Every 14th of May, the people of Lemery Batangas is celebrating their very own "Tinapa Festival". They dance in the streets in celebration of the feast of the humble smoked fish called the tinapa that fed multitude of peasants and laborers. It is a a three-day affair that showcases a trade fair of agro-industrial products, lectures about livestock raising and food processing, and food demo competition.
The event is held every year to promote the local tinapa industry as well as to boost local tourism industry.
Fishing season in Lemery starts from November to May. Bountiful catch of tulingan, galunggong, tamban, dampilas, milkfish, among many others are unselfishly blessed by the sea. So abundant the harvests are that fishermen usually sell a substantial portion at very low price. With this, the local government introduced the tinapa-making business, a solution to the excess catch.
Excited the people were, the Department of Agriculture introduced the skills and proper training for the people in the coastal areas in making tinapa and assisted to start business. Right after, they aimed to create a wide market for the new industry and promotion, thus the birth of the Tinapahan Festival.
Since no town in the Philippines has claimed to be the Tinapa Capital of the Philippines, through continous effort, Lemery has earned the title. They may be the country’s producer of best tinapa.
Compared to the usual reason to celebrate a festival, as commemorating something that has been an integral to the life and culture of a place, the Tinapahan Festival is the reverse, using the festivity to incorporate the celebration to the lives and culture.
Soon, street pageant and group dancing competition were organized. On the morning of May 1, the people of Lemery has celebrated their first festival as the street pageant paraded and danced in the thoroughfares, and converged into a humble court at the back of the municipal hall.
Floats from private sectors populated the streets while contingents of the local governmnent walked in bright yellow peasant costumes.
Main part of the parade was a competition for the court dancing tilt, participated by five schools of the town. The competition began in the court where contestants made good use of any tow of the things used in making tinapa such as fish nets, bilao of fishes, baskets, and round bamboo.