Pamulinawen Festival celebrates the religious, patronal feast of St. William the Hermit and the cultural and historical heritage of the people in the city of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philipines every February 10. Its schedule of activities lasts for the whole month of February and thus coincides with the foundation of the Ilocos Norte, which takes place every second of February, and the celebration of Valentine’s Day.
Pamulinawen is a folk song familiar in the Northern Luzon. Believed to have originated in pre-Hispanic times, it is a courtship song that tells the story of a lady unmoved by the words of her suitor. Daughter of a chieftain, she was named after a type of hard stone thought to have come from the outer space (such as a meteorite) and used by the locals as a flint to start a spark to produce a flame to light up their cigars. These characteristics are said to be likened to the people of Laoag.
Scholars stated that the love song was sang by boatmen as they rowed their boats along bodies of water in Luzon. From a composition with a deliberate pace, it has numerous renditions of varying lyrics and tempo. Widely popular are by the artist Arman Ratuita in the 1960s, by Lea Salonga in the album Bahaghari in 2017, and by the UP Madrigal singers as introduced by National Artist Lucrecia Roces Kasilag.
History of Pamulinawen Festival
The local government of Laoag passed the Ordinance No. 3 during the time of Mayor Eulalio Siazon in 1967 that established February 10 as the date of its annual festival. Through the years, its celebration has grown grander and within the term of then Mayor Cesar Ventura it was called Pagdadapun Festival. It was renamed to Pamulinawen Festival starting in 1996. Afterwards in 2008 during the tenure of then Mayor Michael Fariñas, its calendar takes up the entire month of February.
Devotion to St. William the Hermit
Pamulinawen Festival is held in conjunction with the feast of St. William the Hermit, the patron of the city. Christianity came to Laoag through the Augustinian friars who set foot and built a humble church made of light materials in 1580. Dedicated to the patronage of St. William the Hermit, it was rebuilt in stone in 1612. When it was damaged by fire in 1843, it was repaired between 1873 and 1880 by Antonio de la Camara and Fr. Santiago Muniz.
During the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War, it became a garrison for Filipino troops and subsequently for American forces, respectively. In the years of the American occupation, the religious authorities of the Roman Catholic Church took over the church from the Aglipayan.
Pamulinawen Festival Activities
The month-long calendar of Pamulinawen Festival features many public spectacles and community activities. There are concert, trade fair, grand parade, street dance, Calesa Parade, sports, beauty pageants like Miss and Mister Laoag, Valentine’s Day program, pet show, entertainment, variety shows, cultural presentations, Dulang Food Festival, etc.
On the other hand, religious activities are taken care of by St. William Cathedral Parish. There are the nine-day novena and mass, fluvial procession, the pontifical mass on the feast day, etc.
How to reach Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
One can book a flight to Laoag International Airport. Alternatively, buses from Manila have regular trips to the city daily.
- Leilanie Adriano. Laoag marks ‘Pamulinawen’ Festival Feb. 10. Philippine News Agency. February 5, 2022. Retrieved January 28, 2023
- The Pamulinawen Festival 2020. City Government of Laoag. Retrieved January 28, 2023
- Leilanie Adriano. American circus to dazzle Laoag’s Pamulinawen Festival. Philippine News Agency.
- Pamulinawen Festival. Senate of the Philipines. Retrieved January 28, 2023
- Monette H. Herrera. Laoag welcomes festival-goers. NL at a glance. Northern Dispatch. February 5, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2023
- Church of Laoag. National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved October 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2023
- Diocese of Laoag. Claretian Publications. Retrieved January 28, 2023
- It’s fiesta time in Laoag City. Ilocos Sentinel. February 1, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2023
- Who or what does Pamulinawen really mean? City Government of Laoag. February 11, 2021. Retrieved January 28, 2023