Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals, the grandest Ilocano spectacle in the North

NEWS FEATURE: by Rey T. Arcangel, Jr., PGIN-CMO.



LAOAG CITY – About 30,000 people, including locals, visitors from neighboring towns, and tourists flocked to Ferdinand E. Marcos Stadium, Laoag City on December 6, 2013 to witness the third installment of the grandest Ilocano spectacle in the North, the Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals.

All the 21 municipalities and 2 cities in Ilocos Norte converged in this city to showcase their respective dance festivals reflecting their unique culture whether in products, livelihood, history, religion, tradition, natural heritage or the combination of all.

In her welcome address, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos expressed her joy that for the first time, the event was organized to raise funds for the construction of the new Philippine National Red Cross Ilocos Norte Chapter building in Laoag City.

“For the first time, we are helping to raise funds for the Philippine National Red Cross, for their extraordinary efforts not only in times of calamity, but for the health and safety of our families,” Governor Marcos said.

She thanked PRC Ilocos Norte Chapter for giving contributions and relief goods and materials to areas affected by typhoon Yolanda, particularly Tacloban City which she pointed to have a “special family connection to me and to all of us”.

Invited to sit as new judges in this year’s Tan-ok Festival competition were television celebrities and respected personalities from the world of culture and the arts such as Nestor O. Jardin, the former president and artistic director of Cultural Center of the Philippines; Ronilio Jaynario, artistic director of Philippine Ballet Theater; Rommel Serrano, artistic director, choreographer, and researcher of the Kalilayan Folkloric Group; Fulgencio Coching Follero Jr., associate producer of It’s Showtime and Sexbomb member Aira Bermudez.

Returning for the second time as judges were Josie Guillen, head of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance Division  and Larry Gabao, president of Philippine Folk Dance Society.

All the contingents came up with their own dance interpretations of their respective festivals with their astounding choreography, concept, spectacular props, and surprise acts.

Laoag City, portrayed the sequel of the traditional courtship, Pamulinawen, and with its stellar performance, bested all the other festivals in bagging the title for the second time this year.

The story continued with the rivalry between an Ilocano bachelor and a Spaniard who was also enthralled by the beauty and grace of a young Ilocana. To win her heart, the Spaniard enchanted her with the dreamy music of his motherland, while the Ilocano fought for her with his most powerful weapon, music that flows from the harp of love. This then led to the creation of the Pamulinawen Love Song.

The audience was left in awe with their folk-ballet plus acrobatic dance interpretations, colossal and giant mechanical “kalesa” and cart props.

The show’s biggest surprise, Tadek Festival, a festivity celebrated by the Tingguians of Nueva Era, ranked second. For the first time in the three-year history of Tan-ok, Nueva Era became the only tribal community that topped the competition.

The performers showcased their unique culture through the Tadek, a thanksgiving dance for the new couple that is believed to bring forth blessings and bounty to the whole Tingguian community.

According to Nueva Era Mayor Aldrin Garvida, their presentation focused on their distinct customs and traditions showcasing the rich culture of the Tingguians, refraining from the incorporation of contemporary ideas to avoid confusion.

The Empanada Festival of Batac City, considered the strongest contingent for being consistently on top in all the editions of Tan-ok, notched the third spot.

This year, they focused on the joy and fun in the making and selling of empanada as showcased in their presentation of many dance genres, including ballet, jazz, jive, among others.

Other remarkable presentations included the municipality of Vintar whose performers were flaunted as white, red, and brown siwawers (a legendary bird that symbolizes the townsfolk’s valor); Banna which paraded its adorable ant mascots to showcase the townsfolk’s art of harvesting ‘abuos’ or ant eggs; Pinili with its grandiose presentation of their famous white gold harvest, garlic; Paoay with its 400-year old Guling-Guling Festival which featured the UNESCO Heritage Church of Saint Augustine (Paoay Church) as background; Currimao with its Dinaklisan Festival depicting the glory of fishing using the traditional but earth-friendly daklis; and the gateway town of Badoc with its artistic interpretation of the legendary arrival of the image of the province’s patroness, La Virgen Milagrosa while paying tribute to Badoqueño, and Ilocos Norte’s iconic artist, Juan Luna.

According to Governor Imee R. Marcos, this “festival of the masses” is not just about the Ilocano “sense of pride, unity and greatness” but also an investment for the province’s bounty and potential in tourism.

“This year we are talking about not merely one night of festivals, spectacles, tremendous dancing, we are speaking of an investment for the days and years to come,” Governor Marcos said.

She also added that the event aims to instill what the province stands for and even if sometimes being a Filipino is a confusion, certainly being an Ilocano is clear-cut, emphatic, and proud.#