This world’s heritage town of Ilocos Sur due to its baroque church inscribed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will launch its maiden 3- day “Panagungar” Festival on April 12 to 14.
This developed when local officials headed by Mayor Thelma S. Florendo through the initiative of Councilor Rodrigo “Henry” Cabatu in coordination with Rev. Father Amor Cabaccang – the parish priest of the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion church, came to realize the significance of having a unique festival to promote tourism and the town’s local products.
According to Councilor Cabatu, the chairman on tourism committee in the town’s council and the lead organizer of the festival, told that the “Panagungar” Festival will be formally open on April 12 coinciding the Easter Sunday- the last day of the Holy Week celebration.
“We thinked of this kind of festival to create a feast that established an identity of our town which will be done during our annual feast,” he said.
The word “Panagungar” is an Ilokano term meaning resurrection – a symbol of new life and new hope, in which the festival is the “feast of resurrection.”
“We launch this festival to maximize our existing resources in promoting our tourism industry and our One Town One Product (OTOP), which is the “cane vinegar” and other locally- made by-products from sugar cane like the Balikotsa (hardened sugar cane jam) and sinambong,” Cabatu said.
“Our Panagungar Festival is also a symbol for newly born economic development programs towards the booming demand of our local products,” Cabatu added.
He disclosed that one of the significant highlights of the festival is the streetdancing to be performed by the selected students from the different schools in the town.
“The streetdancing participants will perform worship dance and will be wearing colorful and artistic cloths holding the different products of our town,” he told.
Cabatu also disclosed that series of meetings of the festival committee regarding the festival are being held for the success of the feast.
The Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion church in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, one of four of the UNESCO enscribed Baroque Churches of the Philippines on December 11, 1993, was a World Heritage Site and was built on top of a hill giving visitors a panoramic view of the town, the green fields and the blue sea in the horizon. One can reach the church via an 82-steps stairway. The church was built in 1765 by the Augustinians; it served as a fortress during the Philippine Revolution in 1896.
Aside from the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion church, the other three churches inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1993 were the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila; the Miag-ao Church in Iloilo; and the San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.
Meanwhile, the other UNESCO World Heritage site in Ilocos Sur was the historic city of Vigan dubbed as the “living museum of the world” due to its preserved century old- Spanish houses.