Saturday, July 11, 2015

Empanada festival: A celebration of good taste and good life

Staff reporters

BATAC CITY—If there is one thing Batac is truly proud of, it would be its famous empanada-making business that has nurtured its people over the years.

Embracing a century-old culture and culinary tradition, Batac’s empanada claims to be the best and tastiest in the country with its distinctive Ilokano taste courtesy of its local ingredients: fresh grated papaya, mongo, chopped longganisa, and egg. The crispy orange wrapper and is made of rice flour that is deep-fried.

The celebration of this city’s famous traditional fast food attracting locals and tourists elsewhere comes with the City Charter Day of Batac every 23rd of June.

Every year, the City Government of Batac led by Mayor Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta commemorate the city’s charter day celebration to further promote its famous One-Town, One Product, the Batac empanada.

Empanada City
The Batac empanada festival has already become an annual activity since Batac became a city in. The festival highlights the making of empanada through a dance parade and colorful floats well represented by clustered barangays composed of men, women and youngsters including local officials here.  

This year, the weeklong celebration kicked off with Empanada Art Day and an exhibit at the Batac City, showcasing the festival’s simple beginnings and retrospective shows.

Aside from its grand street dance parade and dance showdown participated by its clustered barangays, this year’s celebration also came with the inauguration and launch of the Save the Quioait River, including its mountains and watersheds. 

Featuring the richness and beauty of the Ilocano culture, the festival is expected to promote its food heritage by attracting tourists while helping farmers boost their livelihood.

Organizers said the process of making of empanada manifests the social behavior and distinct characteristics of Ilocanos as industrious, resourceful, creative, simple and frugal.  

For Atty. Chito Nalupta, one of the organizers, he said the festival is something that all the people of Batac can relate to. It is something that binds the people together considering that all have experiences relevant to and connected with the Batac empanada since their childhood.

“Batac City is now more widely and popularly known in the Philippines and abroad because of the Batac empanada. When one speaks of Batac, what immediately comes to one’s senses is the Batac empanada,” Mr. Nalupta said as he underscored the festival has already become a byword attracting local and foreign tourists to have a taste of this historic city’s best tasting empanada.

Charter day
Meanwhile,    Mayor Nalupta said the celebration should not only focus on the Empanada Festival but more so on the Charter Day—the day Batac was converted into a city in 2007.

Mr. Nalupta thanked all the people behind the success of the celebration including the teachers and students, non-government organizations, city government employees, choreographers from all over the province, judges, the 43 barangays and also all the foreign and domestic tourists who came and watched the twin celebrations.

But more so, the mayor thanked the Almighty for “the continuous blessings that without Him, the successful celebration would not be possible. “

Cultural commitment
The three-term mayor underscored his commitment for tourism and cultural development since he assumed the mayoralty post in 2007.

The Empanada Festival was born a year later in 2008 as it became the vehicle for this new city’s charter day celebration.

The songs and dances performed in the Empanada Festival were conceptualized in the processing and making of empanada with the “Panagmula Iti Pagay” [Planting of Rice]; “Panagani Ken Pangbayo Ti Irik” [Harvesting and Pounding of Rice]; “Panagmula, Panagburas ken Panagmula Iti Balatong” [Planting, Harvesting and Cooking of Mongo]; “Panagmula, Panagburas ken Panag-gadgad Iti Papaya” [Planting, Harvesting and Grating of Papaya]; “Panagukkon Ti Itlog” [Gathering of Eggs]; “Panagaramid Iti Longganisa” [Making of Longganisa]; “Panagmasa Iti Bel-laay” [Making of the Rice Dough]; “Panagluto Ti Empanada” [Cooking of the Empanada] and the “Panaglaku Ken Pan-nangan Ti Empanada” [Selling and Eating of Empanada].

To add more fun and culture to the celebration, the city government sought the assistance of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in 2009. Thus, choreographer workshop on street dancing was conducted by the NCCA through their Speakers and Resource Persons Bureau Program.

From 2009, NCCA officials and personalities are being invited to the Empanada Festival.

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