Dagupan City, the city where I was born and where I grew up is offering a "kaleidoscope of activities, including singing and dancing, cooking and feasting, gastronomic delight, visual treat and games" for all of us this summer- from April 14- May 1, 2010. Dagupan is indeed where the Bangus sizzles!
Here is a glimpse of my article which is published at thepoc.net Buhay Pinoy Features section:
It’s summer in the Philippines! With or without El Nino, it is the warmest season of year and also the period marked by the longest days and the shortest nights. To beat the heat, Filipinos and foreign tourists often go to Baguio City (the summer capital of the Philippines) or to the thousands of beaches scattered across the archipelago. We have 7,107 islands, so we have 7,107 options where to go this summer vacation.
The summer getaway place in Pangasinan this April is a city once known as Nandaragupan -- a popular appellation for a place ‘where people met or gathered.’ Today, that city is now known as Dagupan. Where is Dagupan City? The city government’s official website listed it as about 225 kilometers north of Manila and about 70 kilometers southwest of Baguio City. It is located in the mid north section of the province of Pangasinan and bounded by Lingayen Gulf in the north, the towns of San Fabian in the northeast, Mangaldan in the east, Calasiao in the south, and Binmaley in the west.
Dagupan Bangus Festival
Dagupan City is April’s ‘must visit’ destination and ‘place of gathering’ in time for the celebration of what is called the Dagupan Bangus Festival. The festival is named after the city’s foremost product- the Dagupan bangus (milkfish). Also known as Bonuan bangus or ‘betel’ in the vernacular, it is said to be the world’s tastiest milkfish. The milkfish, by the way is our ‘Pambansang Isda.’
In an email interview, Dagupan City CIO Ryan Ravanzo said ‘that the Bangus Festival was launched in 2001 to court civic pride and the call to excellence has then been translated into commitment and dedication upon which its development as a city is solidly anchored.’
In 2003, the Philippines, thanks to the Bangus Festival, held the Guinness World Record for the longest barbecue grill, beating Peru’s 1999 record of 613 meters long.
Regular festival highlights include the Gilon! Gilon! ed Baley, Festivals of the North street dancing competition, the Bangus Rodeo, Bangus Cookfest and the Bangusan Street Party. This year, the Dagupan Bangus Festival starts on April 14 and ends on May 1.
Gilon! Gilon! ed Baley
Gilon! Gilon! ed Baley (harvesting in the city) is a street dancing extravaganza and competition that depicts and interprets the ‘Gilon’ or the traditional way of harvesting bangus through visual display, graceful gyrations, and well-choreographed group dances using indigenous materials as props. Scheduled on April 23, the street dance competition will showcase the dancing talents of residents of Dagupan City’s 31 barangays and students of the Dagupan City National High School. The winner in this contest will be Dagupan City’s official representative in the Festivals of the North Street Dancing Contest.
Festivals of the North
On April 26, visitors will be treated to the cultural street dance spectacle, where the best festival dancers in the north compete with each other in a single event called The Festivals of the North. With this year’s prizes totaling P500,000, the participants are expected to slug it out in presenting street dancing choreography culled from local folklore and indigenous traditions, culture, and products. At the time of this writing, the following contingents have confirmed their participation: Baguio City, Laoag City, Pinili, Paoay, San Nicolas, San Fernando City, Naguillian, Sto. Tomas (La Union), Anda, Binalonan, Binmaley, Infanta, Lingayen, Manaoag, Sto. Tomas (Pangasinan), Umingan, Urbiztondo, Masinloc. The cities of Laoag and Baguio have registered two entries each. This year’s guests include the 2010 Champion Tribu Taghidaet of the Dinagyang Festival from Iloilo City.
The Bangus Rodeo is a fun-filled showcase of the flourishing bangus-growing and processing industry in the city. Here, contestants compete on who is the fastest bangus deboner, eater, and classifier (according to live weight). The biggest, heaviest and yes, -‘prettiest’ bangus (one that possesses a small head, round belly, good eyes, intact silver scales nd fins) are also selected from entries from all over the bangus-growing coastal communities of Pangasinan province, including Dagupan. Last year, the heaviest weighed 5.6 kilograms while the longest was 89 centimeters long.
The Bangus Rodeo will be held on April 27 at the city’s Malimgas Market and will be featured in ABS CBN’s morning show Umagang Kay Ganda.
Bangus Cookfest (100 and 1 Ways to Cook Bangus)
Bangusan Street Party
The penultimate event in the festival is the Bangusan Street Party, formerly known as ‘Kalutan ed Dagupan’ or barbecuing in Dagupan.
To launch the party, there will be a ceremonial lighting of thousands of barbecue grills on which 3,000 kilograms or 20,000 pieces of the succulent Dagupan bangus will be roasted by Dagupeños and tourists.
The city’s Vice Mayor and event Chair Belen Fernandez vowed to stage a bigger and more exciting Bangusan Street Party this year, consisting of a kaleidoscope of activities, including singing and dancing, cooking and feasting, and games. Bamboo, Parokya Ni Edgar, Rico Blanco, Spongecola, Gloc 9, Chicosci, Callalily, Urbandub, and The Authority are among the the famous bands expected to perform.
The Bangusan Street Party will again be held at the Pantal-Lucao Diversion Road.
Last year, an estimated crowd of 700,000 to one million trooped to the highway for the event.
The Dagupan Bangus Festival culminates on May 1 when the city holds the time-honored Pista’y Dayat (sea festival), a celebration of the bountiful harvest from the sea. It is basically a fluvial parade from Pantal River to the Tondaligan Beach and will be followed by a thanksgiving mass at the Tondaligan Beach.
Other activities are mudwrestling and boxing match and the Dagupan Bodyfest Bikini Open.
Photos by Willie Lomibao