02 December 2012

2012 Ala Eh Festival: the Trade Fair

If you are from Batangas, don’t be a stranger to your own province. The 2012 Ala Eh Festival to commemorate the foundation of the province is being held this week in Tanauan City. If you are not, then you have a reason to pay us a visit. The festival lasts until this Saturday and the full schedule is here.

I went to see the Trade Fair this morning as these fairs are where one tends to find itty-bitty things one does not normally find in the malls and supermarkets. I have lived in this province for practically my entire life and I still discovered a thing or two just from my short visit that I didn’t previously know.

For instance, I didn’t know that there is this quirky little biscuit made in the town of Lobo which has just as quirky a name: uukan. God’s blood; but who calls food that way! I bought a pack, of course, out of curiosity if nothing else; and even if the biscuit’s name sounds a lot like the place where you poop.

I understand from those I spoke to that there was a competition for best booth among the towns and cities represented. Some of the booths were really well thought of and creatively decorated. Others, well, were manned by very nice people.
Then, there was this strange little fruit that looked like a jackfruit but is called the kamansî. No, it is not citrus at all; and, indeed, the lady in charge of the stall told me it’s a small jackfruit and that the tree which bore it looks like a jackfruit tree as well. I didn’t buy because I’m not fond of the jackfruit to begin with.

From the Taysan booth, I allowed myself to be cajoled into purchasing a bottle of passion fruit wine. I intend to see if it will fill me with passion. Seriously, I have tasted other local fruit wines before; but today was the first time I was seeing wine made from passion fruit.

Those of you who are ignorant city dwellers, passion fruit is a viny plant that bears this hollow round fruit with really sour seeds. I asked the kind woman at the stall if the wine was sweet or dry; and from the look she gave me, I instantly knew that it was a bad question to ask.

Regrettably, not all the province’s cities and municipalities are represented. Unless I missed its booth, then my Mom’s hometown of Nasugbu was among those who passed up the opportunity to sell itself. I thought this was particularly disappointing because Calatagan and Tuy, both a stone’s throw from Nasugbu, had booths.

Some of the municipalities represented themselves as one would expect them to. For instance, the Taal booth had on display an assortment of objects to kill people with. Joke. The balisong, of course, is a well-known product of the town.

Sadly – and this is probably just a reflection of the fate of the industry in the town of Taal – the booth did not have on display the once-famous barong Tagalog embroidery. Those who still do the traditional embroidery are, regrettably, a dying breed. The younger generation of Taaleños, it is said, prefer to be doing something else.

Other towns represented themselves in ways other than what one could probably be forgiven for thinking they would.

For instance, Calatagan I would have thought would adorn its booth with an assortment of seaside products. Instead, the booth had an assortment of candles and other figurines. I thought that was strange; although the two people manning the booth explained that the products on display were all from the town’s industries.

Talisay was another town whose booth also avoided the stereotype. Instead of having lakeside products as one would probably have expected, the town’s booth looked like a plant nursery. Fair enough! I see a lot of those roadside on the way to the town.

I understand from those I spoke to that there was a competition for best booth among the towns and cities represented. Some of the booths were really well thought of and creatively decorated. Others, well, were manned by very nice people.

That is just a nice way of saying that a marketing seminar ought to be held with compulsory attendance for all local governments.

In all fairness, the staffs of the Provincial Information and Tourism Offices were very helpful. I even helped myself to some brochures and flyers that they made available for free.

I hope to cover the Street Dancing later this week and I just hope typhoon Pablo doesn’t spoil the party. If you live anywhere near, go pay Tanauan a visit. Apart from the municipal booths, there are also numerous other company booths and a wide assortment of products and services to keep you interested.

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