Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Iloilo town hopes to take off from success of local festival

The town of Zarraga, a fourth class municipality situated 15.7 kilometers north of this city, is banking on Saturday’s feat of its "Pantat" Festival to open more opportunities for its residents.

Zarraga Mayor Gregorio S. Brazas said that their winning has given them great pride.

Pantat Festival, a showcase of the major industries of Zarraga, was adjudged second during the Aliwan Fiesta street dancing competition held in Metro Manila over the weekend. It represented Iloilo Dinagyang’s Kasadyahan contest after bagging the championship crown during the 2011 Dinagyang Festival.

It was conceptualized in 2003 with the main purpose of encouraging more fishpond investors to focus on raising of African hito (catfish) or locally known as "Pantat."

Brazas said that currently, African hito are mostly raised in backyards. The local government unit (LGU) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have been giving them support through the provision of fingerlings and technical assistance.

The mayor said they looked forward to establish their own hatchery to be able to produce own fingerlings to be distributed to those who are interested to raise hito.

Zarraga is now the major supplier of hito for the entire province of Iloilo but Brazas said they looked forward to expand the market of the product.

Meantime, businessmen Mike Plana, who is also from Zarraga and a supporter of the festival expressed hope that they can take off from the success of the festival.

“It has its own uniqueness; we can take off from that,” he said citing the possibility of making the festival a vehicle for tourism promotion and subsequently provide employment to the people of Zarraga.

He added that given some time he looked forward to organize well-meaning individuals and discuss how they can help the two and bring in other development to this fourth class municipality.

“We are looking at something more than the local. A bigger market or processing of hito,” he said.

Annually, some 50 tons of hito are being harvested and daily more than 150 kilos or grilled hito are sold along the national road of Zarraga apart from those that are being bought uncooked.



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