By Terence Repelente
Photos by Bernard Supertran
A series of jubilant and amusing events served as a build up for this year’s Pista’y Dayat (sea festival). The festival ran from April 5 until its culminating day on May 1 and ended with a communal coastal cleanup.
The Lingayen Gulf has what appears to be an enchanting spell that attracts everyone to the sea during this time of the year. Annually, giant waves of people, locals and tourists, gather at the provincial capital, Lingayen, to enjoy and witness the mother of all festivals.
What began in the 1960s as a small thanksgiving celebration of the Pangasinense fisherfolk community, which they dedicate to the excessive gift of nature given to them by the Lingayen Gulf, over time rose to popularity as one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines.
Through the guidance of the local government, spearheaded by Gov. Amado I. Espino III, Pista’y Dayat serves as an expression of sheer concern for the environment in terms of responsible aquaculture. It is a reminder of the people’s accomplishment in cleaning and maintaining Pangasinan’s rivers and waterways that connect into the vast Lingayen Gulf—which thousands of families, residing near the coastal area, depend on for resources and livelihood.
Some of the notable activities were the sand sculpting competition, the Limgas ng Pangasinan (Maiden of Pangasinan) coronation, the night job market, the Kapuso Night, and the San Miguel national band concert. There was also a tourism and trade expo where small businesses showcased local products from different parts of Pangasinan. The Expo featured a garden landscape competition and a bonsai exhibit.
But the most anticipated event in the entire festival was the iconic Banca Parada. This year, hundreds of aquatic-themed boats participated in the spectacular river cruise parade. The fluvial display likened an image of a shoal collectively swimming in the middle of a sun-shattered sky and the warm waters of the historical Limahong Channel of the massive Agno River (the largest Philippine river in terms of water discharge draining).
Onboard the colorful boats were proud fisher folks, men and women, in costumes that matched the theme of their respective watercraft. They wore their local pride as they waved and shouted for their fellow Pangasinenses, who were admiring the parade from the Domalandan Bridge.The afternoon was filled with continuous thudding of engines, the exhilarating sound of drums banging from one of the cruising boats, and the loud cheers from the crowd. The parade ended with a commemorative program that was held under the Banaga Bridge.
It is not a surprise why the festival’s culminating day is customarily done on the first of May. Aside from the touristic value of it being held on a holiday, the citizens of Pangasinan also exult another year of hard work and effort from its fisher folks—the laborers of the sea.