“Pantat” or catfish is a fresh water fish abound in the watery rice fields, brooks, rivers and streams in the municipality. Catching “pantat” has become a part of every Zarraganhon’s life. Early in the morning, young and old people would carry nets, fishing poles or bamboo baskets to catch this black slippery fish. They would walk along rice paddies, shouting to their neighbours “mamantat ta!” (Let’s go catch pantat). “Pantat” has quelled the hunger of poor Zarraganhons, who found ingenious ways to make it taste better than any other catfish from other parts of the country. They roast it, broil it, cook it in coconut milk, cook it adobo style or make it into the hot and spicy “linagpang”. “Pantat” has become a staple part of the Zarraganhon’s diet and of the town’s native cuisine. Today, “pantat” growing and selling has become one of the major livelihoods of the people of Zarraga. Pantat hatcheries have been put up as people learn modern and better ways to raise this fish in ponds for commercial purposes. “Pantat” from Zarraga is brought to other cities and provinces in the country. Its name has become so popular that fish vendors would always emphasize that the pantat they sell comes from Zarraga, even if it does not. Just the words, “pantat from Zarraga” makes it more popular than other fishes.




As years go by, pantat industry becomes the number one industry of the municipality. Pantat becomes the leading product and source of livelihood of most Zarraganhons. To express gratitude to the Almighty Creator and the patron saint, St. Isidore the Worker, Pantat Festival was conceptualized.


Year 2003 when Vice- Mayor Gregorio “Rigor” Brazas, Hon. Ariel Carmelo “Bepoy” Plana, Brgy, Captains and other Barangay officials went on a “Lakbay Aral” in Manila and passed by the rest house of Mr. Michael “Binggot” Plana (brother of Hon. Ariel Carmilo “Bepoy” Plana and sons of the late Vice Mayor Augusto Plana) which was located at Tagaytay City. They had witnessed that each town they visited has its own festival and it sparked into the Vice- Mayor’s mind an idea of having a festival. Vice Mayor Brazas strongly endorsed the plan to Mr. Michael Plana and he was committed to support the plan through financial or any assistance he could extend. Upon returning at Zarraga, Vice- Mayor Brazas opened the idea of coming up with a festival with the Municipal Mayor Hon. Delfin “Embong” Silveo, Jr. and the Honorable Mayor strongly supported the plan with Engineer Federico “Tilo” Supapo, Jr. The festival was conceptualized and they decided that Zarraga’s festival would be called “Pantat Festival” to give honour to this black and slippery fish which was abundant in the rivers of the municipality. Vice- Mayor Brazas spearheaded the birth of the festival. He called for a meeting which was attended by the school heads and the heads of different agencies in the municipality to convene and plan out for the things to be done during the week-long festival. Series of meetings took place before they had agreed what activities to pursue during the festival. Minutes of the meetings were presented to the municipal local officials (Hon. Virgilio Casiple, Hon. Tarcila Diestro, Hon. Joel Millan, Hon. Ariel Carmelo Plana, Hon. Fred Pinongcos, Hon. Shirley Millan, Hon. Noel Martirizar, Hon. Remia Sularan, Hon. Rufo Sumido, and Hon. Hannah Mae S. Supapo) and the comments made were positive. They showed support for the said festival together with Zarraga National High School, Principals of the District of Zarraga, other public and private agencies and concerned people of Zarraga. Mr Ananias “Boy” Sortido was chosen to be the Over-all Chairman of the 1st Pantat Festival. Due to lack of financial resources, Hon. Brazas initiated the giving of solicitation letters to come up with an amount for the festival. Finally, through hardships, persistence and cooperation, Pantat Festival was born.


In aiming to promote the different industries, products and local attractions of the municipality, it launched its 1st Panat Festival on December 17-21, 2003. The following activities took place during the 1st Pantat Festival: Lighting of Plaza and Barangay Belen Competition, Composo Singing Contest, Ballroom and Dance Sports Competition, Pantat Cooking Contest, Binalaybay Contest and the Search for Little Miss Christmas. There was also the “Search for Lin-ay kag Ulitawo Sang Zarraga 2003” wherein Richard Pumaren and Gemima Custorio, students of Zarraga National High School were hailed as the first “Ulitawo kag Lin-ay sang Zarraga.” The festival was highlighted by the Street Dancing and the popular and much applauded Pantat Tribe Competition, wherein tribes from four big schools of Zarraga traced the growth of the pantat industry through cultural presentation. The four tribes were Tribu Sinaga of Zarraga Central Elementary School (ZCES), Tribu Sinihod of Sacred Heart Academy (SHA), Tribu Pukot of Don Benjamin Jalandoni Sr. Memorial National High School (DBJSMNHS), and Tribu Halawodnon of Zarraga National High School (ZNHS). Tribu Sinaga’s Tribe Manager was Mrs. Sally Latanafrancia, Principal II of ZCES. The tribe represented the barangays of Ilaya, Ilaud, Malunang, Gines, Sambag, and Tuburan Sulbod. Tribu Sinihod represented the barangays of Inagdangan Sur, Inagdangan Norte, Inagdangan Centro, Dawis Norte, Dawis Sur and Dawis Centro and was managed by Ms. Rose Alberca. The tribe’s name “Sinihod” is one of the methods in catching this black and slippery fish. Tribu Pukot represented the barangays of Pajo, Libongcogon, Talauigs, Tubigan, Balud Liloan and Tuburan. “Pukot” is known as one of the materials in catching pantat. The tribe manager was Ms. Ninfa Parcia, Principal II of DBJSMNHS. Tribu Halawodnon was represented by barangays Jalaud Norte, Jalaud Sur, Balud I, Balud II, Sigangao and Talibong. Its tribe manager was Mrs. Violeta J. Castillo, Principal II of ZNHS. “Halawodnon” means dwellers of Jalaud River which was believed to be the sanctuary of pantat. Pantat Festival was opened through a ribbon cutting ceremony by Gov. and Mrs. Niel D. Tupas, Hon. And Mrs. Delfin Silveo, Jr., Hon. and Mrs. Gregorio Brazas, and Mr. Celso Diokno. The launching of the first Pantat Festival was a success and the festival is celebrated for 14 years already.



Due to the festival’s uniqueness, it attracted a big crowd not only from the neighbouring municipalities but also from other provinces. All are eager to taste the “pantat” of Zarraga, as well as to witness the unique “pantat-inspired” dance steps during the cultural competition. Dancers wearing “pantat” costumes wriggled, crawled, writhed and leaped, portraying the movement of the black, slippery fish underwater. Usually, the story revolves around the concept of catching “pantat.” The value of religiosity is also depicted in the festival. Dancers have worship-like dance steps to express their gratitude towards the Almighty Creator. Moreover, as part of the cultural traditions, the people patronize the existence of the Pantat Festival. Every year, it is refined through colourful and entertaining scenarios that portray the modes of living and values of the people. The different tribes showcase their unique concepts on how the people of Zarraga give importance to the resources given to them by the Creator. Each has its own way of cultivating the true spirit of Zarraganhons through mimicry in dances and steps creating tribal activities with dominant concepts.