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Festivals of North meet in Dagupan

DANCERS represent the Mango Festival of Masinloc, Zambales province, which placed second in the Festivals of the North and in the event’s props competition. WILLIE LOMIBAO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

DANCERS represent the Mango Festival of Masinloc, Zambales province, which placed second in the Festivals of the North and in the event’s props competition. WILLIE LOMIBAO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

DAGUPAN CITY—On Sunday, the main streets of the coastal city of Dagupan in Pangasinan province were venues of live scenes from festivals celebrated in towns and cities of Luzon.

For hours, residents and visitors endured the scorching heat while watching young people in colorful costumes dance on the streets. Big crowds have always turned out every year for the Festivals of the North, said Resty Fernandez, event director.

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As one of the highlights of Dagupan’s Bangus (Milkfish) Festival, the event is a showcase of the festivals in Luzon. “You don’t have to go to their places during their festivals to learn about their respective cultures and products because you can already learn about them here,” Fernandez said.

Featured were festivals of the towns in the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Bulacan and Abra, and the cities of Laoag, Dagupan, Alaminos and San Carlos.

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Dancers portrayed their respective cultural practices and highlighted their communities’ main products or livelihood. “It’s really a learning experience,” Dagupan Mayor Belen Fernandez said.

For instance, the delegation from Dolores town in Abra presented its Sakuting Festival. “Through their presentation, we learned that ‘Sakuting’ is … a mock fight between Christians and non-Christians using sticks,” Fernandez said.

She said she thought of organizing the event when she was vice mayor in 2008. She included it in the Bangus Festival celebration at the time as a way of helping other towns and cities in the region promote their products and cultures.

After launching the festival, Fernandez said she also realized the need to improve the city’s bangus harvest dance, “Gilon! Gilon!”

“As I watched the performers in the festivals in the Visayas, I saw the need for our own dancers to level up,” she added.

In 2009, Fernandez invited the Dinagyang Festival dancers of Iloilo as guest performers in the Festivals of the North. The group won that year the Aliwan Fiesta in Metro Manila.

“Their performance served as our benchmark,” she said. Every year since then, a guest performer from the Visayas was invited.

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This year’s Aliwan Fiesta champion, Manaragat Festival of Catbalogan City, was the guest performer.

The champion of this year’s Festival of the North street-dancing contest, the Bangus Festival contingent from Barangay (village) Pantal in Dagupan took home P400,000.

First runner-up Mango Festival of Masinloc, Zambales, won P200,000, while second runner-up, Halamanan (Garden) Festival of Guiguinto, Bulacan, won P80,000. Pamulinawen Festival of Laoag City and Abel Iloko Festival of Caoayan, Ilocos Sur, won P60,000 and P50,000, respectively.

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