The Sillag Experience
Team Out Of Town Travel Blog was fortunate enough to be part of the 7th Sillag Festival at the San Fernando, La Union, which happened from April 6 to 8, 2018.
The term “Sillag” is named after the Ilocano word “sellag” which means moonbeam or illumination from the moon. The festival is a tribute to the role of the old Poro Point lighthouse in guiding the fishermen home.
With the combined efforts of BCDA (Bases Conversion and Development Authority) and PPMC (Poro Point Management Corporation), they have created a successful 3-day event full of exciting activities for the locals and tourists.
The much-awaited Sillag Poro Point Festival of Lights, drawn 150,000 visitors in various activities and event including the ZumBay (Zumba by the Bay), Sunset Fun Run, Hope Lantern Ceremony, and daily OPM concerts with Shamrock, Truefaith, and 6cyclemind.
Since we were staying at the Thunderbird Resorts and Casino in Poro Point, going to the venue of the festival was hassle-free, and also thanks to our very kind and prompt drivers from BCDA, Kuya Carding, and Kuya Mark.
Activities We Did During Sillag Festival
Binge-Eating at Halo-Halo de Iloco
During our third day in San Fernando, we ate our lunch at one of the culinary destinations in La Union – at Halo Halo de Iloco.
After visiting the Poro Point Lighthouse, and climbing 96 steps just to get the panoramic view of the Poro Point, we get to head over to Halo-Halo de Iloco for lunch.
We were all ecstatic as soon as our dishes were served on our table. Why? We started off with the very well-presented Seafood Sinigang placed in a buko shell. What’s amazing is that its soup was purely cooked with the coconut juice, with their 3 main ingredients, the squid, shrimp, and bangus. This dish is perfect for sharing of 2 to 3 people and is only for 420 pesos. It has got its amazing balance of sour and sweetness which makes it one of their pride dishes on the menu.
We get to have the opportunity to do a sit-down interview with the owner himself, Mr. Xavier Mercado. He shared some insights that the interior and displays on his restaurants were all from his father’s antique collection. The restaurant isn’t lonely a food destination for some but is also there to promote tourism, as it was included in the list of Agri-Tourism in La Union.
There were even hanging tags on the ceiling pertaining to the town of La Union, where they get their local produce.
Other dishes we got to taste was their signature Okoy, which is basically made of carrots, monggo beans, squash, malunggay, and squid. You can order a plate with like 8-10 okoys for only 99 pesos. We also got to savor on their Inihaw platter which consists of grilled liempo, salted egg, eggplant, fried bangus, and squid. The price of this dish is 899 pesos.
Finally, we got to taste their famous Halo-Halo which is to die for. In case you haven’t been here yet, they offer 3 more types of halo-halo from Prito and Ginataang Halo-Halo.
We suggest you try everything here, as this restaurant offers the best fusion of Ilokano dishes you wouldn’t find elsewhere. They are open from 9 am to 9 pm daily and 7 am to 11 pm during holidays.
Grape Picking at Manguerra Farm
Just when we thought that grape picking can only be done in far countries, here in Bauang, La Union, some of us get to walk through the Grape Farm and experience picking some fruits too. There are also other products available at the Manguerra Grape Farm such as the wine, and local products as well.
If you happen to visit Manguerra Farm, please do tell the locals to not hurt dogs around the area. When we got there, we were shocked how some teenage boys stomp on a random dog’s tail to shoo them away, so that visitors can walk freely and pick some grapes on that area.
After the grape picking, we headed to our hotel to catch up some few rest before heading next to the event venue.
We were able to witness an outstanding performance from the PMA Marching Band, class of 2019, wherein they were clad in black and white uniform. Their synchronized and uniformity makes their formation and drill, very pleasing to watch.
At night, there was the street dancing competition wherein 7 contestants competed. The whole Poro Point Baywalk were dimmed and only lights worn by the dancers illuminated during the competition. The judges who were invited were Maritess Ruiz, Coach of the University of Cordillera, PJ Naciola, Panagbenga Dance Committee member Joy Gonzales, SK in Abra Boroña, and Professor Libertad as the Official Tabulator.
In the end, the Santiago Elementary School bested amongst the 7 participants and took home a grand prize of Php 110,000. It was followed by the San Jose National High School with Php 90,000, and coming in third place was the La Union National High School with Php 90,000.
Last Sunday and Monday were the highlight of this Sillag Festival wherein impressive Pyromusical show was held, an air show, and even a Skydiving Show.
It truly is a festival to be included on your bucket list. Why? It’s unique, just few hours away from the Metro, and has plenty of talented artists who can showcase the best of La Union. There are many accommodations and dining area to choose from, so prepare for a gastronomic adventure a well.
Hats off to BCDA and PPMC for the successful event. It is arguably one of the best festivals near the Metro.