Sandugo Festival 2015: Commemorating the Historic Blood Compact of Bohol

Blood Compact Reenactment - Sandugo Festival 2015

Governor Chatto and Mayor Yap as Sikatuna and Legazpi, respectively, during the Blood Compact Reenactment.

Every month of July, Tagbilaran City – the provincial capital of Bohol – rouses for a festive celebration called the Sandugo Festival, commemorating the historic sandugo or blood compact between Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and local chieftain Datu Sikatuna on March 16, 1565. A traditional way of forging alliances between pre-colonial Filipino leaders, the sandugo was executed by drawing blood from the left arm of both leaders with a dagger and adding a few drops into a cup of wine, which is finally consumed by both parties. A tableau of this historic event is immortalized at the Blood Compact Shrine by National Artist Napoleon Abueva – a popular stopover on the standard tourist circuit around southwestern Bohol.

Sandugo Festival 2015

Tagbilaran City contingent climaxes with a “sandugo” pose.

Sandugo Festival 2015

BISU dancers in flamboyant mardi gras-style costumes.

Bohol’s sandugo is considered as the first international treaty of friendship in the Philippines. To formally open the street dancing competition held last July 26, a reenactment of the historical event was performed by no less than Governor Edgar Chatto and Tagbilaran Mayor Baba Yap playing Sikatuna and Legazpi, respectively. I was able to attend this year’s festival courtesy of a media tour arranged by the Bohol Provincial Tourism Office, AirAsia and Henann Resort Alona Beach – the newest and largest luxury resort in Bohol! (Read about my three-night resort experience here.) Among the participants of the tour were bloggers Jonel of Seats for Two, Marjorie of Woman in Digital, Chuckie of ChuckieDreyfus.ph, Aileen of The Tummy Traveler and Monette of Out of Town Blog.

Sandugo Festival 2015

The street dancing parade flows through the main streets of Tagbilaran City.

Sandugo Festival 2015

The Baclayon contingent features their famous town church and dancers in folksy attire.

Several activities are held throughout the month-long festival, including beauty pageants, song festivals, street parties and cultural and variety shows. Of course, the highlight of the Sandugo Festival was the street dancing. As a media guest, I had all-access coverage of the parade, getting to observe and shoot along the route and at the CPG Sports Complex Grandstand, where all eight contingents performed their finale to cheering crowd of thousands who rooted for their own groups.

Sandugo Festival 2015

Tagbilaran City contingent highlights the iconic attractions of Bohol province.

Interestingly, the street dancing also incorporated the tourist attractions and livelihood of their hometowns. The Baclayon contingent featured their famous namesake church as a backdrop, while the Tagbilaran City contingent showcased the province’s iconic tourist draws, such as the Chocolate Hills, Philippine Tarsier and Loboc River Cruise. The dancers were garbed in multi-colored folk and mardi gras-style costumes. Naturally, all the dance groups featured the reenactment of the sandugo as a preamble or climax to their energetic performance. The winning contingents were from Bohol Island State University (BISU), Tagbilaran City and Baclayon.


For more information about the Sandugo Festival, visit the Bohol Tourism Facebook page or contact +63 9985663922 or +63 9154352736.

11 comments

  1. What a colorful festival! We would definitely love to take part of this, but we’ll leave the dancing part out. We don’t know how to dance. Heheehe!

  2. thekimsioco says:

    Wow! me and my friends are planning to attend this next year. This is such a great blog post! Thank you, sir!

    BTW, your writing style reminds me of Hannah Reyes. hihi.

    • eazytraveler says:

      Hi Kim, thanks for dropping by! I’m glad you enjoy my work and compare me to the likes of Hannah Reyes. Happy travels!

  3. Ako. I am willing to do the dance LOL! Beautiful photos and words. Keeping in mind Sandugo Festival of Bohol happens every month of July. (actualy writing it down)

    Really want to visit next year!

  4. Jeff says:

    Philippines festivals are definitely the liveliest the most colorful. Have heard Sandugo Festival for a couple of times already and absolutely will attend next year’s event. Hopefully. 🙂

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