CANDABA -- Thousands of foreign and local tourists, including well-known political leaders and movie actors in the country, flocked Friday to this town’s “Ibon-Ebon” (Birds and Eggs) Festival.

Candaba is known as a sanctuary to thousands of migratory birds. Its marshlands serve as the birds’ home and stop-over point as it migrate from point to point in Asia and other parts of the globe.

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This year’s celebration highlighting the winged creatures and this town’s egg industry, including its aquaculture sector, was reportedly the grandest ever.

All 33 barangays participated in the float parade.

The two-day festival, which would culminate Saturday, also features bird dance presentations from three Candaba schools and an original, all Candabeño drummers and performers; kite flying contests, cook fests, exhibits and a host of activities promoting bird culture and environmental protection.

“Kakaiba itong third Ibon-Ebon festival natin ngayon at nakita natin na lahat ng tao lumabas. Multiplied sa tatlo iyung delegation at lahat ng sectors, farmers, teachers, parents at ang dami nating bisitang mga local government unit delegations,” said Mayor Jerry Pelayo.

Among those who trooped to the festival’s first day were Vice President Noli De Castro, Senator Ralph Recto, Ilocos Norte Governor Bongbong Marcos, Vice Governor Joseller “Yeng” Guiao, actors Philip Salvador and former Ms. Universe Gloria Diaz-Daza.

In his remarks, Guiao commended the Municipal Government of Candaba for boosting local tourism and plotting the province in the global tourism map.

“We at the Provincial Board are very proud of Koyang Jerry and all of you for making the province a tourism destination. Rest assured the board will always support this festival,” Guiao said.