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La Trinidad, Benguet: Proud host of annual strawberry festival

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—After getting the Guinness Book of World Records nine years back, this town continued celebrating the strawberry festival in the month of March.

“Everybody loves strawberries and visitors make a bee line to La Trinidad to buy these plump red berries straight from the fields,” said a strawberry farmer while tending to her plants at the strawberry fields in this town.

After the successful staging of Baguio City’s Panagbenga 2013, this capital town welcomes visitors and residents to its strawberry festival which runs the whole month of March until April 5.

A melting pot of different cultures coming from different provinces who trade vegetables, flower and berries, La Trinidad became popular especially with the strawberry festival conceived 13 years ago.

Whether it is the shoga, sweet Charlie or the festival variety, strawberry picking has attained a status among tourists visiting Baguio City, the town being only 3 kilometers from the city.

La Trinidad is known as the salad bowl of the north, the rose garden of the country and the Philippines’s strawberry capital.  It landed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2004 with the “Largest Strawberry Shortcake” prepared by several bakers during the town’s strawberry festival. The winning piece weighed 9,662.23 kilograms (21,213.40 pounds) and thousands of visitors had a bite of the biggest strawberry shortcake ever made worldwide.

La Trinidad produces the bulk of the strawberry produced in Benguet, with the majority recorded within the months of November until April, or the cold months of the year. La Trinidad, the capital town of the province of Benguet, is a valley where the famous strawberry farms are located.

“Many come to experience strawberry picking and have a taste of the fresh berries coming straight from the farms, said Basilia Tinioso, 52, who had been into strawberry production for 25 years.

This year the festival is themed “Sowing the Seeds of Meaning Friendships,” and highlights a civic and cultural parade, street dance, Owik, Tayao, Strawberry Football Cup, Strawberry Boxing Cup, and the Rose Wedding.

The Rose wedding was a brainchild of Mayor Greg Abalos who in a mass wedding, weds couples in a first-class ceremony and reception rites, with the big strawberry cake as a treat for all the 60 couples and the guests.

“The event aims to give couples who opt to get married civilly during the height of the festival a special ceremony, providing an innovation from the common marriage rites,” Abalos said.

Barangay Bahjong in this town produces the best and the most number of roses which are sold in Baguio City and brought to Metro Manila and other provinces for sale.

The events and program committee of the Strawberry Festival has come up with activities for the annual festivity, which includes a Breakfast at the Park or also known as “Duting Tan Dukto” where duting meaning strawberries, and dukto or sweet potato would be served as breakfast together with coffee.

Abalos said that this year’s Strawberry Festival does not only feature the municipality’s well-known luscious strawberries and by-products but also their culture and the town’s semi-temperate vegetables and cut flowers.

The “Owik Tan Tayao,” a native rite and Indigenous Peoples’ Night was the main event where pigs were butchered for everybody to partake. This was done in merry making with the sounding of the gongs and the community dancing doing the tayao or native dance.

Liza T. Agoot

In Photo: Arsenia Tagpuno, winner of the cake-decorating contest, was adjudged the best for depicting the festival theme “Sowing the Seeds of Friendship” on her cake. She decorated the winning entry with edible figurines of the Igorot workers tending the strawberry farms of Benguet province.  (Liza T. Agoot)






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