VILLASIS—The annual Talong Festival in this town is true to the old spirit of Philippine fiestas where sharing a meal among locals and guests is one of the highlights of the celebration.
In the Pinakbet sa Kawa competition, the town’s 21 barangays cook the well-known Ilocano vegetable dish pinakbet in their unique styles and after judging, the food is served for everyone to partake.
The main ingredients of pinakbet are talong (eggplant), ampalaya, okra and tomatoes, which are all abundantly produced in this town dubbed as the Vegetable Bowl of Pangasinan.
Romy Abrenica, barangay chairman of Barraca and president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, proudly participated in cooking their pinakbet, made unique with the addition of ampalaya leaves for better nutritional value.
Abrenica, also the chairman of this year’s Pinakbet sa Kawa cookfest, said each barangay was allowed to draw P5,000 from their respective funds for the added ingredients while the municipal government provided each barangay 30 kilograms (kgs) of talong, 10 kgs of ampalaya, 10 kgs of tomatoes, four kgs of okra and two kgs of sili.
The winning pinakbet dishes will win P5,000, P3,000 and P2,000.
Before the cookfest, the festival featured more modern-day activities such as street dancing with talong still as the main theme.
This year, a new feature was introduced, the Talong Mosaic Art Design Contest participated in by elementary and high school students who created artworks using indigenous materials, agricultural seeds, bamboo and different talong varieties.–Eva Visperas