GRAND CHAMPION – Laoag City’s Pamulinawen Festival
I am really not a fan of fiestas and festivals here in the Philippines. For some reason, I seem to think of it as a nothing more than a gathering of people who don’t really know the value of what they are gathering for. Sometimes, I think they are just there because that’s what happens every year. I’ve been to the Panagbenga festival in Baguio several times as well as the Pahiyas festival in Lucban, Quezon. Several disappointments.
It would be nice if they had booths about the festival or fiesta so that we can learn something about the culture. However, all I see are endless rows of vendors selling fish balls, hot dogs, barbecues, and trinkets. I suppose I am expecting educational booths as well as tents for people to gather and do something together, like dancing, singing, and the like. I see most people just walking around and passing by.
Then one day, I saw this video of the Tan-Ok Ni Ilocano (Greatness of Ilocano) on Youtube. And of all places, it’s from my province, Ilocos Norte. I watched video after video, and I was truly amazed. I thought this was different. Then last week, I was in Ilocos Norte. On Friday, I found out that the festival would happen on Saturday. I took the opportunity to go and see this great event live. And it did not disappoint. It truly was amazing. Sorry Panagbenga. Sorry Pahiyas. I much prefer this one: Tan-Ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals.
This festival was spearheaded by the artistic Governor of Ilocos Norte, Imee Marcos. It showcases the unique culture of 21 municipalities and and two cities of Ilocos Norte through dance interpretation. This year’s winner was Laoag City’s showcase of Pamulinawen Festival. To be honest, I thought there were two others who did better based on the judging criteria. New Era’s Tadek Festival showcase or my town’s showcase, Vintar Siwawer Festival, was much better based on cultural interpretation. Laoag City’s and Batac’s showcases were too modern for my taste, since they used jazz and ballet in their performances.
But hey, judge for yourself. To all who would like to see a different kind of festival here in the Philippines, this is a must.
First Runner-up – Nueva Era’s Tadek Festival
Second Runner-up – Batac’s Empanada Festival
Third Runner-up – Vintar’s Siwawer Festival – Coming Soon