Singkamas Festival of San Marcelino, Zambales springs back to life
SAN MARCELINO, Zambales – After a two – year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singkamas Festival, a celebration of the bounty harvest of singkamas (Mexican turnip or jicama) in this town has made a comeback.
The weeklong festivity that started on Feb. 19 culminated on Sunday, Feb. 27, drawing thousands of people from different towns in the province and visitors across the country.
The highlight of the event was the street dancing competition among contingents from seven schools in town who competed for the P85,000 prize for the festival championship, which was won by San Guillermo National High School.
Other activities in the festival included a grand civic parade, a drum-and-lyre competition, a grand ball and balikbayan night, a music festival, and other shows.
The festival, which was launched in 2002, is staged every last week of February and coincides with the town fiesta of San Marcelino.
San Marcelino is a first-class municipality in the province of Zambales and is said to be the home to the juiciest singkamas in the country.
On a normal day, vehicles would stop in the town proper, where all the sellers are lined up, to buy singkamas fresh from the fields in Barangay Linasin.
But Christina Prado, 68, a Singkamas vendor for 20 years, admitted that they were now struggling to sell their products.
“Now, I am just harvesting a few [singkamas] to sell, so nothing gets wasted so much if no one buys them. I am just earning P200 every day from that, sometimes less,” said Prado.
Erlinda Gabrito, 59, another vendor for 37 years, said that the pandemic and the high cost of living today are to blame.
“It’s not the same as before, then the pandemic came, and it was even more difficult. We were not allowed to sell at the height of the pandemic,” said Gabrito.
According to her, a bundle of Singkamas used to cost P30, but it now fetches P100.
“I used to earn at least P1,000 per day, now I would be lucky if I could take home P500,” said Gabrito.
Prado and Gabrito were seen selling singkamas on the day of the festival, and they both hope that the celebration of the festival can also revive their livelihood.
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