PYESTANG TUGAK (The Annual San Fernando Frog Festival)
The City of San Fernando, Pampanga, other than being known as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines is also teeming with frogs. With their abundance in the Kapampangan rice fields, frogs have actually become part of the kapampangan culture especially of the Fernandinos. From a simple frog dish, the Kampampangans have actually dished out a wide variety of frog cuisine enough to salivate the tourists, passers-by and locals. Not only that, the traditional frog catching or pamamaduas has also become a regular bonding exercise for every Fernandino family. No doubt these traditions are purely significant to the Kapampangan’s especially the Fernandino.
Dating back its origin, during the start of the rains, as the town folks would start planting rice; children would set out for the rice fields, streams and estuaries fed by the Rio Grande de Pampanga. This signaled the start of the frog-catching and rainy season eventually became a frog-catching season. Catching frogs was relatively easy. With fishing rod and string, the children jiggled a black piece of cloth in mid-air to simulate flies. As the frogs jumped and swallowed the cloth, they were quickly placed in reed containers or sacks to be dressed later with ash to remove their slime. Betute, as the same sounds, is a pun for betute (pufferfish), a term used to stuffed with a sausage meat or mincemeat. This actually ushered the start of Kapampangan Frog Tradition.
Henceforth, the Fernandinos rich tradition in the frog-catching process, pamamaduas tugak, has been passed on from generation to generation. Today, one starts with digging for a special kind of worm called bulateng tudtud, and stringing tem using a reed of cogon grass. Once attached to the paduas, or a fishing rod like implement, one is now ready to catch for frogs.
With the frogs have come several traditions, including frog catching implements suchs as the padus, panyapu, and the bulateng tudtud, used as bait, as well as the wide range of frog cuisine. Most famous of these is the betute, frogstuffed with the common pork or the traditional minced frog meat and then deep fried. And then there is of course the adobong tugak, tinolang tugak, almondegas, torta or frog burgers.
However, these traditions are fast disappearing due to inevitable progress and urban growth. Thus, there is an inherent need to rekindle and promote these rich Kapampangan frog traditions.
This gave birth to the Piestang Tugak- The Annual San Fernando Frog Festival. This was borne from the Kapampangan traditional practice of frog-catching and delicacy making of the native amphibian.
The City Tourism Division and the Center for Kapampangan Studies took the initiative in staging the first-ever Piestang Tugak- the 1st Annual San Fernando Frog Festival was celebrated last November 4, 2003 at the WOW Northern Philippines, HILAGA (formerly Paskuhan). The pilot staging of the festival reaped huge success because of the participation of the academe and other sectors of the Fernandinos which paved the way for an increased awareness in the frog tradition.
This year, because of the rich tradition behind Kapampangan frog culture and to provide continuity to the noble idea, the City Government of San Fernando and the Pyestang Tugak 2011 Executive Committee is bent on staging yet another gargantuan festivity which aims to feature and promote these disappearing traditions. This is corollary aimed to revolutionize the unique Fernandino culture and eventually make this event a part of every Fernandinos life.
No one can really discount the fact that these traditions have definitely become an important part of the Kapampangan culture. And it is up to the current generation of Kapampangans to preserve and promote these traditions for future generations to enjoy.