The Pamulinawen: A Celebration of Culture and Colors

What happens at the Pamulinawen Festival? Discover the highlights and main events in this colorful cultural celebration in Laoag City.


Festivals are expressive ways to celebrate splendid culture, traditions, and heritage. They add spice to the special moments of our lives. These celebrations are ways to express our social selves and connect with our family, history, and community. The recent Pamulinawen Festival in Laoag City is just one of these celebrations. 

The Pamulinawen - A Celebration of Cultures and Colors
The Pamulinawen – A Celebration of Cultures and Colors

What is the Pamulinawen Festival?

The Pamulinawen is a Laoag’s way to commemorate its patron, Saint William. The locals celebrate this event every first week of February. From a simple celebration, the Pamulinawen has evolved into a one-of-a-kind celebration. As a result, it attracts both tourists and balikbayans alike into the province. Now, the festival showcases the rich Ilokano culture. These are presented through various forms like interpretative dances literary arts contests, among other things.

The festivity was initially to honor the city’s patron, Saint William the Hermit. It held as a reminder of how Christianity gives color to the lives of the Laoageños. This is along with their unwavering faith that everything will get better, even on the darkest days. 

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Where did the name Pamulinawen come from?

Pamulinawen’s history comes from the infamous Ilokano folk song about courting a tough-hearted woman with the same name. As the feast for Saint William became more extravagant and culturally extravagant, it adopted the name Pamulinawen. Now, it is a celebration in the city of Laoag that is beloved by its citizens at any age. 

Celebration in Laoag City
Celebration in Laoag City

What are the activities at the Pamulinawen Festival?

The Pamulinawen festival features the culture and heritage of the city through a variety of social-civic activities. This includes a parade of well-crafted floats across the city, the Calesa Festival, and the Baro a Laoag’s Reyna ti Amianan beauty pageant. But the main event at the festival is the Street Dancing Competition. 

All in all, it is a celebration of culture and colorful traditions. Furthermore, it is an expressive way of celebrating the way of life up north. 

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Pamulinawen’s Kalesa Parade

The celebration of the Pamulinawen Festival would feel incomplete without the Kalesa Parade. It is a showcase of one of the city’s trademarks, the kalesa. This carriage still runs to the downtown of Laoag to take residents and tourists to different places around the city. 

Here in Laoag, they are still used as a mode of transportation for commuters. However, these kalesas transform during the festival. That means you will see ornate kalesa paraded and took their posture to flaunt how posh and polished they were while marching on the city’s main street. 

Kalesa Festival Parade at the Pamulinawen Festival
Kalesa Festival Parade at the Pamulinawen Festival

Moreover, the city of Laoag takes great efforts in preserving kalesas. This is because it is one of the trademarks of the city that is intertwined with its history. In fact, the province also has its ‘Kalesa Lighted Evening Tour’ to promote them. During the festivity, kalesas take locals and tourists to a mini-tour of the city on a parade of well-lit chariots.

For the people of Laoag, the kalesa parade is just one of the many ways to deepen and renew their local culture and heritage. Moreover, it is their way to stay rooted in their historical identity. But most importantly, it is a good way to protect and promote the livelihood of the kutseros, or the kalesa drivers. In fact, the festival also includes an orientation for the kutseros on how they can better preserve their kalesa and history.

Street Dancing

Another highlight in the Pamulinawem festival is the street dancing competition. Like any other festival in the country, Laoag also fills its streets with colorful merriment during Pamulinawen. For Laoageños, this is their way of telling their rich history. That means each dance and chanting carries their gratefulness and pride.

Street dancing is especially present every year to encourage the participation of all Laoag. Here, barangays from the farthest towns attend and celebrate their shared identity.

This is an event where Laoageños parade their best costumes inspired by the traditional Ilocano aesthetics. All in all, street dancing forms an image of Ilocos before and after colonization. It is a big celebration of everyday life in Ilocos that highlights the city’s livelihood, natural resources, and identity.

Battle of Beauty and Wit

Baro a Laoag’s Reyna ti Amianan during Pamulinawen Festival
Baro a Laoag’s Reyna ti Amianan during Pamulinawen Festival

The Pamulinawen Festival is also a celebration of beauty among Laoageños. In fact, Laoag also presents the Baro a Laoag’s Reyna ti Amianan, the grandest search for the city’s ambassador among Ilocandia. This event is a night of glitz and glam that highlights women’s empowerment.

Sashed by their respective clusters and organizations, young compete in beauty and wit for the chance to represent the whole of Ilocos Norte

Why is the Pamulinawen important for Ilocos Norte?

Festivals play a crucial role in nation-building. The Pamulinawen is just one of the many celebrations that bring people from every religious, social, and economic background. This way, people can appreciate their shared identities and take pride in the best of their community.

The Pamulinawen is a way for Laoag to preserve its local customs, ideas, cultures, and everything in between. Furthermore, in these festivals, people appreciate how the local community has enriched their lives. It is a way of imprinting the identity of a generation and taking it to the future.

Living in the colorful City of Laoag

Though Laoag may look like a city from the past, it also offers many opportunities for locals at present. In fact, Laoag is the Ilocos province’s industrial and commercial center. In addition, it also houses the busiest airport in the region, making it highly accessible. That said, Laoag promises growth opportunities for local investors in the city.

Settle down comfortably in Camella Laoag!

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By: John Audrey Castro

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