LAOAG CITY – Following five years of consistent excellence in the Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals, the Municipality of Nueva Era finally bagged the grand championship at the event’s eighth installment last night, February 2, at the Marcos Memorial Stadium in Laoag City.
Nueva Era is a member of the Ilocos Norte Cultural Community (INCC). Since 2013, the town has garnered second place three times, and third place twice – including last year. There was no “Tan-ok” in 2017 to make it coincide with Ilocos Norte’s Bicentennial or 200th Foundation Anniversary.
“Tan-ok” is an annual gathering of town and city festivals of Ilocos Norte performed onstage. Twenty-one towns and one city competed this year, portraying the diversity of stories, rich history, and distinct culture of Ilocanos through dance, music, vibrant props, theatrics, and an accompanying video projected from LED backdrop.
Nueva Era’s championship performance centered on the love story of the hunter Apo-ni-tulao and village beauty Apo-ni-bulinawen, who hold fast to the “tadek” dance as a healing ritual in times of difficulty and to prayer before Kabunian (the mountain goddess). The contingent finished off with a “pakalon” (Tingguian wedding) celebrating the main characters’ safety, love, and reunion.
In addition to the grand prize, they garnered three special awards: Best Festival Music, Best Production Design, and Best Choreography and Direction.
Mayor Caroline Garvida proudly shared, “Daytoy a tawen ket maisangsangayan para kadakami ta nabayagen a gun-odenmi koma nga ikalikaguman ket adda kadakamin ti kampyonato… Ket maipakita mi no ania dagiti kinabaknang nga adda kadakami nga Ili ti Nueva Era, kultura man or ti kinabaknang ti aglawlaw, ken kangrunaan na ti kinabaknang dagiti tattao: ti nasayaat a panggep ken nasasayaat a kakagalad ti maysa a taga Nueva Era ken maysa a taga Ilocos Norte.”
(This year is a cause for our celebration because we have been aiming for the championship for the long time, and it is finally ours… And we have shown our wealth as Nueva Erans, whether cultural or environmental – especially our wealth of people: the good deeds and true virtues of people from Nueva Era and Ilocos Norte.)
“Since nangrugi ti ‘Tan-ok,’ 110% ti ititedmi a suporta iti LGU [local government unit]… talaga a mapmapankami ken Mayora… [tapno] maipangato ti confidence da kas cultural minority… Kayatmi ipakita a ti Ili mi, uray man bassit nga Ili ket adda potential na… Saan laeng a simple panggep iti festivity daytoy, ‘di ket maipanggep iti tao ken prinsipio ti maysa nga Ili ken sangkailian,” added Vice Mayor Aldrin Garvida.
(Since ‘Tan-ok’ started, the LGU gives 110% support… me and Mayor Caroline really visit their rehearsals… in order to boost their confidence as a cultural minority. We want to show that our town, though it may be small, contains potential… This is not just about a festivity, but about the people and principles of our town and community.)
At second and third place were the La Virgen Milagrosa Festival of Badoc celebrating the provincial patroness, and the Empanada Festival of the City of Batac highlighting the tradition and innovation behind the classic Ilocano dish.
Badoc’s Christian Cave Cainglit was recognized as Best Male Performer. Batac also garnered the award for Best Video Presentation and Best Female Performer through Ms. Judelea Pucan.
Meanwhile, the five runners-up were the Kangayedan Festival of Pagudpud; the Ginginubat Festival of Adams, the 2018 “Tan-ok” champion; “Ritritemon, Kayong!” of Sarrat; the Abuos Festival of Banna; and the Siwawer Festival of Vintar.
Winners were decided according to story, performance, choreography, production design, and originality.
Senior Board Member Matthew Marcos Manotoc shared, “We have so many stories to tell… not just in these performances, but also the stories behind the scenes – the sacrifices of every participant, not just the performers; the livelihoods that ‘Tan-ok’ creates; individuals who’ve grown more confident; youth who’ve found their passion in the arts – these are just part of the vast positive impact of ‘Tan-ok.’
“Seeing tonight’s crowd is proof that despite the changing times, we stand together… Daytoy ti makunkuna a ‘tan-ok ni Ilocano!’” (This is what we mean by ‘the greatness of the Ilocano!’)
Theater veteran and film director Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso chaired the Board of Judges. He was elected president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 2017, after serving seven years in the Board of Trustees.
Alongside Lizaso in ranking each performance were Ms. Marie Venus Tan, chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board; Rev. Fr. Harold Rentoria, commissioner for cultural heritage at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA); and Mr. Childe Libertad, president of the Philippine Folk Dance Society Region I.
Also joining them were Mr. Rommel Serrano of the Kalilayan Folkloric Group; Mr. Lyle Eymard Villahermosa and Mr. Jhunnard Jhordan Cruz of the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group; Mr. Japhet Mari Cabling of the UP Dance Company; and Mr. Armando Sta. Ana and Ms. Allenmarie Alejo, tourism officers of Malolos City and San Juan City, respectively.
Kyle Jennerman, the Canadian travel blogger behind “Becoming Filipino,” also sat among the “Tan-ok” judges.
The eighth “Tan-ok” highlights the 201st Foundation Anniversary of the Province of Ilocos Norte.