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Come and visit the vibrant, liveable Corn Capital of the Philippines

Land travel to the Queen Province of the North may take a whole day trip or more but it is always worth it. It was my fourth visit to Isabela and my second for the City of Ilagan, the capital city. 

Every time our group of Manila media travels in this Queen province (named after Queen Isabela II of Spain in 1856), various development and infrastructure projects are evident with new roads and bridges being built while tourism sites being improved especially in Ilagan.

With a vast 33,500 hectares of production areas for corn (which were already harvested when the Manila media group of 20 arrived for the recent Mammangi Festival 2024), we can’t help but be amazed how the city government defied the onslaught of the El Nino and makes remarkable progress on the side. 

And there’s more.

Multi-billion development projects await the City of Ilagan as its forward-looking top executive who has earned the moniker,The Working Mayor, in the person of Dr. Josemarie Diaz, was busy meeting investors even during the festival.

Founded in1686 and proclaimed the capital town of the Province of Isabela in 1856, Ilagan has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. And overcoming the struggles as a municipality, Ilagan gained its cityhood in 2012 prompting the city government to work on plans furthering the improvement and development of the city.

Today, the City of Ilagan is considered one of the most viable sites for industry development in the country with the presence of road facilities and domestic airports in neighboring cities. Proof of this is the mushrooming of manufacturing firms such as Coca-cola Beverages Philippines, Sagittarian Agricultural Phils., Inc., Mr. Moo's Dairy Product Corporation, and Valley Sunrise Consumer Goods Trading, among many others.


Mammangi Festival 2024: Liveable City of Ilagan 2030: Isinasapuso Ng Bawat Ilagueño,

The Mammangi Festival is a much-anticipated occasion in the City of Ilagan which started in 2011. It is a testament to the rich agricultural heritage of the area, which is renowned for its exceptional corn production. The festival serves as a platform to celebrate the city’s agricultural excellence, culture, and the unity of its people.

An Ibanag term, the event pays tribute to the ‘mammangi’ (the local farmers) who tirelessly cultivate the land and produce high-quality corn, making Ilagan a significant contributor to the country’s agricultural sector.

The festival’s grand comeback took place in 2023 after the pandemic. And this year's celebration was set to continue the vision for a liveable city with every Ilagueño upholding the sense of pride and love of the City of Ilagan.

The grand festivity happened on April 26-May 11, 2024, and was aptly themed: Liveable City of Ilagan 2030: Isinasapuso Ng Bawat Ilagueño. The joyous event enjoined every Ilagueño to continue to contribute to the attainment of the city’s objectives thereby committing to the accomplishment of the socio-economic, cultural and good governance goals of the 2030 Vision of the Liveable City of Ilagan.

City-wide activities included the much-awaited Tienda Ilagan, Tour of Agri-Ecotourism Village, Cultural Olympics, Binibining Ilagan Grand Finals and Coronation Night, Liga ng mga Barangay Night with the awarding of barangay achievements, Festival Street Dance and Showdown Competitions and the Gawad Ilagueño and Grand Concert.


Multi-billion development projects

Over a billion pesos worth of renewable energy, manufacturing, and cold chain industry projects have been lined up for Ilagan, aligned with the city's, battle cry, the Liveable City of Ilagan 2030.

During the media conference, Mayor Diaz said Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group Company, Ltd., is pouring in more than P1.8 billion worth of investments for its huge animal feed milling facility in the city.

The animal feed is another milestone project. Last year, for Mammangi 2023, Ilagan held the groundbreaking ceremony for the I-Corn Complex which is the country’s first, with processing and postharvest facilities for feeds and food to ensure the quality of corn-based goods. The structure will provide comprehensive aid to local maize growers in Ilagan, Isabela, and surrounding provinces in Region 2. The construction is in full swing. 

Diaz also revealed that Igloo Supply Chain Philippines, Inc. has already entered an agreement with the Ilagan City government to invest in the construction of cold chain facilities here.

The agreement was sealed on May 4 in commemoration of the 338th Aggaw na Ilagan (or founding anniversary of Ilagan). “The construction will start, as soon as possible. This is important so we can preserve the produce of our farmers and prevent spoilage," Diaz said.

Aside from manufacturing, the City of Ilagan is preparing for the commencement of operation of a 440-megawatt (MW) solar farm, expected to boost the country's renewable energy thrust and estimated by Diaz to provide 5,000 jobs for Ilagueños and Isabela workforce.


Saving the corn, helping the farmers

The City of Ilagan is known to be the largest producer of yellow corn that is being used for animal feeds, for an average production of quality corn of 200,000 metric tons per year.

Officers from the city government said they were lucky to anticipate the ill effects of the El Niño phenomenon, stating that only a minimal number of their farmers were affected by the wrath of the dry season.

"From November to December, we anticipated the El Niño phenomenon as our farmers had planted corn and rice from November up until December 2023. After four months of the planting season, our farmers have already harvested the crops before the onset of El Niño," said Ilagan City Public Information Officer Pastor Paul Bacungan during a media briefing.

Meanwhile, Coun. Antonio Jun Montereal Jr. said that although a small number of farmers were hit by the rise of the temperature, the LGU continues to provide subsidies to farmers such as the distribution of seeds and financial assistance to those affected farmers.

The City of Ilagan also produces high-value commercial crops such as vegetables, fruits, and cassava.

"Agricultural facilities provided by the city government such as innovation centers, irrigation facilities, and postharvest facilities, agricultural machinery such as harvesters, tractors and transplanters and annual provision of seeds and fertilizers for farmers contributed to production of quality crops," according to Bacungan.

No wonder, one of the salient features of Mammangi Festival 2024 was the awarding of monetary benefits for the farmers and scholarship grants for their children. On May 5, tobacco farmers were handed down cash benefits while the Academic Excellence Scholarship (ACES) scholars, mostly the farmers’ children studying outside of Ilagan, were also given their stipend. A total amount of P4,415,000.00 of scholarship were handed to 303 Scholars while P6,400,000.00 subsidy was given to all of 647 farmers across the city. 

Fun events from the LGU to the Ilagueños – including grand concerts featuring Manila’s finest artists – took place during the festival to the delight of every true blue bloodied Ilagueño.

Indeed, Mammangi Festival serves as a joyous occasion, a heartfelt thanksgiving to God for the abundant harvests and the city's achievements and accolades.

Congratulations, the City of Ilagan! See you again in 2025.


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