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Niyog-yugan Festival of Quezon is a winner

  • Written by Lito Cinco
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 403

I WILL take  a break from sports now after  I took an overnight break last weekend  in Lucena City  for the  fourth Niyog-yugan Festival, a  winner of a festival  if ever I saw one.

The invitation to cover the event came from Department of Tourism’s Region IV-A Regional Director Rebecca Labid, an old friend of mine in the tourism industry.
The  week-long  festival came to a close last Sunday  and  our media group was  there Friday and Saturday  in time for the Bb. Niyog-yugan held at the Quezon Convention Center.
The parade of 18 floats and street dancers, and the  most impressive for me, the 39  booths in the agri-tourism festival, after all, the 39 municipalities and cities that participated had millions of reasons to be creative with their respective booth designs  as  P3M was allocated as the top prize  for  that category, and another P3M  for  the overall champion’s prize.
And they overdid themselves in  coming out with those native booths located at the Old Capitol grounds and  that sold all sorts of things, the  towns’ products, mostly foodstuffs like suman from Infanta, dried fish, longanisang Lucban, sinantulan, achara,  coco sugar, virgin coconut oil, all sorts of jams and jellies, coco jam on top of the list, lambanog, fresh vegetables, and even unique native Christmas decorations.
I bought a few, in fact, while the provincial government, headed by Gov. Jay-jay Suarez,   gave us  a bayong  full of local products.
I do  not know if  Infanta won  in the booth design with its giant and very realistic-looking half-opened  coconut on  top of the booth but  it was my bet.
The float design winners   were Calauag, Quezon, and Pagbilao, while Bb. Niyog-yugan, Athisa Manalo, came  from  Candelaria.    Too bad we did not have enough time to do a one on one with her as  that would  have been the highlight of  my visit to this southern  city, just three to four hours away from Manila, depending on what time  you leave Manila.
A text message confirmed that indeed, Infanta won in the category A followed by Tagkawayan and Gumaca while in Category B, winners were Buenavista, Padre Burgos and Sampaloc.
The  idea of coming up with a  coconut festival came from then Cong.Aleta Suarez in 2012 and was supported by the  governor  with the  objective of reviving the  coconut industry in  this province, considered as the coconut capital of the Philippines with an estimated 45 million nut bearing trees plus another 10 million  senile trees.    
The nut bearing ones produce around two billion nuts annually from the 389,000 hectares planted with this tree of life, this we learned at the media  briefing held  with  Cong. David Suarez, the governor’s father ,  tourism officer Jun Bay, and the  provincial agriculturist Roberto Gajo.
In the festival’s short  history so far after starting off as a simple agri trade fair, from a total sales of P2.9 M in 2011, this year, in just the first six  days sales was over 10 million already  and by the time the event ends, organizers are looking at  P12.7  million sales.
And  if you were there, it  is easy to  believe as the crowd on  the two days we were there were all buying and buying  at the different  booths. If last year, an estimated 200K people visited  the fair, this year, the first five days  already recorded  close to 200K, meaning  the attendance record will surely be broken.
And as early as now, I am already planning a  return  trip with my family for a short vacation there at the same time that I would like to do a special feature on the province’s manganagrits, never mind who are those, just wait for my piece on  them, should prove to be an interesting one that would show part of the Filipino culture.
In a long  chat with the DOT regional director , we  also talked about the other attractions in Quezon, and to my surprise, in CALABARZON area which she handles, Quezon is on top of the list in annual  tourism arrivals as Kamay ni Hesus alone  attracts seven million visitors during Holy Week, not to mention the  devotees who flock to the other side, Mt. Banahaw, my beloved mountain, while in the region, Japanese top the list of foreign visitors together with Koreans, Chinese, Americans, and Thais.
Among others, Rebecca, or Becky  as how she wants to be called, shared  DOT’s directions  now, which is to promote equally  both the developed and   the developing, and those in the unbeaten paths as yet and she  admitted that Quezon alone offers  a lot of unbeaten paths to places like the Polillo Group of Islands where she says there is always an unexplainable beauty in different islands --  Jamalig Island with its golden  sands, Alabat in Perez with its yet untapped waterfalls and caves, surfing in Real, Infanta for foodies who go for sea foods, crabs in particular, and a lot of other places.
As far as Becky is concerned, all the festivals in the  region promote  or integrate  the Filipino culture, arts, and heritage and that is her philosophy as she continues promoting her region.
On the side, I learned that  all regional directors have been  asked to submit  courtesy resignations. I just hope that  the new government takes  cognizance of the performance of each  RD and not make a sweeping  change among the  incumbents, there are performers who regardless of who is the  President, deliver good work for their respective regions, and not for anything else.
I  believe  Beck belongs to  that list, mind you this   is not a solicited or requested statement.
In fact,  on Day 1 of our visit  to Lucena, the group was brought up to the Atimonan Zigzag Park, where  you pass the dreaded Bituka ng Manok road popularized  during the old Tour of Luzon days.
The park will serve as a showcase of  different organic herbal and medicinal plants that the province has decided to develop, among these are lemon grass, lagundi, and turmeric, according to provincial agriculturist Walter Dapla.
The government will also support in terms of providing processing centers for the  raw products. Additional picnic huts will also be constructed in the park.
Oh, there was a sports component in the festival as there was a triathlon held  that lured  around 100 participants  and afterwards, after visiting  the booths at the trade fair, posted photos  in their FB pages that resulted to more awareness for the festival.
And if I  were you, next year, you could already plan  to visit  Lucena and see for yourselves  what I am talking about when it comes to the Niyogyugan Festival.