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Quezon island towns brace for booth competition in Niyogyugan Festival

Quezon Gov. David Suarez (center in green shirt), Undersec. Arturo Boncanto of Dept. of Tourism, Alona partylist Rep. Anna Villaraza-Suarez, Vice Gov. Sam Nantes, and Quezon mayors at the ceremonial cutting of ribbon during the formal opening of Niyogyugan festival. 

by John A. Bello

The island municipalities of Burdeos, Polillo, Panukulan and Jomalig are among the 37 municipalities and 2 cities vying for booth competition in Niyogyugan Festival 2018 whichbegan on Aug. 9 and run up to Aug. 20.

Booth competition has been the centrepiece of this event, dubbed as ‘Festival of Festivals in Quezon’ since it started in 2012. For this year, only San Narciso and San Francisco in the province’ 3rd District called Bondoc Peninsula, did not make it to the competition although both had been participating in previous staging of the festival.

“We used ninety percent byproducts from the coconut tree to build our booth which took us more than a month to construct in our island town in Burdeos and 10 days to set up here in the provincial capitol grounds,” said Jun Boniel, secretary to Mayor Freddie Aman and tourism-in- charge of their municipal government, in an interview inside their booth while buyers casually go in and out to check out their native products.

Niyogyugan festival at night.
He said they have not yet won from the booth competition since the festival started 6 yrs. ago and they are not hoping much for it this time.

“Pinagkasya lang namin sa gastos ng paggawa ng aming booth iyong subsidy ng province na P70,000 pero nagpaparticipate kami yearly para i-showcase ang products namin,” Boniel simply said.

Honeylet Almirez, a tourism employee of the municipal government of Polillo, takes pride in the seahorse-shaped appearance of their booth which cost them P469,000 to build for a month and a half in their town and 6 days to install here.

“Last year ay P170,000 ang gastos namin pagpagawa ng kubo pero ngayon ay pinaganda namin kaya umabot ng ganyan halaga,” she said as she disclosed that architect Nolledo was the one who conceptualized the construction of their booth designed like a seahorse which is plentiful in their island town.

She said seahorse is found in shallow water and finds home in seaweeds called kulafu.

Panukulan municipal agriculture officer Delfin del Rio said that for their booth they used wood parquet materials, coconut splintered shells and dried banana leaves and it cost them about P300,000 to construct for almost a month in their hometown and 10 days to assemble here.

According to the booth description of Panukulan, coconut lumber, tistis, tampok, coconut shells, bamboo, nipa trunk and other locally available materials were used for the construction.

The booth description also disclosed how Panukulan derived its present name from the Tagalog word ‘panulukan’ which means corner as the early settlers like the Dumagats indigenous folks called the place located at the corner of the Panangatan point of the main island of Polillo.

Taking pride of their products

Boniel takes pride of their best-selling products like Sea Chiton ‘Kibit’ chicharon which has no preservatives and sells at P40 a pack. He said that it is the favourite of buyers and they are able to sell 3,000 pieces of it for just a day.

Other saleable products displayed in their booth are espasol (glutinous rice) which sells at P50, nipanog brandy which sells at P180 and is made from nipa tree, not coconut which produces the more well-know lambanog; banana chips at P35; and pakla, a seafood from the family of shrimps which lives in mangrove swamps, and sells at P320 a kilo.

Boniel said they make a daily sales of P25,000 to P30,000 and have already made over P200,000 sales since the festival began.

Almirez said their bestselling item in Polillo is Saging Saksik which earns them a daily income of P7,000-P9,000 a day and there is a daily delivery of 200 to 300 pieces of it every 12 noon. She said its banana cake is priced at P45 apiece to P100 depending on its size.

She said other favourite products for their buyers are sinantolan which is priced at P50 and earns them about P2,000 daily sales. Wild honey, which she said is not cultured, can be bought from P250 to P650 each depending the size of the bottle container; while their nipa lambanog costs P140 a liter.

Polillo island town can be reached after 4 hours of bus ride from here to Real town and 2 hours of boat ride from Real to Polillo.

Like Burdeos, Del Rio said Panukulan also have Chiton ‘Kibit’ chicharon for its bestseller. He said a kilo of dried Kibit cost P1,000 and it is usually boiled, dried then peeled of its skin. Low in cholesterol, Del Rio said it is the best alternative to pork chicharon and a pack of it sells only at P20, P40 and P100.

Del Rio said their average daily sales since the opening of the festival amounted to P16,000 but last Wednesday they have made a sale of P35,000.

Del Rio spoke during the Agri-Talakayan on Tuesday at Araw ng Pamilyang Magsasaka at the Quezon Convention Center here in behalf of Benjamie Bajo, the seaweeds farmer, who made Quezon the number 1 in seaweed production in Calabarzon region.

Huge prizes in booth competition

The booth competition which fetches huge prizes of P3 million, P2 million and P1 million worth of projects for 1st, 2nd and 3rd top winners for the participating municipalties has the following criteria: overall appearance and impact, materials used and craftsmanship, 505; layout and product setting/display, 205; product quality and quantity, 20%; and herbal and edible landscaping which refers to the arrangement of different edible and herbal plants available in Quezon and includes the harmony and compatibility of the plants used to the design of the booth, 20%.

According to Roberto Atrigenio Jr. of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, judging will be done daily with different sets of judges coming from United Architects of the Phils., Dept. of Trade and Industry, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Tourism, National Nutrition Council, business sector and a nongovernment organization.

During the formal opening of the 11-day festival on Aug. 9, Quezon Gov. David ‘Jayjay’ Suarez said that all the participating towns are pouring out their best for the celebration of the Niyogyugan Festival.

“Ang tagumpay ng ating selebrasyon ay dahil sa mga mamamayan ng ating lalawigan na nakikiisa at nagbibigay ng rason para maging matagumpay ito,” Suarez said.

At the Araw ng Pamilyang Magsasaka, Suarez disclosed that on day 1 of the festival, 41,752 flocked to the provincial government complex to look and admire at the various competing booths, buy their native products or simply pose for ‘selfie’. He said on day 6 of the festival, booth sales reached P8 million a day. Last year, he said, 10 days of the festival have earned P11 million from booth sales.

Niyogyugan comes from a 2-word Tagalog combination of niyog which means coconut and yugyog which means shake or dancing. Former Quezon 3rd District Rep. Aleta Suarez, the governor’s mom, is the prime mover of the festival to celebrate the province’ coconut tree as the ‘tree of life’ and the coconut farmers of the province.

The festival this year covered various events such as Araw ng Pamilyang Magsasaka, Teachers’ Convention, awarding of Quezon Medalya ng Karangalan for outstanding citizens, provincial women’s convention, arts exposition, Niyogyugan grand parade featuring young movie actors JM de Guzman and Yassi Pressman, 2 musical concerts with Parokya ni Edgar, floral offering for the late Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon, awarding of booth competition winners, among others.

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