A Festival Honoring the Sweetest Pineapple

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Where can you find a place as festive and as grandeur in paying their homage to the ridiculously sweet, if not the sweetest pineapple in the world? Where else but in Daet, the capital town of the northernmost province of the Bicol Peninsula, Camarines Norte.

Locals and visitors swear that Daet’s Queen Formosa pineapple, although relatively smaller than other varieties, have a very tangy sweet taste and crisp texture, and best eaten fresh straight from the market. Historically, the Spaniards brought the pineapple, from its origin in central South America, to the Philippines in the mid-sixteenth century.

Presently, Camarines Norte is the fourth largest pineapple-producing province in the country, with 2,400 hectares devoted to the cultivation of pineapples.

It was in 1993 when then youthful town councilor Tito Sarion (now Daet’s incumbent mayor) saw the potential of staging “Pinyasan Festival” or Pineapple Festival, to promote the prime agricultural product of the province. He revealed before the Pinyasan, “the Peñafrancia Festival is the only established and popular festival in the Bicol Region but it is a religious festival so I thought of starting a celebration that will showcase the agricultural produce of Daet.”

“We decided to make it a vehicle, this product that is distinctive to Camarines Norte,” Sarion added, who plant pineapple himself and has heard many favorable comments about the sweetness of locally grown pineapples from the tourists who visited Daet. The festival would later harness the creativity of Daeteños in sustaining the popularity of the pineapple and fortified industries related to it.

There is now a Pineapple Island Resort-Hotel in Calasgasan, Daet, a pineapple processing plant at Basud, a locality near Daet, owned by a Chinese firm Sonzu. The local Technology and Livelihood Development Center (TLDC) under the LGU of Daet have created new fi ber products and the popular “pili-pinya pie,” Daet’s contribution to the “one town, one product” OTOP program of the Department of Trade and Industry. The center also held cooking competitions during the festival that created food recipes that include pineapple as ingredient. “We have a saying that the food in Daet will make you lose your diet,” Sarion quipped.

The Pinyasan, like most festivals, is a way of also promoting the rich culture of Daet and its people. For example, the fi rst-ever monument honoring Dr. Jose Rizal was erected by the people of Daet in December 30, 1898, barely two years after his martyrdom in Luneta. Daeteños also takes pride of having built the country’s fi rst museum dedicated to the fi rst National Artist Fernando Amorsolo. The Maestro, as he was fondly called, stayed in Daet during his childhood where he drew inspirations on the idyllic sceneries of the town that become the hallmark of his masterpieces. To pay homage to the great painter, the old municipal hall was converted into a heritage center that housed some of the works and articles written about Amorsolo.

Not to overlook is the famed Bagasbas Beach, Daet’s main attraction and is the most favorite beach in Camarines Norte Province. With its wide and long 2km stretching fi ne grey sand and promenade that spans the best part of it, Bagasbas is one of the top surfing spots in the Philippines. The beach is a safe place for both novice and experienced surfers alike.

The “Pinyasan” as the Daetenos call it has now evolved as one of the most colorful parades in the Philippines. The main part of the celebration lies with the parade of lavishly decorated fl oats and street dancers clad in colorful costumes executing unique and well-choreographed dance movements in street-theatrical presentations. It also features agro-industrial fair, beauty tilts, historical-cultural presentations and different sports events.

The Festival, now on its 22nd year of staging, is a 10-day festivity, which coincides with the town’s foundation anniversary and culminates in the religious activities in honor of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Daet, whose feast day is celebrated on June 24.

In the end, the most significant achievement of this spectacular celebration is the showcase of Daeteños’ unique arts, culture and capabilities in fostering their heritage and vast environmental resources gifted with land where the world’s sweetest pineapple abundantly grows.

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