In an unceasingly advancing world, the people of Quezon province have come to rely on a few constants: “Pahiyas” of Lucban, “Agawan” of Sariaya, “Pasayahan” of Lucena City, “Centurion Festival” of Mulanay and San Narciso, “Boling-Boling Festival” of Catanauan, “Maubanog Festival” of Mauban, “Lubid-Lubid Festival” of Tiaong, and “Katang Festival” of Calauag, to name a few—festivals that always pull big crowds and imparadise them into a fantasy world, pretty much like a carnival funhouse.
Then there’s the “Niyogyugan Festival.”
With quite a list of assorted daily activities for a couple of weeks in August, there’s always something to interest everyone. To help guests unwind from their clockwork lives, the festival indeed kept itself up to the hype.
Events during this year’s Aug. 9-20 run included Triathlon Sprint; Grand Blood Donation; Coco Jam Fest with the Parokya ni Edgar band; a 4-in-1 concert with Nyoy Volante, Yeng Constantino, Angeline Quinto, and Erik Santos; a dog show; BJMP dental and medical mission for inmates; a swimming competition; Farmers’ Day; arts expo; Quezon Medalla ng Karangalan; Bb. Niyogyugan beauty contest; booth competition showcasing coconut byproducts (ethnic crafts at basement prices and eatables of distinct local flavors) where prizes were awarded to fund local government projects; street dance competition, and the Grand Float Parade.
All of Quezon’s two cities and 39 municipalities converged at the Perez Park in Lucena City, each one with a designedly different character, to flaunt their ethnic and cultural fidelity to the province and to what the festival is all about: the coconut.
The brainchild of former Congresswoman Aleta Suarez, wife of the current 3rd district Congressman Danilo Suarez, Niyogyugan (a portmanteau of niyog and the stop-and-go rhythm of yugyog) celebrations reflect the province’s goal-oriented spirit.
It is also an extension of the people’s great regard for its most remarkable son, Manuel Luis Quezon, a kind of pride which gives Niyogyugan revelers that extra boost and heart-bursting ardor on grand parades as they crisscross bunting-canopied streets of Lucena City.
Nothing compares as to how a coconut tree can be utilitarian. Top this: coconut water for vinegar, medicinal use, and fresh buko juice; coconut oil for cooking, soap, margarine, and creams; coconut milk (gata and in powdered form); woven coconut leaves used for thatch, floral decorations for rituals and ceremonies (palaspas for Palm Sundays), and basketware; dry leaves and roots as fuel for the hearth; the midribs into brooms; handicrafts from coconut shells (e.g. kitchen utensils, back scratcher, coin bank); desiccated coconut kernels for the confectionery industry; husks for door mats, upholstery, mattress, car seats, carpets, insulation, coir, rope, twine, potting soils; the peat as growing medium for your orchids; the sweet toddy tapped from the spathe of the flower for palm sugar and honey; the ubod for your lumpiang sariwa; coconut timber as rafters and furniture; the residue after coconut milk extraction as animal feed, and for high times, lambanog and basi for that extra lift. Whew!
The Niyogyugan is not your average cultural festival but an admirable combination of agro-tourism and gourmet tourism that offers a unique glimpse into the history and culture and the assiduousness of the Quezonians.
Watch the grand parade and satisfy yourself with gapless jolts of pleasure. Be swept away until the last possible yugyugan note.
Photos by Diana B. Noche
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