PHOTOS: Masbate Rodeo's Tough Filipino Cowboys

Masbate Rodeo Cowboys © Nathan Allen



So The Philippines Has a Rodeo...

I have to be honest. I am from the U.S...from the state that held the world's first rodeo over a hundred years ago. This does not make me some kind of immediate expert, but I know a genuine cowboy when I see one. When I heard there was a rodeo in the Philippines, I just imagined a bunch of Filipinos wearing cowboy boots and hats for show.

I mean, how could there be real cowboys in Asia?

Cattle Wrestling @ the Rodeo - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

I only mention this to show how ignorant I really was...because when I arrived at the rodeo, I realized that these guys are not playing around! This is serious business, and these Filipino cowboys are tough!

Yup. Filipino Cowboys are 100% Legit

(Click photos for more info)

Cowgirl Competitions Include BULL RIDING.

You read that right. Rodeo Masbateño has some of the only female bull riders in the world! Of course, they also participate in the lassoing, calf-wrestling, and bullwhipping competitions as well. Clearly, these are not women to mess with.

Cowgirl on Horseback @ the Rodeo - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

A Link To Home

The world's first rodeo was held on July 4th, 1888 - in Prescott, Arizona. Who would have thought that, on a tropical island out in the Pacific Ocean, I would find a direct link back to this small U.S. town…a town my family is actually from, and where we spent our childhoods? It's no wonder I felt so at-home here in Masbate.



Bull Riding @ the Rodeo - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

The Competitions - Man Vs. Beast

Your heart really races as you watch these competitions! It seems that man and beast take turns showing each other who's boss. The first photo seems to show that man has the upper hand...the second shows that he's about to get the horns! Challenging these bulls is definitely not for the faint-hearted.


The Cattle Drive...and "Kapitan Du"

Kapitan Du @ the Rodeo - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

While trying to find a good place to take pictures during the cattle drive, a friendly local waved me down and told me I should visit his house nearby. Of course I agreed - it's part of the magic of travel! You never know who you'll meet - or where you'll end up.


"Kapitan Du", as he is known, is a local artist with an eclectic mix of odds and ends decorating his home. There is even a rabbit running loose there! Truly a one-of-a-kind, his place is located near the cattle pen where the run starts. I'm sure you can ask just about any local about him - he seems like the kind of guy everybody knows!

If you're hungry, make sure you check out "Ham's Cup" coffee shop nearby! It really is a hidden gem in Masbate! Foodies will love it.

"Like" my page to follow along with me! - Nathan

Cattle Drive @ the Rodeo - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis


The cattle drive itself is quite thrilling. The crowds line up along the sides of the road, and the cowboys herd the cattle by on horseback. You never know what will happen...sometimes the bulls get confused and start charging toward the audience, or just turn around and run backwards! They put on quite a show, and the audience loves every minute of it.



Mess With the Bull, Get the Horns

Being a photographer, sometimes I'm not paying enough attention while I try to get the best shots. A few times I put myself in front of a charging bull and had to dive out of the way just in time!


Grand Rodeo Festival Parade

The parade is a lot of fun, but make sure you bring sunblock or an umbrella to keep the sun off you. There aren't too many foreign visitors at the rodeo yet, so the locals seemed very happy to have a guest from out-of-town. I really loved the warmth and hospitality of Masbateños!

(Click photos for more info)

Cowboy Culture in the Philippines

The "cowboy culture" in Masbate is not just for show...being here really is like visiting the scenic ranches of the American west. The people live and breathe this "western" lifestyle...it is very much a part of who they are. From the minute I stepped off the boat in Masbate, it was cowboy hats, boots, and belt buckles as far as the eye can see!


The rodeo even has its own catchy theme song ("Rodeo Masbateño"), and you'll hear it everywhere you go!



It's difficult to find much history about Masbate online, but Governor Vince Revil told me that the cattle was originally given to the Philippines as reparations by the U.S. government. These days, it is commonplace for Masbate youth to grow up riding horses and tending cattle. This shatters all my preconceived notions about life in the Philippines!


More Grand Parade Photos

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Rodeo Activities and Information

Cattle Drive @ the Rodeo - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

The Masbate Rodeo is held every year in mid-April, though the kick-off ceremonies and carnival rides start in late March.


There are many different events and activities each year, so make sure you search for an updated rodeo schedule to plan accordingly.


For me, the highlights were the bull riding, cattle wrestling, and bullwhip competitions. I hear the Street Barn Dance is also popular.


Make sure you check out the live music, food, and drinks at the rodeo saloon / beer plaza.


Masbate has their own spicy black bean version of Adobo, the Filipino favorite. Also be sure to try lechon baka, or slow-roasted beef. Manamit (delicious), as the locals say!



Most people would never expect to find authentic cowboy culture in the Philippines, but  they might also be surprised to learn that Masbate also has (in my opinion) some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! It is also known for being the football (soccer) capital of the Philippines.


Getting To The Rodeo / Where To Stay

For more information about hotels, transportation, and safety, please check my Masbate blog link below. Such a diverse and fascinating province - I'll never forget this place!


- Nathan Allen

Like my page to follow along with me:)  - Nathan

My Masbate blog can be found HERE

Agoda - a partner of "I Dreamed Of This" - Photo by BM Snapshots


Most recent blog: Z Hostel, and the Suprising Tech-Driven Side of the Philippines


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