Ilocos Norte kicks off ‘Paskua Mi Ditoy’ celeb, lights up traditional Christmas belen

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Highlighting its festive and unique traditions in celebrating the Christmas season, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte officially opened the ‘Paskua Mi Ditoy’ (This is how we celebrate Christmas), the province’s annual series of activities to celebrate the holiday season.

On December 9, crowds gathered in front of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol to witness the symbolic lighting of the 45-foot Christmas tree, which are adorned with lanterns made of Abel Iloko and several environment-friendly light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

Capitol Christmas Tree IlocosGovernor Imee R. Marcos, who led the countdown to the lighting, gave thanks for all the blessings of the province this year in a short speech.

“Tonight, we have much to be grateful for and just as the Christmas narratives say, we give thanks for the harvest…for being spared with the disasters this 2015,” she said.

Going away with the winter-wonderland theme last year, displays in front of the Provincial Capitol depicts a ‘Pasko sa Barrio,’ evoking an Ilocano version of belen (outdoor nativity scene) with vibrant Christmas lights illuminating the front ground of the building.

“We feature in the displays a very Filipino Christmas…with materials made out of indigenous materials…most importantly we have an Ilocano Christmas belen, the first time ever to be displayed here in the province,” said Mr. Xavier Ruiz of Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO).

He further noted that the displays aim to bring back Ilocanos to the meaning of Christmas as it upholds faith and resiliency.

‘Celebrating Christmas the Ilocano way’

Tourists and locals will definitely enjoy the holiday season across the province with the various events taking place for the entire month of December through the ‘Paskua Mi Ditoy.’

“A great part of our (Christmas) calendar is the fiestas of the different towns like Batac, Vintar and San Nicolas,” said INTO Head Aianree Racquel.

Illustrating the distinct ways Ilocanos celebrate Christmas, the fifth Tupig Cook-off on December 16 at the Paoay Church Complex will get “bigger and better.”

“For this year, we will not only feature the province’s traditional Christmas rice cake, tupig, but also the various Ilocano cuisines in general, so the event will turn out like a Christmas Food Fiesta,” Ruiz noted.

Organizers from INTO revealed that an important international visitor will be expected during the event.

“We are expecting a very important international visitor to come to the event who will experience our unique way of celebrating Christmas in Ilocos Norte specially the process of making tupig,” said Racquel.

He added that “the success of the Tupig Cook-off will ultimately nail our reputation as a food destination as the international visitor who’s coming is the ultimate arbiter in terms of food shows in the world.”

As more Ilocanos are coming home from abroad during the Christmas season, the Ilocano Migrant’s Monument will also be unveiled on December 18 in honor of their contribution to the province’s economic and social development.

Meanwhile, the provincial government is also opening 200 slots for Ilocano students and out-of-school youth to help work for 15 days in anticipation of the influx of tourists in the province during the holiday season.

It is previously reported that the Ilocos Norte’s tourism arrivals reached a 380.64% growth in the past two years.

“We want much for Christmas, indeed, and I’m certain that with your prayers, we will continue to be blessed here in Ilocos Norte,” highlighted Governor Marcos.—John Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO

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