Asin Festival is an annual festival in Dasol, Pangasinan, Philippines that celebrates its salt industry and the people working in the numerous salt-plains that dot the town. It is held every first Saturday of Lent and happens in sync with the religious feast day of the town patron, San Vicente Ferrer (St. Vincent Ferrer), which takes place every first Friday of Lent.
Asin is the local word for salt. Salt and salt-making are a way of life not only in the town but the entire province too. The name Pangasinan is derived from same root word and it means a salt-making place or where salt is made.
History of Asin Festival
The very first Asin Festival was held in Dasol on February 15-21, 2015 within the administration of Mayor Noel Nacar. It was first proposed way back in 2007, and it was in 2015 that the plans pushed through and the fest was mounted.
Asin Festival was envisaged to place the town as the capital of salt in Pangasinan. It gives a toast to the salt industry in Dasol, recognize the livelihood that it provides, and celebrate the culture that springs from salt-making.
It is also conceptualized as a way to promote tourism and encourage visitors to check out the town’s many beautiful spots such as Tambobong Beach and its hundreds of caves.
Salt-making in Dasol
The pioneer in salt-making in Dasol was Jeconias Bunao from Barangay Hermosa who began production in the 1930s. His family continues to work in salt production up to the present day.
Salt is an important food seasoning and a chemical compound that supports life. Making it is a laborious process and requires clean seawater supply and long stretches of warm, dry days. In Dasol, production season begins towards the end of the year (December) and peaks around summer (April) when one can expect small to zero chances of rain showers and there is consistent daylight. During the rainy season, salt beds are utilized as fish ponds.
In producing salt, fresh seawater is brought to a temporary containing area called salt lake where the initial evaporation of its water content takes place and where it undergoes a seven-step process. It is later transferred to salt beds, which are empty, rectangular fields whose floors are made of bricks. As water sublimates and transforms into gaseous form, what remains are fine salt crystals. These are scraped through the use of harrows and piled into white mounds. They are then scooped to containers called kaing, which are wicker baskets of woven twigs that have a wide mouth and narrow bottom and are designed with handles for easy transport.
Salt from the town is said to be of unique quality due to the traditional means of its production that has been handed through generations. It is sold in the markets of Metro Manila and northern Luzon: Region 1 (Ilocos region), Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), and Region (Central Luzon).
In 2015, there were about 200 salt-makers in the town and a total of 100 hectares of land allocated to salt-making. Out of its 18 component barangays, eight were engaged in its production such as the barangays of Amalbalan, Bobonot, Gais-Guipe, Hermosa, Magsaysay, Malacapas, Poblacion, and Uli.
Devotion to St. Vincent Ferrer
Asin Festival is also an expression of the devotion to San Vicente Ferrer, the patron of the town. While the fest was organized in 2015, Such a devotion began during the colonial period.
According to history, the Dominicans were the first Spanish missionaries who set foot in Pangasinan. After giving up the parishes they administered in Mindanao to the Jesuits in the 19th century, Augustinian Recollects were given the western part of Pangasinan as a mission which would become the foundation of the Diocese of Alaminos. They founded the church in Dasol and placed it under the patronage of St. Vincent Ferrer.
The town meanwhile was organized in 1793.
Asin Festival Activities
The religious activities of Asin Festival is organized by St. Vincent Ferrer Parish. It starts with a nine-day novena and masses, and on the feast day there is a pontificial, concelebrated high mass.
On the other hand, the municipal government organizes the secular activities. Its calendar is movable because the patronal feast of the town depends on the timing of Lent. Not only its date that varies, the length of its schedule also differs from year to year: seven days in 2015 (February 15 to 21), six days in 2019 (March 5 to 10), and five days in 2020 (February 25 to February 29). There are also pre-festival activities such as
Several high points of the festival are Agri-Tourism Trade Fair, beauty pageants such as Miss Dasol Asin Festival, ritual dance competition, street dancing, and the grand parade. Other activities include drum and lyre exhibition, cook fest, fitness and wellness activities, fireworks display, cultural presentations, sports, mass weddings, talent contest, traditional games, etc.
How to reach Dasol, Pangasinan
The nearest airport to the town of Dasol is the Lingayen Airport. Travel time is about two hours and the trip covers about 80 kilometers.
- Timothy Walker. Dasol, Pangasinan, holds first ever “Asin Festival” – a celebration of salt. February 18, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2023
- Asin Festival. Municipal Government of Dasol. March 20, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2023
- Eva Visperas. Pangasinan town to stage first Asin Festival. The Philippine Star. October 26, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2023
- Asin Festival sa DASOL, PANGASINAN. Balita.net. May 27, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2023
- History. Municipal Government of Dasol. Retrieved February 12, 2023
- Angel Martinez Cuesta, OAR. The Augustinian Recollects in the Philippines: Turbulence and Expansion in the 19th Century. Agustinos Recoletos. Retrieved February 12, 2023
- History of the Archdiocese. Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Retrieved Febuary 12, 2023