Bangus Festival is a yearly celebration in Dagupan City and it is claimed as the longest running festival in the country, held for one whole month beginning on April 1 to May 1 at Pangasinan’s traditional Pistay Dayat or Sea Festival. It highlights the local industry of bangus or milkfish – the Philippine national fish. It also promotes Dagupan City as "Bangus Capital of the World" and establishes the city as a major tourist destination.
Bangus Festival was started by the City mayor Benjamin S. Lim to lay emphasis to the Bonuan bangus that has a unique taste of its own. It also becomes the best advertisement for the world’s tastiest milkfish.
Bangus festival starts with the ceremonial lighting of 1,000 barbecue grills for cooking almost 10,000 bangus in a scorching kilometer stretch; you can smell the delicious aroma all around. This is the reason why the country holds the Guinness World Record for the longest barbecue grill.
The event is one of the major and most exciting festivals in the Philippines. It has a streetdance parade featuring colorful and striking costumes. The performance wears attractive clothes depicting the harvest of bangus. Some have props of big fish, fishing nets or a big illustration of sea. They do some fishing movements with rhythmic dancing in the beat of drums. They also interpret how bangus are harvested in the fishponds the traditional way. The parade pass through Eternal Gardens, Burgos St., Perez Boulevard, M.H. Del Pilar St., A.B. Fernandez Avenue and down to the city plaza where the participants perform their respective and prepared rituals. The participants come from different cities and municipalities of the province.
During the Bangus Festival, hundreds of cooks, chefs, and humble housewives participate in the fish cooking competition. Grilling is not the only thing stressed in the competition. While the competition goes on, hundreds of chefs compete to cook the tastiest and most creative bangus dish. This competition is famous by the name "101 Ways to Cook Bangus" competition.
Another competition witnessed during this festival is the Bangus Rodeo. This comprises a bangus eating competition followed by a contest for the fish themselves. This is the most unique aspect of this event. The heaviest and the biggest fishes are awarded with prizes.
The festival has also a search for Ms. Dagupan participated by children 8 years old and below. You will see and witness kids who are smart, talented and cute. For people who are fat but talented and confident to show who they really are, Binibining Bilbiling Dagupan are right competition for them.
The events also features sports activities like basketball, bowling, karate, boat racing, and mud wrestling. It also features entertainment and shows with special guests like celebrities and local bands. Their performances give more fun, enjoyment and excitement to the people. Of course, the trade fair exhibit is also one of the most awaited activities in this festival. Locals display their best fresh and processed products.
The Dagupan Bangus Festival has grown into an institutional trademark for the city of Dagupan, giving it a distinct symbol of identity derived from its most popular product – the milkfish. It is a thanksgiving for the abundant milkfish the place have.
How to get there
From Manila there are buses ply the route going to Dagupan in the province of Pangasinan like Victory Liner, Dagupan Bus Company, Five Star and Fermina Express. The Dagupan Bus Co has a terminal in EDSA cor. E. Rodriguez Ave. (QC).