Annual ‘Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival’ attests strong ties among farmers, public, others

“The continuous celebration of ‘Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival’ is an indication of our active partnership, collaboration, and unity.”

This was emphasized by PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel N. Del Barrio in his message during the celebration of the 12th Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival held last May 9 in Talavera, Nueva Ecija.

He added that the reason for the sustainable celebration of “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival” is due to the unified efforts of both public and private sectors, national agencies, local and provincial government units, and farmers.

The municipal government of Talavera was this year’s host of the festival. The celebration coincided with the observance of the feast of the town’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, and “Farmer’s Week”.

Dr. Del Barrio, in his address, gave a gist of the PCC’s program and efforts in sustaining carabao production and population in the country and in its pursuit of helping improve the lives of smallhold farming families.

He said the farmers can benefit in tending upgraded carabaos as these are sturdier work animals, better milk providers and meatier sources of food than the native carabaos.

“Once they (the farmers) start milking their carabaos, they start earning daily income. This is what we want all of you to know that there is profit out of dairying. Hence, PCC will continue to sustain its program in order to help many more farmers,” he added.

As an affirmation of the benefits of carabao dairying, Michael Pascual, who once was a tricycle driver and now one of the progressive farmers in Talavera, shared his testimony on how the PCC’s program helped him and his family improve their daily living.

“I can say that carabao raising is indeed a beneficial venture and I think PCC has done its job well in implementing its program. I am one of the many lives that PCC has touched and changed,” Pascual declared.

He added that because of the income from the milk sales, he is now financially able to send his children to good schools, provide his family’s needs, and he even afforded to buy their own car.

In partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the annual “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival” aims to promote carabao’s milk not only for its economic benefits but also for its important contributions to the health and nutrition of small-hold dairy farmers and their families as well as milk consumers in general.

The highlight of the celebration was the ceremonial slicing of the 180 x 112 x 4cm (LxWxH) kesong puti (white cottage cheese), which used 400kg of carabao’s milk prepared by PCC.

As a tradition in every “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival”, representatives from different government agencies and LGUs led the symbolic “tagay pugay” (toast of salutation) with schoolchildren. This gesture was meant to symbolize the recognition of the importance of carabao’s milk in enhancing the health of people who partake of it and its contribution toward improving the economic well-being of the Filipino dairy farmers.

The yearly “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival” is made possible through a technical working group participated in by DTI, PCC, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA) as well as the provincial and local government units.

Meanwhile, the municipality of Talavera, thru the initiative of Mayor Nerivi Martinez, is planning to apply to set a record next year in the “Guinness World Records” for the title “Biggest Kesong Puti in the Philippines”.

Other activities included in the celebration were ecumenical service, trade fair, colorful street dances performed by high school students in Talavera and a special dance number from PCC mascots “Kalaboy” and “Kalagirl”.