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Quezon province’s festival of life

The Philippines has many festivals in practically all corners of the country with most of them religious in nature.

But, that is not the case of Quezon province’s Niyogyugan Festival, now on its 4th year evolving from a simple agri trade fair in 2011. Organizers of the two-weeklong festival call it the festival of life, referring to the lifeblood of Quezon – the coconut tree. Called the tree of life, the primary objective of the event is to revive the coconut industry. Quezon alone, with its 45 million fruit bearing coconut  trees  planted  on some 389,000 hectares, accounts for two billion nuts a year.

Calauag won the float competition with its entry that featured a crab on top of a boat
Gov. Jay-jay Suarez says it is the Quezonians way of shaking up the industry, thus the name “yugyugan" and  the whole province has responded positively with an impressive active participation. This year, there are 39 cities and municipalities, out of 41, that put up booths. After all, the organizers gave them millions of reasons to come up with their best, with the winning booth receiving a cool P3 million in cash. This year, Infanta with its giant, very realistic-looking half opened coconut on top of its booth won the prize. Runners up in this Class A category were Tagkawayan and Gumaca, receiving P2 million and P1 million, respectively. In the Class B category, composed of towns classified as 3rd to 5th class, top entries were Buenavista, Padre Burgos, and Sampaloc. The towns received the same amounts for their efforts.

All these trade booths located at the Old Capitol Compound in Lucena City showed off not only the creativity of the locals in designing booths. 

The crowds that trooped daily to the site were wowed seeing the cornucopia of endless coconut and other products, food delicacies and souvenir items, that in the last two days of the festival, total gross sales surpassed last year’s total. The festival had a record number of visitors.

Infanta, Quezon's booth won the P3 million top prize at the 4th Niyogyugan Festival
Among the more popular items, all derived from coconut trees were coco jam, lambanog, virgin coconut oil, nata de coco, coco vinegar, coco sugar, bukayo, and ornamental items. Suman from Infanta was always sold out, so was the longganisa from Lucban. Fresh vegetables, fruits, jams and jellies, dried fish and tinapa were good business as well.

A float parade with 18 entries starting near SM Lucena along with the street-dancing groups attracted a big crowd craning their necks to get a glimpse of the colorful floats.

Calauag, which featured a giant crab on top of a native boat, Quezon, and Pagbilao won the float competition.

A beauty pageant was a big hit at the Quezon Convention Center with people supporting their respective beauty bets. Bb. Niyogyugan was Ma. Athisa Manalo from Candelaria, and the runners-up were Aubrey Macalalad from Sariaya and Jullie Anne Gil from the host city. Bamboo performed to a standing room crowd.

Department of Tourism Regional Director Rebecca Labid shared the province offers year-round attractions, with Kamay ni Hesus alone in Lucban drawing 7 million visitors this year. She said, “Our direction from our new Secretary is to promote equally all the region’s destinations, including those that are being developed right now. Here in Quezon we are looking at several to promote. We have surfing in Real, the Polillo group of Islands, Infanta with its food offerings like its suman and fresh seafoods—particularly crabs—the golden sands of Jomalig island, Alabat in Perez where we are encouraging homestays to experience island living and explore its yet unknown waterfalls and caves. Our province is a place one can visit any time of the year.”

Photos by Teddy Pelaez

Topics: Quezon province , Niyogyugan Festival
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