By Imelda C. Rivero, PIA, Ilocos Sur
VIGAN CITY – The festivals in Ilocos Sur have been the best markets of the native products of the 34 towns and cities of the province.
The festivals that serve as avenues for the display of these products are the two-week long Kannawidan Ylocos Festival and Longganisa Festival both in January, the Binatbatan Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts in May, and the Solidarity Cultural Festival in Vigan City in September.
According to Rosario Quodala of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Ilocos Sur, the sales from the local producers in the province and other participating provinces in the Kannawidan Ylocos Festival reached about P20 million.
Quodala said there were 158 traders from Ilocos Sur and 156 from other provinces. In the province, these included the local government units (LGUs) that built their town booths to showcase their products, like Santa Maria town which won the ‘Best Booth Award’ that featured their production of sugarcane products like molasses, vinegar, balikutsa, and basi or native wine
For the celebration of the 200th foundation anniversary of Ilocos Sur as a province, “balikbayans” were also invited by the provincial government and as expected bought and helped export these products, said Governor Ryan Luis V. Singson.
“The DTI was tapped to help improve and maintain the quality of these products,” Singson said.
Every year, however, during these festivals, residents have noted the improvement of the products such as the turmeric powder of Gregorio del Pilar and the coffee of other mountainous towns of Sigay, Sugpon, and Cervantes.
Appreciating the array of local products at the Kannawidan, Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said that he will file a bill that will help establish the One-Town-One-Product Program of LGUs in cooperation with national government agencies like the DTI, the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Agrarian Reform.
The OTOP was widely promoted during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“It is saddening that good programs such as OTOP are not maintained by the next administration. A law like the one suggested by Sen. Gatchalian will help strengthen the OTOP program, giving regular income to micro, small and medium firms in the country,” Singson said.
Singson added, “To help other LGUs in joining the trade fairs during festivals in the province, the provincial government is continuously urging them to be confident in promoting their own products.”#