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Travel & Food

5 Reasons Why Sandugo Festival Should Be Your Next Cultural Adventure

The Sandugo Festival, celebrated every July in Bohol, commemorates the treaty of friendship between Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna.

 

Today, Boholanos welcome visitors with the same warm hospitality. You’re invited to join the month-long festivities—from the colorful parades to the hearty feasts.

 

Learn more about the Bohol festival’s history, and why you should make it your next travel destination.

Discover the Meaningful History of Sandugo Festival

Juan Luna’s painting El Pacto de Sangre (The Blood Compact), oil on canvas, 1885.

Juan Luna’s masterpiece, El Pacto de Sangre, captures the historic blood compact and its message of peace and diplomacy.

Image Credit: Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia of FIne Art

The Sandugo Festival commemorates the blood compact or "sandugo" between Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Boholano chieftain Datu Sikatuna.

 

The two leaders mixed drops of their blood in a single cup and drank it together. The ritual symbolized their mutual trust and cooperation.

 

The blood compact took place on March 15, 1565. However, Bohol celebrates the Sandugo Festival in July to coincide with its founding anniversary. During Spanish rule, it was part of Cebu. It became an independent province on July 22, 1856, after an 85-year revolt.

5 Best Reasons to Attend Sandugo Festival

During July, Tagbilaran holds a variety of activities exploring different aspects of Bohol culture. Choose from festive dances to food and shopping events—there’s something for everyone!

1. Enjoy Bohol’s biggest street parade.

Sandugo festival performer in traditional costume raises a cup that symbolizes the blood compact.

Aside from dances, the street parade incorporates historical reenactments of the blood compact between Sikatuna and Legazpi.

Image Credit: Bohol Sandugo Festival Facebook

Make sure your phone is fully charged because you’ll want to take lots of photos and videos of the parade. You’ll see elaborate floats, traditional dances, and dramatic reenactments of the blood compact.

 

There’s more. In the afternoon, the parade transforms into a street dancing competition. Performers in flamboyant costumes vie for the best choreography and props.

 

Want a sneak peek of the parade? Watch this clip of the best performance from the 2023 festival.:

 


Travel tip: Get the best view of the action! Arrive early, then use strong internet connection to trace the parade route on Google Maps and find a good spot.

 

Get the details:

 

  • Date: July 22, 2024. The parade of floats starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 12 nn. The street dance competition starts in the afternoon.
  • Location: The parade kicks off at Carlos P. Garcia Avenue and ends at Carlos P. Garcia Sports Complex.

2. Enjoy a feast and free concert at Sandugo Fusion Nights.

Caterers standing in front of trays filled with food at Bohol’s Fusion Nights market.

Fusion Nights offers a wide selection of dishes from popular restaurants, hotels, resorts, and caterers.

Image Credit: Bohol International Fusion Nights Facebook

Can’t pick a restaurant? You don’t have to! Sandugo Fusion Nights brings together dozens of dining establishments in one venue.

 

Find local specialties, international dishes, kid-friendly meals, and pastries you can bring home. As you dine, enjoy live performances by bands and other up-and-coming local artists.

 

Travel tip: Take a cab or book a Grab instead of renting a car. Parking is difficult, and the nearest streets are “pedestrian only” during peak event hours.

 

Get the details:

 

  • Date: July 15-August 10, 2024. Opens at 5 p.m.
  • Location: Bantawan (Old Tagbilaran Airport)
  • Fees: Entrance is free.

3. Buy local goods at bargain prices at Sandugo Agri-Fair.

Shoppers at a stall filled with bananas and other produce at  Sandugo Agri-Fair.

The price of vegetables ranges from ₱40 to ₱60 a kilo, much lower than typical supermarket or wet market rates.

Image Credit: Department of Agriculture Special Area for Agricultural Development (DOA-SAAD)

The annual event supports local farming cooperatives and micro-businesses.

 

Buy fruits and vegetables at a fraction of their price at tourist spots or markets. They’re freshly harvested and delivered straight from local farms.

 

Other stalls sell local delicacies like rice wine, banana chips, and longganisa—perfect for pasalubong.

 

Travel tip: Most vendors will accept cash or GCash. You can also ask them to pack the items for check-in at the airport.

 

Get the details:

 

  • Date: July 15 – 19, 2024. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Location: Bantawan (Old Tagbilaran Airport)
  • Fees: Entrance is free.

4. Discover native arts and crafts at Sandugo Trade Expo.

Woven baskets, books, and decor in a stall at the Sandugo Trade Expo.

The trade fair features over 100 exhibitors accredited by the DTI. All items use local, sustainable materials.

Image Credit: Philippine Information Agency

Discover a treasure trove of artisan goods and local crafts from over 100 merchants. You can find clothes, accessories, souvenirs, serving ware, and decor. All items are made of sustainable materials and are export-quality.

 

Travel tip: Grab the chance to buy high-quality baskets and woven goods. Bohol municipalities like Antiquera are famous for their basketweaving industry.

 

Get the details:

 

  • Date: July 17-22, 2024. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Location: Island City Mall, Rajah Sikatuna Ave, Tagbilaran City

5. Visit a shrine designed by a National Artist.

The sculpture of Sandugo Blood Compact by Napoleon Abueva.

Abueva designed the sculpture, so visitors could view it from all sides and feel they are part of the celebration.

Image Credit: National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures in the Philippines

History buffs and art lovers must visit the Sandugo Shrine. It features life-size bronze statues crafted by Napoleon Abueva, National Artist and “Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture.”

 

The sculpture captures the moment when Datu Sikatuna and Miguel López de Legazpi sealed the blood compact. The tranquil backdrop of the Bohol Sea emphasizes the sense of hope and peace.

 

Travel tip: If you’re traveling with kids or have a tight itinerary, book a city tour that includes the shrine, National Museum, and other cultural spots. You’ll enjoy a comfortable ride, and the guide can share interesting facts.

 

Get the details:

 

  • Location: Barangay Bool, Tagbilaran City (half a kilometer away from the city proper)
  • How to get there: Rent a car or tricycle and take the Tagbilaran East Road from Tagbilaran City.
  • Opening hours: 24 hours

Tips for Planning Your Trip

View of Bohol Sea from the pool area of Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel.

After exploring the city, sit back and enjoy Tagbilaran’s stunning ocean views.

Image Credit: Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel Facebook

Planning to attend the Sandugo Festival in Bohol? Find out more about travel costs and places to stay.

Transportation

  • Plane fares. Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific Air, and AirAsia Zest offer multiple flights from Manila to Tagbilaran City. Ticket prices range from ₱3,500 to ₱6,000 depending on the airline and booking dates. 
  • Ferry fares. If you’re traveling between Cebu and Bohol, rates range from ₱350 to ₱500.
  • City transportation. Car rentals cost about ₱2,500 for small cars to ₱4,500 for SUVs.  Motorcycle rentals start at ₱800 a day. You can also use public transportation.

Hotels

  • Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel
    Enjoy the ocean view while swimming in the large infinity pool. Rooms start at ₱2,600 a day.
    VP Inting Avenue, Bool District, Tagbilaran City; (038)427-1237 or (917)654-7217.

  • Darunday Manor
    On a budget? This clean hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city and has rooms starting at ₱1,400 a day.
    22 J. A. Clarin St., Tagbilaran City;  (038)412-2512, (939)287-5670, or (916)716-2983.

  • Bohol Ecotel
    If you’re going with friends, this hotel has “dorm-style” rooms with five single beds. It’s within walking distance of malls and transportation hubs.
    Hontanosas St. Extension, Poblacion 3, Tagbilaran City; (038)502-0442, (961)796-7476, or (927)086-7039.

Plan your Sandugo Festival trip early, so you can take advantage of lower flight and hotel fees. Use Globe’s fast, reliable internet connection to compare deals and book your slots. Explore different prepaid promos and postpaid plans . Need more data during your trip? Use the GlobeOne app, which you can easily download from the Apple App Store or Google Play, to manage your load or upgrade your plan.

 

Get a head start on your other travel plans! Check out the list of Philippine festivals for the whole year.

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