Laoag City bags top prize in Tan-ok Festival viewed by 50,000 spectators

(Last of two parts)
By Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO

“For us, there are really 23 winners. They all deserve to win,” Edna Vida Froilan, chairman of the board of judges, said. Froilan is a former member of Ballet Philippines and resident choreographer of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Her performing and creative career had brought her recognition as one of the leading artists in the Philippines today.

Other members of the judging panel were also esteemed personalities from various fields of arts, such as Floy Quintos, an awarded theater, TV and event director; Dexter Santos, a notable choreographer and theater director; Ohm David, a resident designer of Dulaang UP and faculty of the department of Theater Arts in UP Diliman; Prof. Estrelleta Navalta-Corpuz, president of the Philippine Folk Dance society (CAR chapter and college professor in the Institute of Human Kinetics, Benguet State University; Junjet Primor, artistic director of the Sinulog Festival of Cebu City; and Jeremiah “Maia” Carandang, one of the founders of the five-time dance champion in the world, the Philippine All-Stars.

Ilocano stronghold

Over 50,000 spectators filled up the bleachers and the huge space outside the stadium to watch the performance live and on projector screens respectively, the biggest figure so far since the festival’s inception in 2011. The Ilocos Norte Provincial Police Office had to deploy 130 of its members to handle and organize the crowd.

In her speech, Governor Imee R. Marcos said that Tan-ok is one of the many ways of the province in keeping the Ilocano culture alive.

“Ang kultura at sining ay hindi hilig o luho lamang ng mayayaman at matataas kundi hanapbuhay at propesyon ng napakarami sa atin,” she said.

Gov. Imee delineated the creation of a “cultural policy” she had first mentioned during her most recent State of the Province Address. She said that the provincial policy should not only recognize museums and artifacts but rather enable arts spaces, supports school of arts, architecture, literature, history and dance as well as the workers of art.

“We, here in Ilocos Norte, keep alive that culture, making certain that all generations, each one of us will be proud to be Ilocano. Ipinagmamalaki natin ang kakaiba at katangi-tanging kultura ng ating probinsia, kakaiba sapagkat ang tao natin ang tanging kayamanan. The values that distinguish us as a people beyond the artifacts and skills and pioneering spirit that have brought Ilocanos in every corner of the world,” she added.
Nineteen-year old Rochelle Ann Marquez of Laoag City who attended the festival said that she was “happy” that her city topped the competition once again. She said that she sees Tan-ok as “an avenue to learn more and understand the culture of her fellow Ilocanos in other towns.”

“I believe that this is also what’s happening with the rest of the nation. That through Tan-ok, more people will know more about Ilocano culture—that we’re not only all about pinakbet and the Paoay church. We’re also about being hardworking, resilient and united,” Marquez added.#