BY: CHERRY JOY S. DISCAYA
LAOAG CITY – When tourists travel to places, they normally have a common agenda on their list – buy local products for souvenir fondly known as “pasalubong” to Filipinos.
In Ilocos Norte, pasalubongs come in basketful of foods and spices that each town has been promoting as “One Town, One Product” (OTOP).
Launched in the province in May 2005, OTOP is a promotional tool for every town’s unique and primary product. The OTOP, which symbolizes the local culture, livelihood and tradition, aims to capture the attention of tourists and visitors.
Some of the emerging OTOPs often sought by visitors in the province are the Laoag City’s bagnet and longganisa, which represent the Ilocanos fondness of meat with an extra-ordinary mixture using Ilocano spices and vinegar.
The tasteful empanada of Batac City dipped in vinegar either from Piddig town or Bacarra town is another tourist find.
Other native products that hit some visitors early cravings are the garlic or locally known as “bawang” from Pinili town, the rice coffee from Banna, chichacorn from Paoay and the Inabel (woven cloth) from Sarrat.
To make local products more attractive and competitive, producers applied some innovations.
The famous empanada of Batac was transformed to “empanada pizza” keeping its authentic ingredients and Ilocano taste.
Another twist to the local gastronomic goodness are the famous pinakbet as “pinakbet pizza;” poque-poque as poque-poque pizza; dinuguan as dinuguan pizza; and even the “gamet” pizza, a seaweed native from Burgos town – the town’s prime product.
Tourists have started flocking to Ilocos Norte this summer to experience its breathtaking landscapes and historical features have a taste of its unique and delicious food products. (MCA/CDG, PIA-1, Ilocos Norte)