Friday, May 15, 2009

The New Flourishes of the Pineapple Festival of Daet

The Pinyasan or the Pineapple Festival, celebrated annually in Daet, the capital town of Camarines Norte in the Bicol Region, southern Luzon, marks a milestone in its 17-year history as the local government of Daet and the Camarines Norte Pineapple Festival Development Foundation launched its first-ever Web site and added a couple of new and major events its lineup of activities.
People from around the world can now access information about the festival and overseas Daetenos can link with each other through the Pinyasan site, or, which was created by MediaTrade Exchange, a media and marketing communications group, and was launched on April 21, 2009. This cooperative venture between the government and private sector hopes to promote the festival through the power of the Internet. The site, which is still in progress, features the latest news, history, pictures, schedule of events and other pieces of information on the festival, which will happen from June 15 to 24.
Aside from the Web site, the Pinyasan Festival this year will be distinctive with the addition of new events. One is the attempt at making a record for the Guinness Book of World Records, which has become sort of vogue for Philippine festivals. Daet will try to gather its citizens to form the longest pineapple chain on June 21.
More significant though is the launch of the fundraising campaign to build the country’s first museum dedicated to the late, great painter and the first National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.
“Amorsolo stayed in Daet during his childhood,” Tito Sarte Sarion, the mayor of Daet, revealed. “We are in the process of gathering the works of Amorsolo that are in Daet. The old municipal hall will be converted into a heritage center, which will house the first ever museum on Amorsolo.”
Other cultural events of the festival include the launching the second edition of the book on the history of Daet, written by Danny Gerona.
The Pinyasan, like most festivals, is a way of also promoting the attractions, heritage and culture of the place. In Daet, for example, the first-ever monument to Jose Rizal was erected. Eventually, all towns in the country have a monument to the national hero.
Sarion added that the week-long celebration’s events all are pineapple-related to be highlighted a street dancing presentation and a parade of floats of pineapple theme, among others, de rigueure of most festivals in the Philippines.
Also, there will be cooking demonstrations of dishes using pineapples like the ginataang manok na may pinya or chicken in coconut milk and pineapple, the laing na may pinya or taro leaves in coconut milk and pineapple, and the “Pili-pinya” or pili-pineapple pie, using pili nuts, which are a distinctive Bicol product. On its third year, the Pinya Cookfest will happen on June 22 at the Central Plaza Mall Complex, organized by the Municipal Council of Women.
“We have a saying that the food in Daet will make you lose your diet,” Sarion quipped.
The mayor, then a councilor, started the Pinyasan Festival to promote its prime agricultural product, the Queen or Formosa cultivar of pineapple, and to make it a badge of identity. He revealed before the Pinyasan, “the PeƱafrancia Festival is the only popular festival in the Bicol region but it is a religious festival so I thought of starting a celebration that will showcase the agricultural produce of Daet.”
Sarion went around provinces in the country, saw their festivals, and was inspired to create a festival to promote Daet. He himself plants pineapples and has heard many favorable comments about the sweetness of pineapples of Camarines Norte.
“We decided to make it a vehicle, this product that is distinctive to Camarines Norte,” he said.
With the festival, the market for Queen pineapples, which best eaten fresh, grew. Sarion revealed that two canning factories are starting to operate in the province.
Camarines Norte is the fourth largest pineapple-producing province in the country, with 2,400 hectares devoted to the cultivation of pineapples in 2006.
The Spaniards brought the pineapple, from its origin in central South America, to the Philippines in the mid-sixteenth century. Navigator Christopher Columbus and his crew discovered the fruit in the Caribbean in 1493 and it spread worldwide.
Now, Southeast Asia is one of the leading producers of pineapples with the Philippines yielding 1.618 million tons in 2001. The Smooth Cayenne and Red Spanish cultivars are commonly propagated here along with Queen, which is particular to Camarines Norte, grown by intercropping with coconuts. Relatively smaller, the Queen pineapple is said to have a very likable sweet taste and crisp texture.
Thus, the Queen pineapple becomes the star of Daet’s festival.
The 17th year of the Pinyasan will open on June 15 with a mass, an opening program and the opening of a historical and heritage exhibit mounted by the Daet Heritage Council. The Pinyasan Beer Plaza will also be opened at the Daet Elevated Plaza and will run throughout the duration of the festival.
On June 16, an agri-trade fair and investment exhibit will open on Magallanes Street, beside Freedom Park, and will run until June 23. On the same day, there will be a four-wheel drive competition.
On June 18, Gawad Kalinga Pinyasan Village in the barangay of Bibirao will be dedicated; and the Kiwanis Club of Daet, the Reina DaeteƱa and the Daet Senior Citizens Federation will hold Tertulla de Daet at the Pabico ancestral house.
On June 19, the day will have a job fair at the Central Plaza Mall Atrium and a basketball competition, which will be capped by concert by Randy Santiago.
In the morning of June 20, there will be beach volleyball, a boat race, a sand-carving contest and other beach events at the Bagasbas Beach, a known surfing site. In the afternoon, the street dancing and float parade, which are two of the highlights of the festival, will happen. This will be followed by another Mardi-Gras type parade, but this time the participants will represent different festivals from other parts of the province and the country. Expected to be represented are the Busig-on Festival of Labo, Tinagba Festival of Iriga City, Ibalong Festival of Legazpi City, Kaogma Festival of Camarines Sur, Rahugan Festival of Basud, Tabak Festival of Tabaco City, Magayon Festival of Albay, Caracol Festival of Makati and Panagbenga Festival of Baguio. A night of revelry at Bagasbas will cap the day.
The following day, June 21, the world record for the longest pineapple chain will be attempted. At night, the Miss Pinyasan 2009 beauty pageant will be held.
The Third Pinya Cookfest will happen on June 22 at the Central Plaza Mall Complex at 4 p.m. followed by an ABS-CBN caravan show at the Eco Athletic Field at 5 p.m. featuring the television network’s stars. A boxing match, “Mano Mano 2 sa Daet,” at the Central Plaza Mall will be simultaneously held.
The Barangay Night, the Dangal ng Lahi Awards and the awarding of child-friendly barangays will be held in the night of June 23 at the Camarines Norte Agro Sports Center.
The festival will then be brought to Metro Manila on June 28.

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