SAN JUAN, Ilocos Sur (Dec. 19) — Trying to make it to the Guinness Book Of World Records for its locally produced buri mat and presenting on December 27 the prospective World’s Longest Buri Mat, local folk here are getting excited and ecstatic as the D-day draws near.
Getting ready for their first ever “Buri Festival” on December 27 – 30, 2006, town Mayor Benjamin Sarmiento said his town mates have started to weave a 4-kilometer sleeping mat that will be laid down along the streets during the opening of the festival on the December 27.
Each weaver is set to make a five-meter long mat. Then, all woven mats will be connected to complete the four kilometers.
San Juan is well–known for its woven mats, hats and baskets all throughout the Ilocos region. It grows abundant buri (silag) plants in its eastern barangays. Residents from at least eleven eastern barangays namely Cacandungan, Darao, Lapting, Malammin, Labnig, Caronoan, Bannuar, Ressureccion, Camanggaan, Namuraya and Barbar are engaged in weaving of mats (banig), hat and baskets, according to Sarmiento.
Even buri midribs, by-product of the silag palm are made into chairs, Sarmiento beamed.
These Buri products are feted by the Department of Trade and Industry as San Juan’s “One Town One Product” (OTOP).
The Buri Festival coincides with the town’s annual fiesta falling just after Jesus was born. They call it San Juan Christmas Festival.
Sarmiento adds, “We have come to realize that we need to focus our festival into one of our major product — the buri — to promote our woven products and start dreaming for our tourism industry to flourish.”
“Our fest for this year is different because we want to put our town in the world map as the producer of world’s longest mat,” the mayor added.
Sarmiento stressed that through the buri festival it will induce Sam Juan’s eco-tourism into the chart of woven products producer.
San Juan folks are vowing that after the festival, all the requirements for the world feat body that justify their longest mat in the world will be submitted.
Another highlight of the three-day Buri Festival are a grand parade and street dancing competition dramatizing the technology in woven products; formal opening of the newly constructed public market; an amateur boxing competition; coronation of Miss San Juan featuring three San Juan ladies who trace their roots from San Juan but had since migrated to America, Europe and Asia.
Thousands of balikbayans from different nations of the world who are natives of the Ilocos Sur town have also started to head back home to San Juan, Sarmiento said.
To perk up a convincing business climate in the town, the mayor offered that a “tax holiday” where all local entrepreneurs and visiting businessmen will be tax-free at the public market during the three-day festival. “I would like to invite all businessmen to come and sell their products during our festival.” # Ace Alegre for NORDIS