Adivay marches on

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By Danilo P. Padua, PhD

“ Like many booths, it displays harvested cacao fruit. It is not far-fetched to think that the province of Benguet will soon become an important source of raw materials for chocolate.”

This year, 2023, na one-two-three tayo ng Adivay. It is not of course the spiteful type. It is actually the festive kind.
It took only one year after hibernating for two years, for Adivay to march gleefully on. There is no doubt about that. It is now fully standing on its own sturdy feet.
It maybe a little ironic that this year is the 123rd founding anniversary of Benguet; the consecutive initial numbers being associated, in local parlance, to trickery. It’s also the time when Adivay flashed its great potential as a tourist attraction, in my mind.
Just look at the Agri-tourism fair ground. On entering the place, you are at once delighted to see the well-kept setting. It is too inviting for somebody to hesitate not getting inside the booths. Whether you start at a booth on one end or the other end, you will immediately notice the difference from last year or the other previous editions.
O f course, I never missed any edition of the festival. In fact, in the first three editions, my family was actually a stall lessee-catering to the food needs of hungry visitors.
The Agri-tourism booths of the 13 municipalities of Benguet are a sight to behold. The landscaping are attended to carefully bringing pleasure to the eyes of the beholders. They are clean. The displays are orderly kept, not cluttered. The landscaping was a vast improvement from the previous years.
The booths themselves are obviously considered as so vital to the overall appreciation of visitors. They are unique from each other, making visitors to start thinking of what they will be like next year. According to some that I asked, they found the booths wider and more accommodating. Obviously, they are not first time visitors in the fair.
Let’s try to walk through fleetingly to some booths. From the last letter, Tublay booth, you will meet a mascot, and the announcement that there will be mascot competition for the first time. You will find better-packaged processed products inside-which is also true in all other booths.
One of those that caught my attention was the Lemon-ginger candy. To me, it is so nice but since it is a bit spicy, the product maybe a click to the older generation but not necessarily so for the younger ones. It could be a winner.
Tublay is amply showcasing its tourism attractions like caves, falls, and its hot spring/s.
Tuba, like most booths, displays many healthy snack foods in good packaging materials. Visitors must be careful as its booth is guarded by an eagle about to land. It has pickled veggies like radish. Its incipient silkworm cocoon production is an display. Thanks to a tie up with a Japanese partner.
For Sablan, its fruit vinegar industry is in full display. For this, it is grateful for the help of ATI and the DA. They said, that about 35% of the Sablan farmers are already growing various fruits; many of them though are still backyard growers. This allows them to have a good supply of fresh fruits for processing. They discard for processing the fruits that are deteriorating.
More farmers were enticed to go for processing and marketing of dehydrated fruits after undergoing the necessary training . Problem is, they don’t have the necessary dehydrator equipment. Calling for benefactors, or even investors.
The booth and landscaping of La Trinidad merged modern with the traditional with aplomb. They are keeping with the times without losing sight of the past. Inside you will find history-from the older times to the modern.
Like many booths, it displays harvested cacao fruit. It is not far-fetched to think that the province of Benguet will soon become an important source of raw materials for chocolate.
Of course, strawberry is the main product and decoration in its booth. But for how long? The very rapid increase in L.T.’s population through local migration is threatening strawberry’s continued existence in the municipality.
Through its displays, La Trinidad is also showing the way in the organic production guarantee system.
The booth of Mankayan showcases more material culture than others. At the same time, it exhibits its turmeric and ginger teas in better packaging materials. One of the interesting content of the Kapangan booth is the showcasing of vertical agriculture using available local material, specifically the bamboo which is abundantly growing in the town.
To the uninitiated, the display of basi and muscovado in the Kibungan booth is a surprise. The town is better known for its vegetables and even heirloom rice of course. But yes, they grow sugarcane over there.
Itogon, surprisingly has minimal exhibit related to gold, the gem being its One-Town-One-Product. But to me, it is one of the leading towns if one talks of its focus/foci based on its displays and as corroborated by interviews of those manning its booth. They now have coffee in drip bags, tea in tea bags, and the Dulche chocolate brand that originated in the town is now expanding.
The town is now focused on agri-fisheries and on MSMEs whose products are related to apiary, poultry (it is booming), meat processing (they now have their own longganisa brand), organic produce, and heirloom rice. They have also their own yoghurt, peanut butter, mushroom with alamang which is DTI-assisted(there is an interested Korean buyer for this product but the processor can not produce the desired volume)
Kabayan has “Sinegseg”-packaged dried taro, stems and leaves. It is a healthy, great tasting snack item. It originated the camote vinegar. Bokod and Bakun has the usual displays, but the former showed its newly-opened tourism destination: the Banao river
Buguias, a known vegetable producer, showcased dried Rhubarb which is ready-to-eat or used for jam. They also have carrot soap, and a pickled garlic. Bakun has the usual displays
For Atok, the most interesting were its vertical agriculture using PVC pipes, and its Seaweed Crisp-a nutritious snack food. History of sub-tropical vegetable production in the town is on full display there. It also includes the first time when strawberry was planted in Benguet. Other historical information can be gathered also from the town’s booth.
Most of the booths showed etag (sun-dried) and kinuday or kini-ing, heirloom rice and many more but lesser information on tourism.
I enumerated, some of the interesting items that one can find in the various booths for interested visitors, business people, possible donors.
While the fair is visited by a lot of people, the sales of the booths, according to those manning them, are not that brisk. The booths though are a delight for social media posting.
Go and visit Adivay 2023, I think the best version so far. The Agri-tourism fair closes on the 24th while the Trade fair ends on the 26th. Better to visit in the morning when people are not yet swarming. In the late afternoon, people will already arrive in droves, and you may not be able to appreciate fully what you want to see-and buy.
There are still a lot of activities to be done such as the Parade, Grand Canao, and Battle of the Bands on Nov. 23.
Congratulations to the officialdom of the province led by Gov. Diclas and to all those involved in the preparations and conduct of various activities.**


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