Ilocos Norte gears up for La Virgen Milagrosa Festival

Preparations are now in full swing for the upcoming celebration of Ilocos Norte’s provincial fiesta which honors its patroness La Virgen Milagrosa, the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) announced.

This province-wide festival was initiated by Governor Imee R. Marcos in 2012 to harness the unity of Ilocanos in the development of Ilocos Norte.

INTO Head Ianree Raquel noted that this year’s celebration will center on the rich culture and tradition of the province inspired by the patroness.

Drawing thousands of Ilocanos across the province as well as tourists, the festival will begin with a nine-day novena mass next month at the Badoc parish church and other parishes in the Diocese of Laoag.

Revelers will also be basking in the union of music, art and culture at the majestic Paoay Sand Dunes with the fourth installment of the Himala sa Buhangin! Arts and Music Festival tentatively set on May 14.

The one-day event will feature musical acts as well as different art installations and sculptures made by renowned visual artists.

In the past years, the festival resident artist Leeroy New, who is acclaimed internationally for his massive, public space interventions, transformed the sprawling sand dunes to a haven of avant-garde art installations.

Sculptures of ‘Elsa,’ the iconic character played by award-winning actress Nora Aunor in the 1984 film Himala as well as ‘Flavio’ played by the late Fernando Poe JR. from the classic film series ‘Ang Panday’ are also installed in the site.

Both of the aforementioned legendary movies were filmed in the location recognizing the Paoay Sand Dunes as the ‘Center of Film Tourism’ in the Philippines in 2014.

Raquel also noted that this year’s celebration will be highlighted by the comeback of a bigger Miss Ilocos Norte on May 18, adding that the pageant has produced representatives for national competitions most recently of which is Miss Ilocos Norte 2014–Second runner-up Sheena Dalo who competed in this year’s Binibining Pilipinas.

“We are hoping that every municipality and city in the province will be able to send their representatives, so far we already have candidates from some towns,” said Raquel.—(John Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)