Valenzuela City, Nov. 6, 2001 - The Valenzuela City Hall has launched the popular "Putong Polo Festival" in rites honoring the oldest church in the city, the 378-year-old San Diego de Alcala Parish Church in Barangay Polo.

To revive the popularity of the local delicacy "Putong Polo," local officials led by Mayor Bobbit Carlos and the festival committee organized by Rita Carlos said the week-long festival was an offering to San Diego de Alcala, the patron saint of the oldest church in the city.

Carlos said a bazaar and competition for "Putong Polo" makers complete this year’s festivities.

"Putong Polo," a popular Filipino delicacy, originated from Valenzuela, formerly known as Polo town in the 1920s. This local rice cake was a recipient of the Manuel Quezon Presidential Award as a native delicacy known for its exotic taste and long shelf life at the Manila Carnival in 1931.

He said the delicacy’s popularity has not been confined within city limits. "Putong Polo" has been a regular fare in the posh tables for decades at the Manila Hotel, Sulo Hotel, Holiday Inn and Aristocrat Restaurant, among others. It is also still being exported to Hong Kong, Japan and other Asian countries, a source of precious dollars to buoy up the economy.

A "Putong Polo" parade will take place in the morning of November 11. It will highlight objects made from Putong Polo by city residents who joined in a competition using the delicacy as material. The "masterpieces" will stay at the San Diego de Alcala Parish patio for a whole-day exhibit.

According to Carlos, the present San Diego de Alcala church was built over the remains of the oldest church after it was bombed on February 10, 1945 by American troops trying to liberate the then town of Valenzuela from the retreating Japanese forces in World War II. (Jerry Botial )

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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