Tan-ok Festival of Festivals: Why Laoag was biggest loser

Laoag City's Pamulinawen slash Panagpanday Festival presentation

I have always believed that Laoag City’s Pamulinawen Festival is confused. And that same confusion was brought to the First Tan-ok Festival of Festivals held last night, Nov. 12.

The result was sad but not puzzling. Of 23 local government units, Laoag did not figure in the Top 10, based on the eminent judges’ scorecards. I’m sure the overflowing audience at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Stadium felt the same.

Some observers—including my friend and former colleague at the university, Randy Leaño, who is now based in Hawaii—believe that Laoag lost because it did not get a good choreographer. As the city’s big names in culture and the arts opted to train contingents of other municipalities, Laoagueño-trained contingents won while Laoag wallowed at the bottom.

I agree that choreographers are a vital element in performances, and more so in competitions. However it is my humble opinion that Laoag lost because of something more basic: the story it shared was, well, confused.

Listening to the dubbed introduction before the performance, I had no idea at first that it was the Pamulinawen Festival being referred to, and when it was made explicit that it was Laoag’s turn, I was in a state of disbelief. It spoke of Panagpanday (Blacksmithing). Maybe there are some blacksmiths in Laoag, but I didn’t know (and even Google doesn’t) that Laoag is known for that industry in the same manner San Nicolas is known for their pottery or Piddig for wine making.

And pray tell, what is the connection between the popular Ilocano love song Pamulinawen and blacksmiths? That Panagpanday is alien to the Laoagueños’ psyche was apparent in the way the dancers performed. It became even more obvious with the audience’s silence. Continue reading “Tan-ok Festival of Festivals: Why Laoag was biggest loser”