VIGAN COMES ALIVE WITH 'BINATBATAN' FESTIVAL

BinatbatanVigan, Ilocos Sur, May 4, 2003 -- The "Heritage City," as Vigan is known, burst into merry colors yesterday as it staged its Second Binatbatan Festival, luring hordes of local and foreign tourists to its streets lined up with ancestral houses.

The festival got its name from the Iluko term batbatin, or separating cotton balls from the seeds of the local fruit tree kapas sanglay.

The cotton balls are then spun and used in weaving the abel, which Chinese merchants then residing in Ciudad Fernandina, the Vigan of old, exported and which was among the local products shipped during the galleon trade from the 15th to the 18th century.

No wonder, abel products were showcased during the festival. And Vigan Mayor Eva Singson-Medina is all agog in promoting them.

She said they want to bring back the traditional Iluko hand-weaving, and churn out not just the abel cloth but products made from it.

Other festival events included calesa and Ramada décor contests, and, of course, a showcase of Vigan’s delicacies like the royal bibingka, longganisa and empanada.

A local pastry called masa podrida, which dates back to the early 1960s, "re-appeared" during the festival. It is said to be the favorite of action star Fernando Poe Jr., a frequent Vigan visitor.

Medina was thankful that despite the SARS scare, tourists and dignitaries like Spanish Ambassador Ignacio Sagaz, still trooped to Vigan to take part in the Binatbatan Festival. (By Artemio Dumlao, Star)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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