts Masbate's Economy

The annual Rodeo Masbateño Festival will unfold on March 30 until April 2 with a colorful parade of horse riders, livestock shows, animal health seminars, an agro-industrial fair, a country carnival, and a series of rodeo competitions at the one-hectare permanent rodeo arena in Masbate City.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said, “We are promoting the yearly staging of rodeo events because these attest to the fact that the Masbateños have cleverly and gainfully utilized the pasture lands along most of the mountain ranges and rolling hills, which account for eighty-one percent of Masbate Island. These pastures have been most suitable for ranching and cattle raising, which have become a trademark of Masbate and a major source of livelihood.”

Organized in 1993 by the Rodeo Masbateño Foundation, a group of local ranchers and prominent businessmen, the month-long Rodeo Masbateño Festival has raised the province’s self-esteem as it hosts one of the Philippines’ unusual sociocultural events. It is an opportunity for the public to come and enjoy the different rodeo events, engage in homecoming celebrations, visit more tourist destinations, and explore investment opportunities.

The rodeo showcases the latest techniques in livestock handling skills for ranch and rodeo work. Men and women in cowboy outfits pit their wits and skills in events like lassoing on foot and on horse back, wrestling, the two-person carambola, casting down, bull-riding, load carrying, and bull whipping. The event has attracted a crop of homegrown rodeo artists, as well as the interest of international bull riders and cowboys who compete for prizes during the celebration.

The event has also become a one-stop shop for cattle ranchers, horse breeders, and feedlot operators to present their products and get the best prices. It also provides entrepreneurs with access to new technologies in leathercrafts, mango and cut flower production, aquaculture, handicrafts, and other allied businesses. A trade fair features quality local products made from the coconut trees and other upland crops abundant in the area, as well as by-products of rice, corn, vegetables and root crops gathered from the fertile soil of the plains, which make up only nineteen percent of the region.

Most importantly, according to Durano, the rodeo has become a development vehicle generating more jobs, as well as livelihood and business opportunities in hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and other facilities/services for the people of Masbate. This supports the drive of the DOT to make tourism a major engine for socioeconomic growth, he added.

In recognition of the success of past rodeo events, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Executive Order No. 120 issued in September 2, 2002, declared Masbate as the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, a distinction that greatly contributed to the development of the travel and tourism industry in the island-province. Masbate has likewise been dubbed the Rodeo Capital of Asia, a label strengthened by its affiliation with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association of America and participation in the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas.