PINILI, Ilocos Norte—Nine Piniliños, including three women, were recognized recently by the Local Government Unit as Outstanding Residents for their efforts in their chosen fields of endeavor and their activities “relative to community development.”
The awards, in glittering ceremonies during the Balikbayan Night of the five-day town fiesta dubbed “Abel and Bawang Festival” on April 10, highlighted the coronation by the guest of honor of Ms. Balik-Pinili 2018 Queen Rosemarie Madarang, who returned for the crown from her job in Germany.
The awardees were: Prof. Honor Blanco Cabie (journalism); Dr. Avelina Baldomir (education); Rolando Bueno (agriculture); Atty. Amador Tolentino Jr. (legal services); Senior Inspector Jefferson Antalan (police services); Al Joseph Rubio (sports); retired Col. Samuel S. Pagdilao Sr. (government service); Mrs. Leriza Fernandez (non-government organization representative); and Magdalena Gamayo (culture and the arts).
The 93-year-old Gamayo, among Ilocandia’s pride, received her award while seated in her wheelchair, is a master inabel (loom) weaver who was awarded the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan or National Living Treasure by then President Benigno Aquino III at Malacanang in November 2012.
Manlilikha ng Bayan, the highest honor given to artisan, craftsman or folk artist, is a title in the same order with National Artist and National Scientist.
Cabie, Manila Standard’s night editor and a journalism practitioner for more than 50 years, wrote the first comprehensive historical chronicle on Pinili, where warriors walked during the Philippine-American War and the Second World War, while Tolentino manages his law firm bearing his name in Metro Manila.
In his Keynote Address during the Balikbayan Night at the Pinili Amphitheater, Cabie tagged the returning “balikbayans” of Pinili as “the guardians of Filipino culture who play a crucial role in preserving that eastern culture you grew up in.”
In his extemporaneous speech, Cabie said the “balikbayans” have formed various organizations in their respective communities overseas as wardens of the culture that can be traced to their roots.
He said: “They also offer workshops that teach the younger generation of Filipinos by blood dances and songs and even the Filipino language or the mother tongue in their regions of origin.
“They host the Simbang Gabi or the Miatinis, among us Ilocanos, in their respective parishes, often serving arroz caldo or rice broth and the vinegar sautéed saluyot or jute mallow leaves in the Ilocano communities after Mass which showcase an admirable Filipino tradition and hospitality.”
According to Cabie, the “balikbayans” of the Philippines in general and of Pinili in particular “are the ambassadors of the Philippines… you are in the best position to promote not only the Philippines but the Filipino – strong reasons why the descendants of the original Filipino immigrants have kept their love for the Philippines.”
Pinili, 457 kilometers north of Manila, used to be a tobacco-growing agricultural town. It’s now the top garlic-producing town of Ilocos Norte.
It will mark its centennial on Jan 1, 2020 – in memory of the efforts of rebel Catholic priest Gregorio Aglipay who, with his guerrillas from Pinili, fought advancing American troops during the Philippine-American war at the turn of the 20th century.
Through the efforts of Aglipay and some 200 elders of the area, then US Governor General Francis Burton Harrison signed the Proclamation in Malacanang, making Pinili the 17th town of Ilocos Norte on Jan 1, 1920.