LAOAG CITY, Nov. 25–In line with the aim of Governor Imee R. Marcos to develop livelihoods and benefit the entire Ilocos Norte community through the province’s tourism industry, this year’s “Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals” happening tomorrow, November 26, at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Memorial Stadium, will contribute to disaster preparedness through relief funds.
Hailed as one of the most highly-anticipated cultural events in Northern Luzon, the “Tan-ok ni Ilocano” festival was first organized in 2011 as a grand showdown of different festivals found among Ilocos Norte’s 21 towns and two cities.
“Tan-ok” is the Ilocano word for “greatness,” thus it is known as the festival that celebrates and honors the Ilocano cultural heritage.
According to Mr. Aianree Raquel, head of the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO), the Provincial Capitol is not directly selling tickets to the event but is working with a non-government organization, the Bakers and Restaurants Association of Ilocos Norte (BRAIN), to raise funds.
BRAIN is “helping us raise money that will go to the trust fund of the province for typhoon relief operations,” said Raquel.
Ilocos Norte had been one of the provinces struck hard by Typhoon “Lawin” last month, with over P2-B recorded in damages according to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Resiliency Council (PDRRMRC).
While early evacuation had helped to lessen casualties and injuries, damages to agriculture and rural residences were inevitable.
“They [BRAIN] are doing it for us, we’re helping them, and the proceeds will go into the province,” said Raquel.
The association had also been a strong partner of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) in organizing events and attracting visitors to the province last summer, recording more than 400,000 visitors during Holy Week alone.
Attracting over 60,000 spectators, including online and on television, last year’s competition was topped by the town of Currimao’s Daklisan Festival, followed by Nueva Era’s Tadek Festival and Dingras’ Ani Festival.
Raquel shared, “Normally, it was always the big towns and cities who win, but last year it was proven that it’s everybody’s game━that even small towns or indigenous communities can win,” referring to how during the first four years of the event, the championships had been bagged by Batac City and then Laoag City.
Judging from last year’s results with the coastal town on top and how the local government units (LGUs) have grown more prepared and aware of show standards, “it’s very unpredictable,” he added.
This year’s competition will also retain the incorporation of a video presentation in each performance to further challenge contingents, provide the audience with a different dimension to the spectacle, and also allow digital artists to partake in a show with largely traditional components.
“Year by year, we always try to innovate in terms of production elements, design, from logistics to security measures, emergency measures and profile of the judges. We always try to look for new things, new materials, new people to work with,” said Raquel.
Adding a new perspective to the performances’ evaluation, the INTO added two more seats to the usual group of seven judges mainly composed of performers, choreographers, art directors, and production designers.
The new judges tomorrow will be Fe Abling Yu, senior officer of the Philippine Tour Operators Association, and Billy Marahura, a cultural researcher noted by Raquel to have “a very deep understanding of Ilocano heritage through experience.”
Raquel also assured that this year’s prizes would exceed that of the 2015 competition. Last year, the grand champion receive P350-K, while P250-K and P150-K were given to the second- and third-placers, respectively.
As in previous years, special awards will also be given: Best Music, Best Production Design, Best Video Design, Best Female Performer, and Best Male Performer.
More than attracting tourists, the “Tan-ok” festival aids the mission of PGIN to “uphold Ilocano heritage and positive values” among the community.
“Truly, culture and heritage mean so much to every Ilocano, to every town that would like to tell its story. Story-telling indeed is what we can do, telling and sharing with the world the extraordinary stories of Ilocos, the Province and the Ilocano, that great nation that spans the globe,” said Gov. Marcos.#—(Radz B. Bismonte, Mizpah Grace G. Castro, and Jennifer T. Pambid, PGIN-CMO)