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Dagupan City: The Home of the World’s Longest Barbecue

Juan de Salcedo led the first definite expedition of the Spaniards on March   1572 in Pangasinan. In 1582, the Province was organized having an Alcalde Mayor and Lingayen was made as the capital. A year later, the Spaniards established Lingayen as the encomienda making Dagupan a sitio.

In 1590, the Augustinian missionaries arrived and started spreading Christianity, constructing church and roads, utilizing forced labor. This resulted into a rebellion in 1660. After the revolt, the people started to rebuild the town and named it Nandaragupan (where people met) which was later simplified to Dagupan in 1720.

By virtue of Republic Act 170, a law known as the City Charter of Dagupan City, Dagupan became a city in June 20, 1947.

Geography. Dagupan City is located on the northern part of Pangasinan Province and is 212 kilometers north of Manila. It is bounded by Lingayen Gulf in the north, San Fabian in the northeast, Mangaldan in the east, Calasiao in the south and Binmaley in the west.

The City has an area of 37.2 sq. km. comprising 31 barangays. The major land formation in the area includes a coastal plain having an almost flat terrain slopes ranging from zero to three percent while the rest are considered swampy areas, ponds and other forms of wetlands. Among the coastal municipalities in Pangasinan, Dagupan City has the second largest wetland area of 25.3 sq. km.

Population. Dagupan City recorded a total population of 130,328 in 2000. Among all the cities and municipalities in Region I, Dagupan City registered the highest population density with around 3,501 persons per sq. km. Pangasinan/Panggalato was the predominant local dialect, spoken by 85.2 percent of its household population in 2000. About 86.4 percent of the Dagupenos were Roman Catholics. As of 2002, 96.0 percent of the households in the city were served with potable water while 95.6 percent had power/electric supply.

Economy.  Dagupan is a first class city. In 2002, it yielded an income of Php268.7 million, mostly from income tax. Of its total expenditures of 266.5 million, 90.7 percent were spent for general public services.

The City is considered as the province’s industrial hub. The number of registered business establishments in the city reached 4,721 in 2002. The major types of business establishments were: 1) general merchandise, trading and food house (37.5 percent); 2) real estate lessor/services (32.3 percent); 3) sari-sari store (13.8 percent); and 4) insurance/lending investors/banks (5.1 percent).  The city has four public markets.

Dagupan City is also a popular place for higher education in the province. In 2003, it has 13 colleges, three universities, and 18 vocational schools and technical learning centers.

Although categorized as urban in its entirety, one third of the city’s total barangays are still devoted into agricultural production and nine remain as fishing communities. About 26.2 percent (9.76 sq. km.) of the city’s total land area in 2003 were used as fishponds for brackishwater production such as for culturing milkfish, prawns, shrimps, crabs, and mussels.

 Dagupan City covers a wide stretch of beautiful beaches, popularly known as Bonuan Blue Beach, along the Lingayen Gulf. Bonuan Blue Beach is ideal for swimming, jet skiing, and scuba diving. It is also in Bonuan Beach where the people of Pangasinan celebrate the Sea Festival or  Pista’y  Dayat

every first day of May. The Bonuan Blue Beach is cradled by the 72-hectares Tondaligan People’s Park where one may visit the Mac Arthur Park, the Japan-Philippines Friendship Garden and the Shrine of the Unknown Soldier.

The Bangus Industry of Dagupan City.
Milkfish, popularly known as “bangus”, abounds in Pangasinan. The province is the country’s top producer of milkfish cultured in marine fish cage and marine fish pen, contributing 83.9 percent and 91.8 percent, respectively, in 2000. In 2003, about   51.2 percent (379) of the province’s fish pen/cage operators engaged in culturing milkfish were from Dagupan City.

Dagupan is among the top producers of milkfish in the province. From 2001-2003, Dagupan’s milkfish production totaled to 35,560.1 metric tons (MT), contributing 16.8 percent to the total provincial production. Of its total production in the past three years, 78.5 percent grew in fish pens/cages while the rest grew in brackishwater fishpond.


Milkfish Production by Culture Environment, Dagupan City

Year Brackishwater Fishpond Fish Pen/Cages Total % Share to
Area (has) Prod'n (MT) Area (has) Prod'n (MT) Area (has) Prod'n (MT) Prov'l Prod'n
2001 976 2,356.50 82.4 7,416.00 1,058.4 9,772.5 14.3%
2002 976 2,874.50 82.37 13,542.90 1,058.4 16,417.4 21.0%
2003 976 2,414.80 49.2 6,955.40 1,025.2 9,370.2 14.6%
Source: Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, Pangasinan

There are two kinds of milkfish cultured in the city. One kind is the Bonuan Bangus which is the more preferred kind because of its savory taste and palatability. This kind of milkfish has a short arched belly, fat, with fine and white shiny scales, short tailed and has small head.  It is also soft-fleshed and juicy. It feeds on lablab or benthic blue algae, diatoms and planktons and are grown only in fishponds along the inland waters of Dagupan City. Each Bonuan Bangus cannot weigh heavier than 250 grams because of its dependence on natural food. Meanwhile, the other kind of milkfish, which is raised only in fish pens/cages, feeds on formulated feeds. It can be distinguished from the Bonuan Bangus with its long arched belly and long tail.

Dagupan’s milkfish production are either traded in their fresh form or in their processed forms. Dagupan’s fresh milkfish, based from the Marketing Study conducted by the City Government of Dagupan in 2002, were distributed to the following:  Dagupan whole salers/retailers (50 percent); Manila (30 percent); Baguio City (10 percent); and Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, and other areas (10 percent).

On the other hand, processed (deboned, marinated or smoked) milkfish were traded to Metro Manila (60 percent), Baguio City (25 percent), and to the other Luzon areas (12 percent). The remaining three percent are retained in the city.

Processed milkfish are also sold abroad, specifically in California, Hawaii, and California. There are three milkfish processors in the city.  However, the main and final processing is done in Metro Manila. Thus, the volume produced by the processors from Dagupan are included in the volume of fresh milkfish destined for Metro Manila not as processed milkfish destined for export market.

The Bangus Festival. To give focus on the local milkfish industry and to promote the city as the Bangus Capital of the World, the City Government of Dagupan conceptualized the annual Bangus Festival.  

This year’s Bangus Festival is scheduled on April 26 to May 1. The Festival will be featuring various merry-making activities like the Bangus Harvest Dance Fest (Gilon! Gilon! Ed Dalan), the 101 Ways to Cook Bangus, and the Grand Creative Float Parade (Bangus ed Karosa). The Barbecue Street Party will be held on April 30 at 6 p.m. On May 1, Dagupan City will join the whole Pangasinan in celebrating the Pista’y Dayat Festival. Activities prepared by the city include the Bangus Rodeo and Palaro sa Dagat.

The city is now the record holder of the World’s Longest Barbecue as certified by the Guiness World Records. Measuring 1,007.56 meters (3,305.64ft), the longest barbecue grill was composed of 10,000 pieces of milkfish placed simultaneously on 1,000 units of grills measuring one meter long each. The record-setter Barbecue Street Party in Dagupan (Kalutan ed Dagupan) was conducted in May 3, 2003 as part of the Bangus Festival.


2001-2003 Bangus Production Report, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, Pangasinan
Brochure on Pangasinan, Department of Tourism, Regional Office I
2003 Masterlist of Fishpond Operators, Office of the City Agriculturist, Dagupan City
2003 Socio Economic Profile, Dagupan City
2002 Facts and Figures, Dagupan City

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