The Rodeo Masbateño Festival was conceptualized in 1992 by a group called MAKUSOG. The inaugural festival was launched in 1993 during the tenure of Emilio Espinosa Jr. as governor. Originally known as Rodeo Filipino, it was renamed to Rodeo Masbateño Festival around 2000 or 2001. On September 2, 2002, then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 120, declaring Masbate as the rodeo capital of the Philippines.
The festival is a tribute to the people working in livestock raising in the province. It was organized to bolster the profile of the province as a tourist destination and to revitalize its flagging cattle industry. The festival showcases skills in livestock handling, such as lassoing, wrestling, and riding cattle. It also includes a fair and exhibitions and trade of cattle and horses.
Cattle Industry in Masbate
Masbate’s cattle industry dates back to the centuries-long Spanish colonization. The province is suitable for cattle with its wide terrains, grass diversity, and climate. In the 1880s, five percent of its total land area were utilized for cattle and in 2015 it increased to forty percent. The province had about a 130 ranchers with more than 40,000 heads of cattle according to a 2015 news article.
The Rodeo Masbateño Festival is more than just a celebration; it’s a testament to the resilience and hard work of the people of Masbate. It’s a symbol of their love for their land and their livestock. As the festival continues to grow in popularity, it serves as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines and its unique blend of East and West.