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Feature: Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan now world's corn capital

Sto. Tomas (9 July) -- "We dreamed. We dared and work hard to achieve our goal. And now we would like to officially announce to you that we made it."

This was the statement of Sto. Tomas Mayor Vivien Villar at a news conference where she presented the certificate attesting the 'Longest Barbecue' title in the Guinness World Record garnered by her town when it staged its first ever Corn Festival on February 11 this year.

Corn is a chief agriculture product of the town after rice. Farmers plant the glutinous type of white corn which is an ideal food supplement for rice.

Villar received the certificate with the Guinness seal from the London-based Guinness World Records Ltd. last Wednesday afternoon.

It read: "The longest barbecue measured 3,803.96 m (12,480 ft 2 in) and was created by Municipality of Santo Tomas (Philippines) in Santo Tomas, Pangasinan, Philippines on 11 February 2008."

An accompanying letter dated June 27, 2008 stated: "Welcome to the very select club of Guinness World Record holders."

In posting a new record the town put up a 3.8 kilometer barbecue grill from where some 3,500 official grillers cooked over 200,000 ears of newly harvested corn of the white glutinous type.

The grill, made from indigenous materials, composed of bamboo, galvanized iron sheets and chicken wire, extended from the boundary with Alcala in the west.

The barbecue event, attended by local and foreign tourists, including balikbayan, capped the 20-day festivity that marked the 100th year foundation of the town.

"We now have in our hands the proof of our victory, the sweet fruit of our hard labor after we received the certificate shipped from London by the Guinness World Records, said the mayor, who is wife of Undersecretary Antonio Villar Jr., of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG).

In announcing the feat, Villar said the title garnered by their town is a legacy that each resident of Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan and even the next generation to come should be proud of.

To celebrate the world record, Villar said her husband, Undersecretary Antonio Villar Jr., chief of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group, gifted their constituents with a new Ford ambulance marked Rescue 101.

The title garnered by Sto. Tomas erased the previous record posted earlier by Monteviedo, Uruguay at 1.4 kilometer during its "El Asado Mas Grande Del Mundo" when it celebrated its "Rural del Prado".

The old record was 1.3 kilometer posted by Hermosillo, Mexico which was only a little longer than the 1.07 kilometer record posted by Dagupan City, Philippines when it held its Bangus Festival in 2003.

"We learned so many things with this world title. First, we dream big. Next we asked God's help. Then, we set our goals, Believe you can, it was realized."

Cris Balila, municipal agriculturist, said the title just confirmed that Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan is now the corn capital of the world.

He said more than 5,000 hectares of land are being planted to glutinous white corn in the town every year starting after the rice harvesting. (PIA/PNA) [top]

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