There are two kinds of bagoong available in Pangasinan – bagoong alamang which made from very small shrimps, and bagoong isda which is made of small fish. There are plenty of these bagoong in local markets here in Pangasinan. Bottling them made them more presentable. When you go around the market, you will notice them commonly placed in big pails and vats and soled in small quantities by measuring cups.
Though many locals earn their living by producing and selling bagoong, I basically do’nt know how these are made. But one thing I am very sure of is that they are able to fill empty stomachs by just being mixed with rice. The poor population in the area will just mix them with rice and that is enough meal for the day. If they can afford to buy tomatoes, then rice topped with tomatoes with bagoong is more acceptable.
The common use of bagoong to those who can afford it is for saltening vegetable and meat dishes. Among this, the pinakbet is the most common. Binagoongang baboy (salted pork) is also another favorite dish by Pangasinenses. It is also commonly used as a dipping sauce in grilled, broiled, or fried meat or fish. As a dipping sauce, it is commonly mixed with either kalamansi or vinegar, with added chopped garlic, chopped onion, or chilli for those who want more spice.
The propensityof Pangasinenses to use bagoong in every meal, be it used as saltening agent in various prepared dishes, as a dipping sauce, or as a main dish by itself made bagoong the main cause of two common diseases among the locals – hypertension and kidney stone.
In Pangasinan, May 1, Labor Day, is also celebrated as Pistay Dayat or Sea Festival. It is an annual 5-day-affair which usually culminates on this day. It is celebrated as a thanksgiving for the bountiful sea harvest. It also serves as a major tourist attraction as many visitors come to celebrate this big event with the locals.
What I distinctly remember as a child was the Search for Limgas na Pangasinan ( Miss Pangasinan). The search starts one month ahead where beauty and money speaks, much like other kinds of beauty pageants. I was always invited to join then but my father hated seeing us, his children, joining any kind of beauty contest. I also detest such kind of exposure – parading in front of many people wearing the skimpiest bikini one can imagine. Not that I am against it. It’s just not my cup of tea.
As a child, I would always pressure my father to go to the beach to be part of the festivities and at the same time to enjoy bathing in the beach. It was a big event then as many people really come to our beaches and have fun. Because we live in the highway leading to the beach, we can watch groups of people visiting our place coming from far-flung areas – manila and even from the south. The road in front of our house will always be congested and there would be peddlers selling ice cream, cubed ice for the drinks, and even coals for grilling meat and seafood. Everybody was in a festive mood.
Now, times have changed. Very few visitors from other places, no more sidewalk vendors and peddlers selling what-have-you, and few locals enjoying the beach. Some say it is because of the overpriced rentals of shades or nipa huts where one stays for the day and the never ending ticketing of local baranggay officials which they claimed was for the use of the baranggay roads. Whatever it is, celebrating Pistay Dayat is very much different thirty years ago.
When I left my province to study in Manila years ago, I had no inkling on the word Pangalatok. In fact, I don’t even know that such a word existed. But I was introduced to it by people who surrounded me in the dormitory (our house in Manila was purchased later), and in the school. Upon answering their querry of where my province is, it would be followed-up by Ahh, so you are a Pangalatok. And it hit me wit surprise the first time.
Is it okay to call a person from Pangasinan, Pangalatok? Whereas Panga refers to the person living in Pangasinan or a Pangasinense for short, latok means mentally abnormal. So if you join the two words together, that would mean a mentally abnormal Pangasinense. And that would become an insult to the person altogether.
If calling a person Pangasinense is too long for you, well, Panga is acceptable. In fact it sounds good and means no offense. I myself prefer it over Pangalatok.
Welcome to my new blog – Wow Pangasinan. As a pure Pangasinense who was born, grew up, still lives, and plans to spend my entire life in the place, I would like to take you my readers to this beautiful place – its sceneries, the delectable food it is so famous of, the people, culture, language, and lots of other things purely Pangasinan.
If you have acquaintances or friends from this place, you will be able to know more of their culture through this blog. So, join me as we explore together the place, everything in , including its people.