Philippine Daily Inquirer



They had him by the tail, but this bull was too much even for three men who joined the annual Rodeo Masbateño Festival in Masbate City on Tuesday. This year’s rodeo festival saw a surfeit of politician­s making the most of the popular event, which runs until April 17.

MASBATE CITY—Under the sweltering heat and festive atmosphere at the rodeo arena here, the opening program of the 23rd Rodeo Festival in Masbate province heated up with three candidates for senator and the wife a presidenti­al candidate sharing the stage.

One after the other, senatorial candidates Win Gatchalian, Roman Romulo and Risa Hontiveros delivered their speeches on the rodeo event’s success, with Hontiveros asking the crowd to vote for her.

Gatchalian joked about how the horse he was riding did not move, prompting the Masbate City mayor to lend her horse for the parade. Romulo did not fail to mention his wife, Shalani, who, he said, was the one actually invited to the event.

Korina Sanchez, wife of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas, went up the stage to greet spectators and mentioned how close the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo was to her husband. Robredo died in a plane crash in Masbate in 2012.

Sanchez’s van, with its doors open, moved slowly while several Masbateños haggled for a selfie with the television personalit­y. She was throwing candies as the vehicle moved.

Maloli Espinosa-Supnet, one of the event organizers, said the senatorial candidates and Sanchez attended the event on their own.

She said she did not expect the candidates to campaign during the opening program.

For 23 years, the rodeo festival endured due to the participat­ion of ranch owners who wanted to promote Masbate’s cattle industry, said ranch owner Edwin Du, 57.

Du has been joining the festival since it started in 1993. On Tuesday, he attended the event wearing a cowboy hat, a bolo tie, a white polo and a pair of pants accented by a cowboy belt with a gold and silver buckle.

Du owns a 1,000-hectare ranch. He started his cattle farm 35 years ago.

Pioneer organizers

Nora Celera Aribon, 88, and Milda Dichoso Medina, 78, are the pioneer organizers of the rodeo festival, which was the brainchild of former representa­tive and governor Emilio Espinosa.

Aribon and Medina, in cowgirl getups, were spectators on Tuesday during the parade of cowboys and cowgirls. They reminisced the time when only a few wore the Western outfit when the province started the festival.

“Now, almost everyone wears cowboy and cowgirl costumes when we celebrate the rodeo festival, showing its popularity among the Masbateño,” Aribon said.

She said Masbate has about 130 ranchers tending more than 40,000 head of cattle.

In the three-day rodeo festival, women, ranch hands, cowboys, students and profession­als compete in different events involving horses and cattle, like bull riding, lassoing, team penning, cattle wrestling, casting down, “carambola” and whip cracking, Supnet said.

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