Fiesta with Berta & Andrew: Bangus Festival
Good morning everyone. Nagpudot ditoy! That means, wow it’s very hot here in the Philippines right now! We’re at the heart of summer and the sun isn’t about to hide anytime soon. This is why it was very lucky of us to join a festival that celebrates the blue waters of sunny Philippines!
The Bangus Festival is a month-long event every April. It started in 2002 as a way for the city of Dagupan in Pangasinan to promote its top fishing industry: bangus. The bangus or milkfish is the national fish of the Philippines. It is very, very bony and hard to eat but they are very delicious!
At first the Bangus Festival just lasted for two weeks. But now, celebrations stretch to more than one month… that’s how much the people of Dagupan feel so blessed about their product!
Although relatively new, we were told that the Bangus Festival has already broken Guinness World Records for longest barbecue! Around 1,000 grills are lighted up each year to cook bangus and for chefs to challenge each other in the battle for most creative dish. Of course, many watering mouths are also present and ready to receive these blessings!
Dagupan is a city in Pangasinan province. It’s fairly easy to go to Dagupan by commuting because it is considered a transport hub in northwest Luzon. There are many buses leaving Cubao or Manila that pass by Pangasinan or that stop directly in Dagupan city.
Dagupan lies beside the sea. It is a progressive city, so there won’t be a lack of banks, ATMs, malls, supermarkets, restaurants and more importantly hotels to stay in if you’re joining the festival.
Aside from cooking contests there are many more things to look forward to at the Bangus Festival. Actually, it has more activities than any other festival we’ve joined because Dagupan is very accessible from Manila.
Some of these are trade fairs, dance showdowns, parades, fashion shows, races and sports tournaments, workshops, conventions, mall shows, a shooting contest, street party, beach party, beauty pageants, band competitions and even job fairs! There were celebrities who guested in some of the shows and competitions here, and plenty more are slated to come before the festival ends in May.
Parade of Costumes
The parade of costumes was one of those worthy to see because they showcase many traditional Filipino clothes. It was mostly high school and younger students from all over the Philippines who joined the parade so it was a kind of inter-school competition too. They were all very game and eager to out-do each other!
It was good that we were able to catch an attempt to break the World Record (yet again!) in Bayambang, another town in Pangasinan south of Dagupan. What happened was the grills were all laid side by side until it stretched 8 kilometres!
Of course, a trip to the Bangus Festival wouldn’t be complete without trying some dishes using bangus. But that didn’t mean we did not try other famous dishes from the province. Here are what we tried and where you can find them. Have you tasted any of these before? Which are your favourites?
Kuya Max Restogrill
De Venecia Road, Lucao District, DagupanCity
The bestsellers of this restaurant are the sizzling bangus boneless and sizzling bangus max. Their seafood are very tasty… their recipes were why they actually blossomed from just a humble street carinderia.
Sinigang na bangus belly
Jacobo’s Seafood Grill
De Venecia Road, DagupanCity
This is the bangus dish that’s a sin not to miss! Sinigang na bangus belly is very soft and savoury and we enjoyed plenty of hot bowls of this dish from day one. The restaurant also serves food influenced by Texan cooking.
Bonuan, Tondaligan, DagupanCity
Sisig bangus is steamy, hot and very melts-in-your-mouth delicious! Matutina’s also serves delicious hipon or shrimp dishes here! We hope you’re not allergic because the spicy buttered one is to die for!
Great Taste Seafood and Pigar-Pigar
Gomez Street, DagupanCity
This may be a fast food restaurant, but it serves one of the city’s best pigar-pigar or a type of deep fried beef. It is so simple yet very tasty! We heard that because it is so popular for tourists and locals, this dish has its own mini-festival during the Bangus Festival.
Barangay Herrero-Perez, DagupanCity
Kaleskes is the quirkiest food we ate in Dagupan city. It is a beef broth made up of meat and innards; you can even ask for an extra serving of blood and fat to mix in with the soup. All we can say is kaleskes is definitely an acquired taste! There are plenty of small restaurants in Barangay Herrero-Perez that sell it.
This is the first time we attended a food festival here in the Philippines, and it made us realise just how much important food is to the culture of the Filipinos.
See you in our next stop somewhere in the Philippines!
(Photos from What’s Up Dagupan with Eddxer Valenzuela)