Apart from the picturesque tourist spots and hospitable natives, festivities all around the Philippines continue to attract foreign (and local) visitors. One of the most awaited festivals in the country is Dagupan’s Bangus Festival.
As a celebration of the city’s rich milkfish industry, participants can be seen wearing bangus costumes from the 3rd of April to the last day of the month.
How to Go to Bangus Festival in Dagupan
Travelers may take a bus or use their private car if they want to witness Bangus Festival. The trip to Dagupan may take up to four to seven hours, depending on the traffic and the time of travel.
Several bus companies such as Victory Liner, Dagupan Bus Company, Five Star, and Fermina Express offer direct trips to Dagupan. The cheapest fare one can find can be around PHP250 to PHP500 per passenger.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys, buses, and tricycles are common in the area. Each public vehicle has signboards, making it easier for travelers to get around. Additionally, there are always friendly natives who are more than willing to help with the directions.
During the Bangus Festival season, expect some roads to be closed to give way to the festival-related events. Tolerable traffic can also be expected in the city’s main roads.
What to Expect during the Bangus Festival
- Milkfish products, lots of it. It’s been told that Dagupan is home to the tastiest and most delicious milkfish species in the world. These special products are prepared by the locals and are sold at reasonable prices.
- Parade of dancers. The Bangus Festival boasts of a street party where dancers and performers go around the city wearing happy faces and vibrant costumes inspired by milkfish. During the parade, participants can be seen dancing while showcasing the bountiful harvest of milkfish for the year.
- Grillin’ party on the streets. One of the main highlights of the festival is the street party where locals and tourists grill about 10,000 milkfish! Having clinched the title of longest milkfish grill in the entire world, this event happens along Fernandez Avenue, a major road in Dagupan.
In 2005, participants built a two-kilometer grill and prepared more than 8,000 kilos of milkfish.
Editorial credit: Kim David / Shutterstock.com
- Cooking contests. Chefs and cooking experts join various cooking contests throughout the festival. Usually, participants are asked to cook bangus in a variety of ways. Choosing the winner is simple: the cook who has prepared the tastiest milkfish dish becomes the champion.
- Eating contest.Aside from the cooking contests, there is a competition where contestants need to debone a milkfish and eat the meat in the fastest time possible.
- Exhibits. Prior the event, the organizers will look for the heaviest milkfish caught. It will be displayed during the Bangus Festival for people to see. The organizers also look for the most beautiful milkfish, that one with the shiniest fins and fattest belly.
- Food strips. Food stalls are everywhere during the course of the event. Snacks, native delicacies, refreshments, and even pasalubongs can be bought at these stores.
Tips While Attending Bangus Festival
The Bangus Festival is a wonderful occasion not only for the Dagupeños, but for visitors as well. Here are some things to consider if you want to experience Bangus Festival.
- Take loads of photos
The streets are filled with rich and bright colors, making them great subjects for your photos. Bring your camera and take snaps of the dancing participants, the must-taste food, and the engaging activities during the festival.
- Wear comfy clothes
The Bangus Festival takes place during summer, so make sure you wear light and comfy tops and shorts. Also, bring enough hankies and an umbrella to protect yourself from the intense heat.
- Be prepared
Bring a bag with the basic necessities like sunscreen, sunnies, a hat, and a water bottle, to name a few. Make sure that your cell phone and camera are fully charged.
Where to Eat
While in Dagupan, don’t miss out on one of the best parts of visiting an unfamiliar place: eating! Dubbed the “Kitchen of the North”, here are some restaurants you have to try.
1. Matutina’s and Gerry’s Seafood House
Located in Tondaligan, Dagupan, this restaurant is home to succulent kare-kare and seafood dishes. Matutina’s is one of the oldest institutions that serve delicious seafood but there are also gluten-free options. In addition, the restaurant has wide parking space.
2. Ciudad Elmina Restaurant
Stuff yourself with insatiable servings of pork and fish dishes at Ciudad Elmina Restaurant. At this eatery, guests can catch fish at the pond and have them cooked right away. The restaurant’s interior looks like a modern bahay kubo, making you feel at home.
3. Silverios Seafood
Silverios Seafood offers guests a pleasurable dining experience with delicious dishes like oyster ceviche and fish sinigang. Yum!
Other Things to Do
Image credit: @TondaliganBeach FB page
Make the most out of your Dagupan trip by visiting these nearby attractions.
- Ride the waves at Bonuan Tondaligan Beach. Escape the busy city life and enjoy water activities at Bonuan Tondaligan Beach. You can bring your surfboard here and ride the strong waves. A breathtaking sunset can also be enjoyed at the beach.
- Appreciate the beauty of Pantal River. Nature lovers will surely appreciate Pantal River, one of the most important rivers in Pangasinan. If you’re lucky enough, you can score a boat ride for free. All you have to do is ask the boat operator.
- Visit Dagupan City Museum. Learn more about the rich culture of Dagupan by visiting its museum. Highly accessible, the museum is right across the town hall and city park. Here, you can find historical artifacts and relics of helmets from World War 2. The best thing about the museum is that the admission is free!
- Join the river tours. Just a few years ago, the local tourism board launched the Island Barangay River Tours to promote the city’s island barangays of Pugaro, Carael, Salapingao, Calmay, and Lomboy. It also aimed to boost the fishery industry in the city.
- Ride a kalesa at night. You can hire a kalesa along Dagupan’s main streets. Wander around as you enjoy the sights of lights with your loved ones.
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