THE Ilocos Norte provincial government on Wednesday officially opened its annual Christmas celebration “Paskua Mi Ditoy” with a capitol light-up in Laoag City.
“Paskua Mi Ditoy” which literally means “Our Christmas Here,” was launched as Ilocos Norte’s Christmas tourism brand in 2011.
It is a month-long celebration underscoring the customs and traditions of Ilocanos, according to the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO).
Aianree Raquel, INTO officer, said the provincial government illuminated a 45-foot tall Christmas tree in front of the capitol with an Ilocano belen (outdoor Nativity scene) backed by vibrant lights to highlight the very Filipino Christmas atmosphere.
“We want to showcase indigenous materials as we aim to remind Ilocanos of the meaning of Christmas and to uphold faith and resiliency as cultural values,” Raquel added.
On December 16, Paskua Mi Ditoy will be highlighted by the 6th Annual Solid North Tupig Cook-Off in Dingras town.
Raquel said the cook-off was conceptualized in 2010 at the beginning of Gov. Imee Marcos’ administration.
Eventually, it became a highlight of the province’s Christmas celebrations except in 2013.
“The cook-off is held annually to bolster the market for our tupig, which is Ilocandia’s famous Christmas rice cake, and to preserve this cultural heritage,” Raquel said.
In 2015, the contest was held at the San Agustin Church Complex in Paoay town that had Laoag City’s Divine Word College, Marie Joy Sarrat Tupig Pride and Laoag City as first placers in their respective categories.
“With the cook-off Christmas activity, we encourage the innovation of traditional cuisine, with contingents deviating from the usual line-up of tupig ingredients and using roasted peanuts, cheese, langka (jackfruit), and even gamet (Ilocos black seaweed) in their creations,” Raquel said.