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Twice the Fun: Ilagan Celebrates Mammangi Festival 2023 and 11th Cityhood Anniversary

Ilagan Isabela Street Dancers

2023 Mammangi Festival and 11th Cityhood Anniversary

The last days of this year’s summer season had seen super typhoon Betty (international name, Mawar) making its way through the provinces of northern Philippines. Early on, the country’s designated agency, PAGASA, issued typhoon warning signals all over Northern Luzon, prompting the local governments to suspend tourism activities in their localities.

The weather disturbances had the City of Ilagan, the capital of Isabela, postpone the celebration of their annual Mammangi Festival, which was originally set for the last week of May. The city LGU only pushed through with the celebration in August, the festivities coinciding with the anniversary of the former municipality’s conversion into a component city.

Ilagan Isabela Street Dancers

The City and its Corn Festival

The then Municipality of Ilagan only gained its cityhood after two attempts in the previous years, when the majority of Ilagueños finally voted “yes” in a plebiscite held on August 11, 2012. The previous bids were shelved due to the townsfolk rejecting the cityhood in 1999 and when the renewed bill did not go through in 2006 due to the former town mayor’s assassination.

The City of Ilagan is the country’s biggest component city, with a land area of 1,166 square kilometers spread throughout its 91 barangays. As soon as we entered the city’s welcoming arc, icons of corn became a staple sight. From tiny street embellishments to the city’s giant landmarks and spacious parks, these ubiquitous corn symbols signify Ilagan’s unique agricultural stature—the country’s corn capital.

Maize production was noted as a major farming activity among the Ibanags, the city’s earliest ethnic inhabitants, long before the conquistador Juan de Salcedo explored the Cagayan Valley region in 1856. Being engaged for centuries up to the present, Ilagan is now acknowledged as a corn basket; the country’s Agriculture department conferred the title “Corn Capital of the Philippines” to the city, apparently in keeping the ancestral industry amidst its progress to modernity.

To honor the corn farmers who serve as the foundation of Ilagan’s economy and reputation, the City of Ilagan institutionalized Mammangi Festival in 2011 as the town’s official festival. “Mammangi” is an Ibanag word meaning “corn farmers,” but it may also refer to the activities involved in corn production, such as the preparation of land,…

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