A Glimpse of Hope in Pangasinan’s Pistay Dayat Festival

Since Lingayen, my hometown, is celebrating Pistay Dayat today, I think it also the right time to publish here the paper that I wrote last semester in my Tourism class. So here it goes…

To understand and analyze whether the celebration and preparations for the Pistay Dayat Festival in Pangasinan emanates sustainable tourism development, Zhenhua Liu (2003)’s perspective on Sustainable Tourism Development is to be used in this paper for discussion.

Liu (2003) on Sustainable Tourism Development

In his work entitled, “Sustainable Tourism Development: A Critique,” Liu (2003) made use of the World Tourism Organisation (2001)’s definition of sustainable tourism development as a basis for discussion:

Sustainable tourism development meets the needs of the present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems (Liu 2003: 460).

In addition, Liu (2003:460) mentioned what Cater (1993) pointed out as the three main objectives of sustainable tourism: meeting the needs of the host population in terms of improved living standards both in the short and long term; satisfying the demands of a growing number of tourists; and safeguarding the natural environment.

Lastly, Liu (2003:472) pointed out four critical and important issues to consider for further research on sustainable tourism development: a balanced view on sustainability (we are not to limit growth but to manage it for the benefit of everyone); the development of practically feasible policies and measures; the use of a systems perspective (to understand the characteristics and change patterns of tourism and its dynamic interaction with the natural, technological, social and economic environment); and the adaptation of interdisciplinary approach.

 Lingayen’s Pistay Dayat Festival    

Looking forward to a more prosperous tourism industry, the provincial government’s efforts could be seen in the conduct of the Pistay Dayat (Sea Festival) which is being celebrated annually in the capital of the province, Lingayen. In an article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (2013), Provincial administrator Rafael Baraan said that Pistay Dayat started as a simple thanksgiving celebration of the local fishing community for the Lingayen Gulf’s abundance, “Fishing is one of the major livelihood activities of the people in our province. That is why the festivity is centered along the shorelines and it coincides with the Labor Day celebration on May 1.” Moreover, Kheem Caparas (2012) posted in his blog that:

According to Dagupan City’s official website, Pista’y Dayat actually started in small fishing towns of Lingayen and Alaminos in the 1960s, gradually growing in size as these towns started to trade with each other. It was during the term of former Dagupan City Mayor Cipriano Manaois in 1968 when formal activities for Pista’y Dayat were first held. It was also during this period that the title Pista’y Dayat was officially coined.

As years pass by, it could be seen that the celebration of the said festival becomes bigger and bigger  showing the implications of the tourism development program of the province that has been launched when former Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. started office last 2008 (Philippine Information Agency 2009). Different events are being conducted throughout the two-week-long celebration:

What used to be just a simple celebration which serves as thanksgiving for the bounty of fish harvest in coastal villages in Pangasinan, Pistay Dayat merriment has evolved through the years as a ‘sight to behold,’ featuring a wide-array of activities and events that draw a big crowd of people from all over the Philippines visiting Pangasinan this summer…Last year, Pistay Dayat was hailed by the Department of Tourism and the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines (ATOP) as first runner-up in the coveted Pearl awards (best tourism event – festival category). As a Pearl awardee, the provincial government has been recognized for its stellar contributions in making the Pistay Dayat a boost to the province’s tourism sector (Oblanca, 2016).

Tourism Supply and Demand in the Pistay Dayat Festival

According to Cardinoza (2013) of the Philippine News Inquirer, in the last two years, Pangasinan has become the leading tourist destination in the Ilocos region and Pistay Dayat, according to Gov. Espino Jr., has been one of the events that attracted the tourists to the province.

Zhenhua Liu (2003: 462) said in his work that “[t]ourism development is both supply-led and demand-led. The provision of tourist facilitates and services may arise as a response to growing demand or aim to stimulate demand.” This could be true in the case of the previous local administration who saw the promising tourism industry in Pangasinan that it launched its integrated tourism development program. Through the years, the transformations in the Capitol Compound and Lingayen Beachfront where the festival takes place have been very visible that it became a tourism “place” product itself. The place became a tourist spot that even if it is not Pistay Dayat season, tourists still come and visit. The local government has seen to it that it would be captivating enough for tourism purposes.

Still on the topic of inviting more tourists during Pistay Dayat, spearheaded by Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr., the sea festival was presented with a total repackaging since 2008. From a mere thanksgiving celebration, the festival became a more meaningful feast with genuine goals anchored on tourism, environment and sports as its core advocacies (Pangasinan Capitol, 2013). And just last year 2015, the third and last of this advocacies has been integrated to the festival to increase tourism demand: its sports advocacy. According to Sunstar (2015), three sporting events (Paboksing ed Gulpo, Volleybelles and Skimboarding) have been added to the events in the festival to emphasize Gov. Espino’s priority of sports development in the province (leveling up sports mindedness among Pangasinenses especially the young generation). It has been also stated that Provincial Sports Director Modesto Operania said that, “[t]hese sporting events are also expected to draw big crowd of sports enthusiasts in Pangasinan, in nearby provinces and tourists from all over the globe.”

Local Participation and Other Stakeholders

Liu (2003:466) argued that “‘a greater level of local involvement in the planning and development of tourism is an essential prerequisite of sustainable tourism’… [And] [t]o be successful and sustainable, tourism development should involve ‘various government departments, public and private sector companies, community groups and experts.’” This prerequisite of sustainable tourism could be seen in Pistay Dayat. Local participation is very prevalent not only through selling foods, shirts and souvenirs for tourists but also in the envents and competitions that are made for them as bonafide residents of Pangasinan. (ie. Sand-sculpting). Other stakeholders include the local government, private companies which serve as sponsors (ie. Smart Company, San Miguel Brewery, Inc., Uniliver) and local entrepreneurs from different municipalities who join the Trade and Tourism Expo to promote their native products.

Pistay Dayat for a Sustainable Tourism

One of the reasons why the idea of sustainability in tourism has emerged was because of the “negative” tourism impacts, most especially to the socio-cultural aspect of the tourist destination (Liu 2003:460). The Pistay Dayat, however, for almost nine years now, has quite proven that tourism could be economically, environmentally, and socio-culturally beneficial.

Pistay Dayat has definitely increased the tourism demand in the province which in return brings economic benefits to the government and local people who have tourism-related businesses. But unlike the stereotypical negative association of tourism to cultural integrity, Pistay Dayat has proven so far that while developing economically, we can still keep our cultural integrity. This festival embodies so much of the cultural heritage of Pangasinan. As what Gov. Espino said, the festival serves as the “reawakening of the Pangasinenses’ consciousness regarding music, dances, arts, and culture of the province.” In this festival are events that promote historical heritage and socio-cultural integrity like Trade EXPO (where Pangasinan products are being sold and art exhibits are shown), Palaro sa Dagat with Kite-flying (where several Pinoy games are being played), and Sayawan ed Aplaya (street-dancing where festivals from other localities are represented). There are also events that demonstrate the importance of the nature and environment: Konsyerto sa Gulpo (where young bands sing to promote environmental awareness [Pangasinan Capitol 2013]), Sand Sculpting (“aims to further raise the level of awareness and appreciation of the people on the sea’s ecosystem and non-living things like sand [Pangasinan Capitol 2013]”), the Doypuay Kalangweran or Youth Camp (both a social and environmental activity that “brings together student leaders in Pangasinan for an overnight environmental appreciation rendezvous [Pangasinan Capitol 2013]”, clean-up drive in the beachfront area, and the Banca Parada. According to Melo Villareal (2014), Banca Parada (or the fluvial parade), where over a hundred of decorated bancas sail, is “a celebration of clean river showcasing the provincial government’s serious effort in restoring the river to its original clean and healthy condition thru the massive river clean up drive program of the administration of Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr.”

Just what Liu (2003) has mentioned on his work, sustainable tourism should be seen using a systems and interdisciplinary approaches. Using these perspectives now, we could see a glimpse of hope of sustainability in tourism in the Pistay Dayat festival if it continues on promoting tourism without sacrificing its environmental resources and cultural integrity. Also, tourism might really lead to sustainable development if it continues on promoting inter-generational as well as intra-generational equity. 



Liu, Z. (2003) “Sustainable tourism development: a critique.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 11 (6). Pp. 459-475. ISSN 0966-9582

Caparas, K. “Pistay Dayat  Festival: A Gratitude to the Sea.” May 23, 2012. https://www.vigattintourism.com/tourism/articles/Pistay-Dayat-Festival-A-Gratitude-to-the-Sea (Accessed 01 September 2016)

Cardinoza, G. “Pangasinan celebrates Pistay Dayat for See Bounty.” Apri 23, 2013. http://pangasinan.gov.ph/2013/04/pangasinan-celebrates-pistay-dayat-for-sea-bounty/ (Accessed 01 September 2016)

Oblanca, M. G. N. “Pistay Dayat 2016 kicks off on April 22.” April 16, 2016. http://pangasinan.gov.ph/2016/04/pistay-dayat-2016-kicks-off-on-april-22/ Accessed 01 September 2016)

Pangasinan Capitol (2013). “Pistay Dayat Tripple Advocacy.” http://policeheadlines.blogspot.com/2013/04/pistay-dayat-tripple-advocacy.html (Accessed 01 September 2016)

Philippine Information Agency – Pangasinan. “Gov urges Pangasinenses to see province first.” April 30, 2009. http://archives.pia.gov.ph/?m=12&sec=reader&fi=p090430.htm&no=40 (Accessed 01 September 2016)

Sunstar. “3 Sporting events to spice up Pistay Dayat.” April 28, 2015. http://www.sunstar.com.ph/pangasinan/local-news/2015/04/28/3-sporting-events-spice-pistay-dayat-404686  (Accessed 01 September 2016)

The Official Website of Pangasinan (2016). “About Pangasinan.” http://pangasinan.gov.ph/the-province/about-pangasinan/ (Accessed 01 September 2016)

The Philippine Star. “Pangasinan’s Pistay Dayat 2013 kicks off.” April 26, 2013. http://www.philstar.com/travel-and-tourism/2013/04/26/934848/pangasinans-pistay-dayat-2013-kicks Accessed 01 September 2016)

Villareal, M. “Pistay Dayat Grand Fluvial Parade in Pangasinan.” May 2, 2014. http://outoftownblog.com/pistay-dayat-grand-fluvial-parade-pangasinan/ (Accessed 01 September 2016)


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