LAOAG CITY – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte officially opened the ‘Paskuami Ditoy’, the province’s annual series of activities to celebrate the holiday season with the symbolic lighting of the 45-foot Christmas tree in front of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol here on December 9.
Governor Imee R. Marcos who led the countdown to the lighting said: “Tonight, we have much to be grateful for and just as the Christmas narratives say, we give thanks for the harvest…for being spared with the disasters this 2015.”
Veering away from the winter-wonderland theme last year, displays in front of the Provincial Capitol depict a ‘Pasko sa Barrio,’ evoking an Ilocano version of belen (outdoor nativity scene) with vibrant Christmas lights illuminating the front ground of the building.
“We feature in the displays a very Filipino Christmas…with materials made out of indigenous materials…most importantly we have an Ilocano Christmas belen, the first time ever to be displayed here in the province,” Ilocos Norte Tourism Officer Xavier Ruiz said.
He further noted that the displays aim to bring back Ilocanos to the meaning of Christmas as it upholds faith and resiliency.
‘Celebrating Christmas the Ilocano way’
“A great part of our (Christmas) calendar is the celebration of fiestas several towns like Batac, Vintar and San Nicolas,” INTO Head Aianree Racquel revealed.
Illustrating the distinct ways Ilocanos celebrate Christmas, the fifth Tupig Cook-off on December 16 at the Paoay Church Complex will be “bigger and better”, Raquel said.
“For this year, we will not only feature the province’s traditional Christmas rice cake, tupig, but also the various Ilocano cuisines in general, so the event will turn out like a Christmas Food Fiesta,” Ruiz added.
“Organizers from INTO revealed that an important international visitor is expected to grace the event “to experience our unique way of celebrating Christmas in Ilocos Norte specially the process of making tupig,” said Racquel.
He added that “the success of the Tupig Cook-off will ultimately nail Ilocos Norte’s reputation as a food destination as the international visitor who’s coming is the ultimate arbiter in terms of food shows in the world.”
“As more Ilocanos are coming home from abroad during the Christmas season, the Ilocano Migrant’s Monument will also be unveiled on December 18 in honor of their contribution to the province’s economic and social development,” Racquel said.
Meanwhile, the provincial government is opening 200 slots for Ilocano students and out-of-school youth to help work for 15 days in anticipation of the influx of tourists in the province during the holiday season.
It is previously reported that Ilocos Norte’s tourist arrivals reached a 380.64% growth in the past two years.
“We want much for Christmas, indeed, and I’m certain that with your prayers, we will continue to be blessed here in Ilocos Norte,” Marcos said. (John Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)