Balungao Goat Festival
A travel journal that will give you a pleasant view of people, places, food, culture, history and events from a refreshing perspective
IN the Philippines, goats are integral to every special occasion such as birthdays, baptisms, weddings, and fiestas. Goats are very popular among Filipinos because they require low capital investment, fit the small farm condition, and multiply fast. Cooking goat meat is part of the Filipino cuisine as everyone enjoys dishes like kaldereta (tomato based stew with goat meat and liver paste or spread), pinapaitan (broth with goat innards, flavored with bile, tamarind and chilies), ginising (half cooked stir fried goat skin and some innards), sinampalukang “one set” composed of the goat’s head and legs in tamarind broth.
In Balungao, town, the Goat Festival is celebrated in time with the town fiesta. Why a festival for goats? I’ve learned that the goat is the town’s “One Town, One Product” (OTOP). The Goat Festival is founded in 2006 by then Councilor Philipp G. Peralta now town mayor, who was the chairman of the Agriculture Sector; together with the Municipal Agriculture Office. Integrated farming of native and imported breed of goats has increased and grown. The Balungao Integrated Bio-Organic Farm is one of the farms in the area that have introduced technology and environmental sustainability for improved productivity. Highly notable is their use of African night crawlers to process organic waste through vermicasting.
The recent Balungao town fiesta in honor of their patron St. Joseph, featured the singing contest Tinig Balungao, sports activities, a photography contest, Miss Gay Balungao, the Grand Parade, Drum and Lyre Competition, the Street Dancing Competiton, Goat Festival and other community activities.
I was invited by Riza Rodriguez Peralta, committee chair of the street dancing competition to judge 4 contingents who sashayed their dance moves and goat inspired costumes. The group that won and impressed me come from barangays Capulaan, Pugaro, Poblacion, Kita-Kita and San Andres. They were the defending champions who also competed in the Festivals of the North in Dagupan’s Bangus Festival last year. I hope to see them compete again this year in Dagupan City.
I also learned that goat meat is called chevon. A feature of the Goat Festival is the different ways of cooking chevon. Since 2006 there are about 1000 chevon dishes identified and soon to be catalogued in a Balungao Chevon Cookbook. Everyone partook in the “Pinapaintan sa Kawa” where different barangays poured their Pinapaitan dishes in a cauldron. I admit that it was the best pinapaitan I’ve tasted in years.
I also enjoyed my stay at the newly constructed hotel at the Balungao Hilltop Adventure in Mt. Balungao where you can do leisure and adventure activities like riding the zipline (it was once the longest in the country), ATV, paintball, hiking, mountain biking and cap it with a dip at the hot and cold swimming pools. But that would be for another The North Vista story.