GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 July) – It’s all systems go for South Cotabato province’s 10-day 49th foundation anniversary celebration and 16th T’nalak Festival that will formally open on Thursday.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Wednesday they have completed all the necessary preparations for the festivities, which is expected to draw anew thousands of foreign and local tourists.
The festivity, which is slated until the province’s 49th foundation day on July 18, focuses on the theme: “Sharing our Best with the World.”
“We’re ready and hoping that it will be a well-attended event again as in our past celebrations,” she said in a press conference.
Fuentes said they made some innovations for this year’s festivities, which will serve as the prelude to the province’s golden anniversary celebration next year.
She said they specifically modified the conduct of some events to highlight the authenticity of the rich traditions and culture of the province’s tri-people – the lumads or indigenous peoples, Moros and Christian settlers.
Such authenticity could be seen with the dances and instruments that will be featured during the festivities, she said.
“The main selling point of the T’nalak (festival) is culture. So we will be showcasing that and show to the world how unique we are here in the province,” the governor said.
The festivity will open on Thursday with an ecumenical thanksgiving celebration that will be held at the South Cotabato Gym and Cultural Center in Koronadal City.
The event will be highlighted by a parade of lights and the ceremonial lighting of trees along Alunan Avenue in Koronadal, specifically in front of the provincial capitol compound.
It will be followed by the ceremonial opening of various events and showcases such as the Agri Fair; Bahay Kubo, and Plant and Product Display; Regional Industrial, Technology and Trade Expo; T’nalak Strip; and the T’nalak Food Garden.
The other lined up activities are the Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Friends Freedom Night; Mountain Bike Challenge, Marathon and T’nalak Fun Run; Cheerleading Competition; Musical and Pop Solo Voice Competition; Hip Hop Competition; Team Ball Competition; Awit Dula at Sayaw Competition; Mutya ng South Cotabato; and the Governor’s T’nalak Charity Ball.
The highlight of the festivities will be on July 18 with the T’nalak Festival Tri-People Grand Parade and Street Dancing Showdown of the Madal Be’ Lan, Kadsagayan A Lalan and the Kasadyahan sa Kapatagan.
To make the celebration more festive, a “Lechonan sa Kubo” will be held at lunch time, and a street party will be held at night.
A grand fireworks display will cap the festivities and signal the start of the countdown for next year’s golden anniversary celebration.
Fuentes said the festival’s formal opening will be graced by Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo and his celebrity-wife Shalani Soledad-Romulo.
She said the other government officials who have confirmed to grace the festivities are Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid, Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero will be the keynote speakers during the festival’s culmination on July 18, she added.