BANGUS FESTIVAL. Dagupan City Mayor Marc Brian Lim (second from right), SM Center mall Dagupan manager Eileen delos Santos (right), Public Order and Safety Office chief Rob Erfe-Mejia (fourth from right), and Dagupan Bangus Festival Secretariat Maximo Tan (third from right) give a sample of the Kalutan ed Dalan vibe during the press conference for the Bangus Festival 2022 on April 1. Kalutan ed Dalan street party is the highlight of the festival. (Photo courtesy of Arman Soriano)

DAGUPAN CITY – At least 4,500 kilos or 12,500 pieces of milkfish would be grilled for the upcoming Bangus Festival 2022 slated from April 18 to 30 here after a two-year postponement due to the pandemic.
 
In a press conference on Friday, Mayor Marc Brian Lim said this year’s festival will push through given the high vaccination rate here and low coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
 
He said the city government has allotted 1,000 grills for the highlight event, Kalutan ed Dalan street party. As of Thursday, 800 grills were already reserved or sold.
 
Each grill worth PHP3,500 comes with five kilos of Dagupan bangus (milkfish), charcoal, and other freebies that will be used during the Kalutan ed Dalan on April 30.
 
“There is enough supply of bangus even during the festival. It is not a problem,” he said.
 
Lim said the Bangus Festival 2022 is not just a celebration but also a thanksgiving.
 
“It is a kind of thanksgiving to the Lord Almighty that He has guided us through this entire pandemic and we are all here face-to-face ready to celebrate. This is an opportunity for us to thank God for all the challenges we have overcome and those we will overcome in the future,” he said.
 
Lim said the Bangus Festival will again be held in the downtown area or within the central business district to provide economic opportunity to ambulant vendors, public market vendors, transport sectors, and other businesses and establishments in the city.
 
He thanked the sponsors including SM Center Dagupan mall, among others, who agreed to support the festival despite a short notice. 
 
"A festival usually takes eight months of preparation but due to the Delta and Omicron variants surge in the past months, we were only able to decide to go on with the festival last month," he added. 
 
Lim said he is confident the festival could be held safely with the health protocols and high vaccination rate of the city, while attendees are encouraged to bring their vaccination cards.
 
Dr. Dalvie Casilang, officer-in-charge of the City Health Office, said the city has already achieved its population protection with a 173-percent immunization rate.
 
“We will continue to implement the minimum public health standard. Stations will be set up with alcohol for the attendees to sanitize their hands and on the day of the Kalutan (event), there will be hand washing stations,” he said.
 
Public Order and Safety Office chief, Rob Erfe-Mejia, said incident command posts will be placed strategically along the stretch of the central business district, and auxiliary groups from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, among others, will be tapped to augment security in the city.
 
The Bangus Festival 2022 will begin on April 18 with the unveiling of the festival logo and the Guinness Book of World Records marker.
 
Dagupan City got the world record for the longest barbecue grill with the Kalutan ed Dalan in 2003.
 
The other activities for the festival are Pisasalamat ed Ilog (Thanksgiving for the river) on April 19, cycling event on April 24, Dagupan youth festival on April 26, mass wedding on April 27, Bangus Rodeo on April 28, and Kalutan ed Dalan on April 30. (PNA)