BREAKING THROUGH: Fiestas during Christmas season add up to the revelries and merriment

Many fellow fellow Ilocanos going home on Christmas season are in for a double treat.
Apart from the usual revelries during the Christmas break, there are fiesta celebrations they look forward to.
There’s a lot of merrymaking, eating, drinking, and dancing at the village or town plaza to the tune of exuberant music rendered by live bands they call ‘combos’ thereabouts.
During these fiesta celebrations, they hold competitive activities mainly basketball games and hand out cash prizes to the winning teams.
It was a different competition they had in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur during their almost two-week town fiesta that began mid December.
The contest involved bonsai trees. Yes, Virginia, bonsai trees.
Narvacan Mayor Pablito Sanidad Sr. showed me around, inside the Philippines’ unprecedented and one of a kind solar-powered Narvacan Farmer’s Market to a place where the bonsai trees were arranged beside each other.
I will write more in my later columns about this exceptional market and Philippine wonder which was built last year during Mayor Luis Chavit Singson’s term with Sanidad as the vice mayor. Then President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated the market in March 2022 upon Mayor Chavit’s invitation.
The various bonsai trees were gathered in one section of the market on top of long tables, some of them with fruits. Those tamarind and star apple fruits hanging from branches of small trees were a sight to behold !
The bonsai plants were there not only for the competition, they were also for sale. Mayor Sanidad told me some bonsai owners pocketed as much as more than a hundred thousand pesos apiece after sale.
The mayor has left behind his lucrative law practice in Baguio City that’s been going on for about fifty years since he passed the Bar with flying colors (among the Top 10) in 1967.
He says it’s payback time to the town where he was born and raised although his friends insist that dropping his legal career is a sacrifice he has to bear.
He’s assisted by his son Pablo II, also a lawyer, in serving Narvacaneos. The younger Sanidad is the Municipal Administrator.
The mayor introduced me to him after our meeting at the town’s Farmers’ market.
Pablito is not new to public service, though. Then a young lawyer, he took office as Ilocos Sur Vice Governor together with Gov. Chavit Singson, also then a young and rising political leader, after their election in 1971. The Singson-Sanidad tandem ended the Crisologos’ reign of the province.
He had also served as Deputy Minister of Labor during the Cory Aquino administration.
When I asked him what’s his current direction as mayor of the town, he quickly responded : “Build, build, build.” I bet he’ll be pushing for more infra projects and keep them rolling and done for the benefit of his constituents.
He looks forward to completing his coffee table book ‘ Narvacan Naisangsangayan’ to follow its first edition that came out when he was still the vice mayor. The book deals with Narvacan’s colorful history and cultural heritage.
(The writer is based in Hercules City, California and is currently on assignment and vacationing in the Philippines.)

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