The month of April is summer until May, so everyday in these months, expect to have the rays of the sun scorch the skin unbearably. Also, it’s a school holiday here in the Philippines. For every student, this only means a break and time for vacation.
Normally, if a Filipino family lives in cities like in Metro Manila, during a holiday season, the entire pack will head to the town in the province of the grandparents. The parents take some time so that their kids can enjoy the countryside and meet their cousins. The city boys and girls would even ask their parents for their permission to let them stay there for vacation break.
In Singapore, I can still walk on the road not minding the heat of the afternoon sun. Now, we are here in the Philippines after sometime of being away. This time, the atmosphere is so different. When we were heading to Dagupan City, the temperature that afternoon was too intense.
The news said the heat climbed up to 38 degrees Celsius. This is the hottest I’ve ever experienced so far if my memory serves me right. Is it because of climate change? An El Nino Phenomenon?
From our hometown, San Fabian, we crossed another town, Mangaldan before reaching Dagupan City. We live in the 4th district of Pangasinan province in Ilocos Region (Region 1).
We heard of this 101 Ways to Cook Seafood so we went to Dagupan City Stadium. This is only a part of an occasion, a bigger event widely known as Dagupan Bangus Festival, held every year.
Dagupan City has made its own name, not only because of businesses, schools and universities but because of the fine lines of bangus (milkfish) it produces. When one mentions bangus in the Philippines, the name Dagupan comes into mind. These species also become a gauge of milkfish in the entire country. If the seller says the milkfish comes from Dagupan, most probably it’s already sold. Bangus Dagupan as we fondly say is one with quality taste.
101 Ways to Cook Seafood called in a lot of participants. They gathered together to showcase their creativity in cooking seafood. One of the hosts said after a tight elimination, they trimmed down the contestants to 10. We got there half way of the event.
The chief cooks and their teams were dressed in their respective attires. Under a category announced by the emcee, they each would suddenly become too busy preparing a special recipe. Whoever finished their dish walked ahead and presented their inventions on the stage.
We went up to the stage to see up close what they had to offer. Every single dish was crafted very well with beautiful presentation. After the initial wow!, the names of the seafood recipes knocked me out.
Bangus Molo, Sinuglaw ni Chef, Spicy & Hot Sour Malaga Soup, Oyster in Pasta Bed Supreme, Squalaga, Creamy Tom Yum with Clam And Quail Egg Soup, Mud Crabs in Roasted Squash Sauce, Bangus Dynamite, Tamyum Lapu-Lapu with Mushroom, Clam Provencale, Shrimp Progression, East Meets West Shrimp Soup, Oyster Jam Canape, Crab Manggo Sinigang in Coconut Juice with Pastry Bread, Lapu-Lapu Mango Salad with Bagoong Dressing, Squashy Bangus Soup,
Subangshingus with Hawaiian Sarsa, Cream of Pumpkin with Toasted Cheese Bread, Saucy Sizzling Mud Crab, Clam And Black Bean Soup with Crispy Fried Potatoes And Bird’s Eye Chili, Shrimp Stew, Pandan Malaga sa Gata, Coconut Encrusted Shrimp with Turmeric Lemon Grass Sauce, Oyster Meat Balls in Creamy Mushroom Sauce, Lapu-Lapu Soprese with Sirl Vegetable in Creamy Patae Sauce, Hot Crab Pimiento.
With so many recipes, I tasted only two of these seafood dishes. And it was free-taste. The contestants let the visitors sample their specialties on the tables.
To see the rest of these dishes, click this 101 Ways to Cook Seafood.
The program was highlighted with a recipe cooked by the amicable celebrity chef, chef Boy Logro. He prepared the dish he called Bangus Deep Fried in Lemon Grass. Everyone waited with excitement as he disclosed how he cooked his recipe he only made for the 101 Ways to Cook Seafood.
There were other programs lined up for the Dagupan Bangus Festival from April 20, to May 4, 2013. We missed the Bangus Rodeo, an exciting marathon of milkfish. Another one was the Gilon-Gilon, a much-awaited street dancing with performers wearing their eye-catching dresses participated in by the residents of each barangay in Dagupan City. Pistay Dayat on May 1, also a national labor day, is a celebration at the beaches.
Kalutan ed Dalan, the main event of Dagupan Bangus Festival, happened on April 30, 2013. It means Grill on The Street that has made a mark on Guinness Book of World Records as the longest grill in the world. This also serves to highlight the one-of-a-kind milkfish produced by the people of Dagupan City.
The spectators crowded the A.B Fernandez Avenue on downtown district of Dagupan City. The entire road was closed to pave the way for the occasion. We arrived on time for the ignition of the longest grill. It was already past 4 pm, but we felt the heat in the air still not ceasing.
If the summer heat here in the Philippines is way too much to handle, wait to collapse from the heat created by the campaign period of election day come May 13, 2013. The battle for the seats of the politicians here takes place everywhere. Even the festive spirit of Dagupan Bangus Festival was not an exempt from the eyes of the political candidates. So I was not surprised to hear from the crowd their disappointment as the festivity was tainted with politics.
Those who joined the Kalutan ed Dalan came from different groups. Most were representatives of companies that have businesses in Dagupan City or elsewhere. We saw, for instance, a high school class batch ’81 preparing their grill and the glistening milkfish. This event also became a venue for the employees to get together, picnic and party.
As we walked on the road, we saw a lot of companies taking this chance to show their presence in the middle of the crowd. They deployed their men offering their products with attractive rebates. Several stages for bands performing that night loomed along the downtown center of Dagupan.
What made us stop several times, though, was the catchy street foods like barbecues, sweet corns, etc., sold side by side on the overflowing downtown district that day. Filipinos also have the unstoppable hobby of eating local dishes. Just like in any other countries, we serve our own delicacies found everywhere in the 7 thousand plus Philippine islands.
Who doesn’t know the infamous balut? Even foreigners who’ve braved to eat this would surely remember it or try to forget about it completely. In the Philippines, this fertilized duck embryo is commonly sold on the streets.
Besides the famous Dagupan bangus, we saw assorted forms of seafood smoking on top of the grills.
Whoever had the biggest milkfish would take home a prize. Before we left, we chanced upon this enormous bangus ready to feed plenty of people.
Philippines has so many festivals celebrated in the entire archipelago every year. These annual events already become traditions ever since, and Filipinos love to be part of these occasions as they are also known to be happy and friendly people.