Sleepless in Dagupan this Yuletide season

DAGUPAN CITY — Many visitors are coming to this city at night, not only to sample sizzling food in its many seafood restaurants, but because the city simply looks its best in the dark.

This Yuletide season, be prepared to stay up late if you are visiting Dagupan as it becomes stunningly beautiful at night during this cold December month.

It is at night when there is less traffic and the best time to ride a horse-drawn “caromata” around the city for PHP100 an hour.

The “caromatas” from the village of Salisay come out in droves every Christmas season, especially since the holiday coincides with the month-long Dagupan City Fiesta in honor of Saint John the Evangelist, patron saint of the city and also of fishermen.

They drive tourists wanting to see the sights around the city at night without much distraction from jeepneys and motorized tricycles that lord over Dagupan roads during the day.

Another place of interest at night is the “Paseo de Belen”, a village conceptualized just a year ago to become a crowd drawer during the Yuletide season and also as a competition for barangays to show their creativity and ingenuity in using materials found in nature.

From 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., the “Paseo de Belen”, a small version of Pampanga’s Paskuhan Village along the Jose R. de Venecia Sr. Expressway Extension adjacent to the fiesta carnival, dazzles the crowd.

City Councilor Marcelino Fernandez, “hermano mayor” of this year’s festivities, said the dioramas of 18 nativity scenes, were put up individually by barangays or by clusters of barangays.

Night visitors can do a selfie in front of the well-lighted nativity scenes to serve as their remembrance of the “Paseo de Belen, said the “hermano mayor”, whose task is equivalent to that of the executive chairman.

Each booth, measuring six meters by six meters, displays a nativity scene that is made from indigenous materials, such as rice hay and stalks, cogon grass, wood, leaves and branches of trees, including bamboo, the hermano mayor said.

Each will be judged according to durability, stability, craftsmanship and relevance.
The first place will receive PHP50,000; the second PHP30,000, and the third PHP20,000.

Institutional entries like those from the CSI Group of Companies, Dagupan Electric Corp., and the Dagupan City High School are excluded in the contest, Fernandez said.

Once darkness sets in, it is also the best time to see the two iconic landmarks of the city: the Quinto and Magsaysay bridges, which were decorated this year without the local government spending a single centavo.

The United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), Pangasinan chapter volunteered to decorate both bridges with motifs depicting the progress and development of the new Dagupan.

Mayor Belen Fernandez thanked the UAP chapter for its donation, pleased that her administration did not have to spend millions just for Christmas decors.