Pretentious & meaningless, Pamulinawen Festival kicks off

St. William the Hermit, Patron of Laoagueños, did not exactly relish fiestas
St. William the Hermit, Patron of Laoagueños, did not exactly relish fiestas.

The revelry leading to the February 10 Feast Day of St. William, patron of the city, begins today.

The Laoag City Fiesta I have grown up to know was simple, dry, and forgettable.  There were strings of parades, yes, but with very little  fanfare.  Then until now, the main attraction is a karnibal, which is not even 1/1000 as good as Enchanted Kingdom, located under the Gilbert Bridge.  There, I remember going to freak shows of sirena (mermaid), babaeng ahas (lady snake), babaeng pusit (lady squid), and other human beings whose physical deformities have been exploited in cash ‘s name.

A few years ago, an ambitious mayor tried to give the Laoag City Fiesta a name, thus, the Pamulinawen Festival.  A dance parade, featuring students forced to participate, was introduced.  If you ask me, it was just a pretentious response to the successes of Sinulog in Cebu, the Dinagyang of Iloilo, the Masskara of Bacolod, and other well-known festivals.  The Pamulinawen thing does not really mean much to us, Ilocanos.

Actually, this “festival syndrome” is sickening.  Many other towns have created their own festivals, e.g. Empanada Festival, Pinakbet Festival, Dinengdeng Festival and the like, becoming less and less meaningful as they grow in number.

How I wish I could say, “Come over to our house on Feb 10”, but it is not in the tradition of Laoagueños to prepare food and entertain guests during the fiesta, in stark contrast to the gustatory hedonism that characterizes feasts in my father’s hometown in Pampanga.

To me, as with most Ilocanos, February 10 is just another day.

And it is best to leave it that way.  St. William was a hermit, one who turned his back from material possessions, ephemeral joys, and earthly desires.  From the time of his conversion, he lived a life of prayer, penance, and fasting until his death on February 10, 1157.

God sent the hermit, and aptly so, to serve as patron of the stingy Ilocanos.

Meanwhile, my friends Aian and Randy are busy preparing for the ostentatious Search for Ms. Laoag.

Give me a break.

Author: Herdy La. Yumul

A hesitant academic pimp, writer

44 thoughts on “Pretentious & meaningless, Pamulinawen Festival kicks off”

  1. While nobody really celebrates a hermit whatever he may stand for— many true-blue Ilocanos like myself celebrate identity and togetherness through fiesta activities and find it rather backward to base everything on St. William. After all, the Pamulinawen is not just for the Catholics. So come join the festivities so that, as you say, you can have a break.

    1. Very good points, shang. I hope to see some amount of prudence in the festivities though. It is scandalous to be ostentatious in these painfully trying times.

  2. And in Pasuquin, we have the Asin Festival..ha.ha.ha. Pero alam mo, buong buhay ko, di pa ako naka-attend ng Laoag Fiesta. Ang init naman kasi eh at ang daming tao.

    1. Kapag Feb 10, main day of fiesta, madaming tao sobra, mostly from the away (rural areas) in other towns. Mga taga-Laoag e nasa mga bahay-bahay na lang nila usually. Nothing much to see though.

  3. Actually, I am not a Catholic so I am not attending nor celebrating fiestas. But most people are enjoy to celebrate fiesta especially when it comes to search. Even though I said that, you may go and watch the Pamulinawen Festival. This kind of festival is not a unique anymore because there is now the Empanada Festival in Batac and some other kinds of festival in other places in Ilocos.

  4. true. but pamulinawen festival is the beautiful festival that I ever seen in my life. ahahaha . .ado py chikas idjay. ahahah.

    pti d2 sah solsona my festival nah rin. GAMENG FESTIVAL, ahahah. kht maliit lng nah place ang solsona hndi cla patatalo. ryt? clinest n grinest yta ang solsona. ahahah

  5. as catolic or aglipayan pareparehas na ipinagdiriwang natin ang festival katatapos nga ng festival nmin eh kng my pamulinawen sa laoag kmi dinengdeng festival…and fiesta is enjoy cause my artista n pumupunta.and may may handaan din

  6. Sa buhay ko hindi pa ako nag attend ng pamulinawen festival…..ken diak lang aspayran ti mapan uray adda ibagada nga artista….never parin akong pumunta…actually wala akong hilig mamasyal id rather stay at the house….hind na unique ang pamulinawen aya….

  7. …,,when i hear the word festival parang wala lang its because when i was a child my parents did not engage me to watched those festival and another is I am not a Catholic thats why…,eto pa kahit anu pa siguro ang sabihin mo sakin para manuod hindi rin ako pupunta dahil sa mainit ang panahon at buti sana kung gaya ng ibang festival na talagang maganda at talagang panagkagastusan….hehehe

  8. Well,ive not yet experienced Pamulinawen Fest but like any other Fiestas sir hmn..i found it as a holiday celebration..& sounds great 4me altho it isnt emphasize the real essence of that Fest..mga FeaLipino sir, alam mu na bsta celebration masaya,hehehe i admit ganun ako…i want also mga engagements of students hehehe,exposure po iyon…and it is only that moment na makkta at ma_mit mu mga politicians tapus magbibigayan mga donations for that certain town – well that is actually ung isang advantage na nagyayari..
    Festival is another way to interact sir…
    Hapi Valentine Sir….

  9. well, ive not yet experienced Pamulinawen fest but like any other fests, it sounds great for me..its just like a holiday celebration wher in uniqueness is viewd depending on your is also a big moment of a great interaction…Essence of Pamulinawen????well,it lies on how u made and viewd the activity. i like also the student’s engagement,it is 1 way of showing that, that Fest is really yours, really for the ILOCANOS..
    Hapi valentine,Sir….

  10. HUHHHH PAMULINAWEn is one of the nice celebration ehhh,, kasi dito you can have break,, and it shows lang na u have a respect if you join to celebrate na pamulinawen,, once a year na nga lang db? y dont we enjoy diba?

  11. hahaha im not familiar to that Pamulinawen Festival because im not from ilocos norte but i heard that this festival is so beutiful and exiting and im planning to watch on it….i think i enjoy it…

  12. true… pamulinawen festival is so nice and so exciting dahil maraming nagtitinda ng ibat ibang klase ng mga gamit at super ganda ng dancing parade yan kasi ang gustong gusto kong panoorin…

  13. pamulinawen is one of the most awaited celebration that we should watch,,,i rily want to watch it kaya lang walang time ….

  14. As to my own perception, why should one bother with whether a festival is pretentious or not? As long as we have our own and its for the Ilocano people, there is nothing wrong with it. For the sake of tourism, for the sake of employment and definitely for giving pride to Ilocano traditions. You know we have a competitive world, we have to make also our best. If other provinces got it, why cant we? Whether through festivities if that is what the former mayor way, then so be it. I dont care that much, I just love my own, our festivals, and that includes Pamulinawen Festival of Laoag City, the city of my beloved province.

  15. nood ako sa tv kasi i knew na dinudumog ng tao ang miss laoag. ganda ganda kc.

    nakakatawa si chevylle fariñas during her welcome words. hahaha. hindi niya ma-handle reaction ng crowd. hahaa.

    halatang hindi siya “prepared” kasi parng hin di siya gumawa speech niya.

    and the speech? gosh. i think she should fire her writer.

    may article po ba kau about ms laoag? galing ng miss laoag! sino director? si sir randy parin?

  16. i know the person who gave the name pamulinawen festival —my father.if you don’t enjoy the show ,don’t watch, if you rather watch sinulog festival ,go to cebu.
    i am a true born ilocana and always looking forward to the fiesta because i am a true filipina at heart. celebrating fiesta is in our blood, we love gatherings. kanya kanyang opinion sge, my opinion?!!—- take good care of our cultural heritage.magpapakalamon nalang ba tayo sa bagong kaugalian na binigigay ng mga dayuhan?kalimutan ang pinagmulan? marami sa taga atin kahit masakit man tanggapin ang di pa nga nakakatungtong ng maynila. pinapatay ang katawan sa hirap ng pagsasaka,manu ba naman na bigyan ng kasiyahan minsan isang taon? masaya na sila sa carnival sa ilamin ng tulay,malay nila kung ano ang enchanted kingdom kung sa 100 daang piso nila sulit na sa tinatawag nyong cheap na lugar. pero sa kanila kahit mangalay sila sa pagsakay sa kanilang kuliglig makadalo lang sa masayang fiesta sa bayan.
    if you don’t enjoy the fiesta,don’t go out of the house or better yet, go out of the province for a week and get crazy with the star city rides. jut be sure to at least have 10k in your pocket.
    know your history and learn to love it.

  17. Mutya,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Kaya lang e andami mong faulty assumptions.

    You’re right to say that we must treasure our history, but, you see, I am not against fiestas, and I am proud of our Ilocano culture.

    The point is to initiate activities that are both fun and meaningful.

    Let’s not fall into templates set by others because we are doomed to fall short if we do.

    Instead, we must set trends and dictate the benchmark.

  18. Wow, sissy! You did not publish my last reply.

    Its just baffles me that you took notice of the “pretentiousness and meaningless Pamulinawen Festival” but you forgot to criticize Rag-rag-o which I think is more pretentious and POINTLESS considering the TIMING of the celebration.

    Di naman sila nagse celebrate ng ganung magnitude dati right? And when they did, they did something similar to what Pamulinawen is doing.

    Geeeez, I guess your one of Capitol’s minions.

    Pack up and leave somewhere else. Laoag dont deserve you.


    1. Anonymous, I’ll respond to your post when I am not too lazy, ok? What can I do, I have this bad habit of not publishing impolite messages. I can accept opinions opposite mine, but I just can’t stand ill-mannered posters.

      For now, I just want to say that I am a minion of no one. mwahahaha!

  19. Since third grade, I watch Pamulinawen Festival (I was studying at MMSU-LES Laoag before although I live in Batac)… not outside but at the comfort of the family house of my father’s side. Medyo malapit siya sa Rizal St., kung saan dumaraan ang parada, but I prefer watching SkyCable’s coverage para hindi ako mainitan sa panonood.

    I agree with the statement “A dance parade, featuring students forced to participate, was introduced.” Noon pong Empanada Festival 2009, we students at MMSU High School were obliged to attend the festival. Dancers dance, all the rest just watch. Kumpol-kumpol kami noon sa Ricarte Park. You would see many green-checkered paldas and MMSU logos and MMSU PE shirts. After the activity, I watched the local newscast. Batac’s Vice Mayor stated that the schools VOLUNTARILY participated in that festival.

    But really, we – the non-dancers – were FORCED to watch the festival. And… attendance was checked! Ayan po ba ang tinatawag na VOLUNTARY participation?

    I am not against the University High School administration’s instruction na manood po kami. However, dapat po nasa estudyante na kung gusto niyang manood ng piyesta. (I hope our school officials would understand.)

    Honestly… I do not like Empanada Festival. I just look forward to Batac’s holiday dahil walang pasok. But I really, really look forward to Laoag’s festival.

  20. Nice exchanges of opinions you’ve got there. I seldom post comments but petty qualms of Ilocanos intrigues me. Some (if not most) Catholic Laoaguenos do not even know their Patron Saint before, even some priests. The ostentatious memorabilia book “Cathedra” printed the Patron Saint of Laoag as St. William of Vercelli, whose feast day is not Feb 10. Quite a shame to those who painstakingly produced the book in 2007. For those who doesn’t know, Pamulinawen is a maiden’s name in the song Pamulinawen, where the singer is courting her. Such a girl’s name is not a Laoaguena, more to uplandish place of Mt. Province.

  21. You Know we have different cultures and traditions,as we should not be bother on that.I`m fun with the festivals so im waiting for that to come every year.I go to carnibal.I enjoy watching the street dance,the know maminsan lat makatawen so we must enjoy it.What`s wrong nabangunan tay daytoy a kultura o tradisyon,isu nga panayabungan tayo,like us in currimao,every year we celebrate the ‘Dinaklisan festival”bilang pasasalamat sa mga biyaya ng dagat.hindi ito masasabing pagsasayang ng oras at pondo,gusto lang natin hindi mawala ang tradisyon namulatan natin at bakit naman tayo patatalo sa iba,kung meron sila,meron din tayo,di ba?So we must support it….

  22. Pamulinawen Festival was introduced only during the start of the administration of Mayor Farinas, but it was supposed to be observed not annually, but every 3 or 4 years (am not sure!).

    1. Asiong, I’ll try to get in touch with the Pamulinawen Fest organizers so I can offer my humble insights. All for the love of Laoag, my city.

  23. Mutya, nasaysayaat ngarud nga ag-Ilokano ka no talaga nga kayatmo ti mang-preserbar ti kaugalian nga Iloko nga nakannawidan, ta saan ka ket nga ag-Tagalog unay. Awanen ti umisu nga panagsarita ken husto nga panagisurat iti Iloko gapu met laeng iti saan nga panagisuro dagiti ma-maestra iti Ilokano iti pagadalan. Naimbag pay ta adda pay laeng ti Bannawag nga mabas-basa, numan pay man-mano ti agsur-surat nga taga Laoag.

  24. Sorry late reply.

    You said you do not publish impolite messages? Well, then why did you publish the first post I made and then deleted it after a few days? Whats you’re reason? If you find my post impolite in the first place, eh di sana di mo na lang pinublish the first time you so it. Hahahaha

    Pamulinawen is coming up. Im sure you’re going to right something senseless about it AGAIN.


  25. Sir Herdz,
    I stand to be corrected: Laoag City Fiesta in honor of St. William the Hermit should be celebrated every 3 years, am not sure when, but was not celebrated yesterday per a City official interviewed over the broadcast radio which I overheard quaintly with my old mom who listens intently close to it. What was celebrated is the 14th Pamulinawen Festival.

  26. I’ve learned something from your katukayo iti kinakalbo- Puco Aurelio, Secretary of the City Council, that Pamulinawen Festival started last Feb 1994 during the tenure of then City Mayor Roger C. Farinas, coinciding the Feast of the Patron St. William which is being celebrated every 3 years. Earlier, when Laoag became a City last 1967, the City Charter, in recognition of the separation of the Church and the State, is mum on the issue as to the funding of Fiestas, but in the context of attracting visitors and tourists, the City Fiesta is being celebrated. If we believe on the celebration of the Patron’s Feast in every three years, then the next Feast of St. William here in Laoag would be next year.

    1. Happy fiesta, sir asiong. Got to chance to interview Mr. Aurelio on the motorcycle ordinance, and I concede… that his forehead is more fabulous than mine. I want to be like him when I grow up, hehe.

      I do not say that the Pamulinawen must be abolished. Nagkasubuan na, and it would be ridiculous to scrap it. What I say is that we should seriously sit down and reflect what the Festival really means to us, what it is now, and what it should evolve to. There must be more to festivals than choreographed dances and fancy floats.

  27. i am from the university of the philippines baguio and i am about to have my report in my arts and society class(on pamulinawen festival). if you don’t mind, can i have your permission for using your blog post for my report?and one more thing, can you explain your side on the matter?i am about to report it urgent response to this request will be appreciated.

  28. Having expressed my comment on the Tan-ok Festival, I will also express my comment on the Pamulinawen Festival. I agree with you, apo, that it is pretentious. It is also “tulad-tulad” as it takes the form of more established popular festivals, such as the Sinulog and the Ati-atihan, at least, for me, in its dance parade, and the Panagbenga, in its Grand Floral Float competition. Perhaps, one way to make our festival unique is to capitalize on the name of our beloved city, Laoag.

    Apo, imagine the Pamulinawen: Fiesta ti Lawag. Light will be a continuing central theme. We will showcase how Laoag has been, is, and will be the light of Ilocandia, through the following suggested events:

    Laoag: Lawag Kultural (Cultural Light): Cultural preservation and development, like my suggestion for Tan-ok, is the goal. We can keep the calesa festival as the Parada ti Kalesa. In addition to this, we can have a Folk Song Choral Competition (Pasalip Koral kadagiti Kansion Folkloriko), where there will be two categories, one for old folk songs and another for newly composed folk songs.

    In recognition of the Hawaiiano heritage of Ilocano sakadas, a hula dancing competition using tunes with Ilocano lyrics can be held.

    To further bolster our dream of having Ilocos Norte as the birth place of the true Ilocano contemporary music and industry, a song-writing competition can be held, this time, focusing on a specific genre, although most likely, this is rock or pop-rock, or if we are more liberal, post-modern or something a la Regina Spektor (hehe). Themed street parties can also be held simultaneously with this competition.

    To add excitement to the “nights” like the “Ilocano Association of Hawaii Night” and so forth and so forth, these must be transformed into balls with themes, which shall not be limited to Ilocano traditions, but must be creative with the vision to internationalize Laoag. Perhaps, Ilocano tradition can be blended with international themes. However, I suggest that at least one ball be reserved to an all-Ilocano theme: Ilocano society dances, Ilocano cuisine, etc.

    Replacing the floral float competition, an illuminated float competition will be held. Floats will be decorated with lights, following a designated theme. People in the floats will wear colorful costumes depicting the theme. Floats will be paraded on a dimly-lit Rizal Street, and while floats parade, they may be accompanied by dancers in colorful costumes.

    Other events involving lights must also be held, for example, creative light of trees and buildings, fire dancing a la Himala sa Buhangin.

    I do not support having a beauty pagent, but if people like it, I guess there can be one.

    Laoag: Lawag ti Abenturero (Light of the Adventurer): This is a venue to promote La Paz sand dunes, and the sports sand boarding and 4×4 driving in the sand dunes. Other sand sports may be developed. I am imagining a ball game held in the sand dunes and sand skiing. These games will be played in a competition, The Sand Dunes Games. Colorful opening and closing ceremonies are a must.

    Laoag: Lawag Gastronomiko (Gastronomic Light): This is a venue for the development of Ilocano cuisine. A competition will be held where new and creative dishes using locally produced and available ingredients and traditional Ilocano cooking techniques will be produced. Another competition will be held where Ilocano cuisine will be blended creatively with other cuisines, using forms and techniques from other cultures. The winning dishes will be featured in a dinner for a cause event, which may be a costume party.

    Laoag: Lawag Ekonomiko (Economic Light): This is a venue to promote industry in the city and in the province. In addition to trade fairs showcasing products, the City Government must provide incentives to the creation of local industries and businesses. One such incentive is an annual award (maybe recognition, or cut in local taxes) to businesses that expanded beyond the city, best practices, best innovations, etc.

    Finally, Laoag: Lawag ti Naurnos a Panagrang-ay (Light of Orderly Progress): This is a venue to promote an orderly city planning, making Laoag a modern progressive city that is environmentally-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and livable. Plans for the city are to be presented and discussed in colloquiums, seminars, etc. (Obiter dictum: I would like to see an area developed as a recreation area, where people can shop, dine, play, and see art. This area must be architecturally pleasing, preferably replicating the architecture of the Capitol area, but in a much larger area. I just thought that what makes European cities so beautiful is their classic architecture that is uniformly seen in varying designs in a large area of such cities. Trees must line new streets henceforth.)

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