GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 February) – Police have raised the security alert in the entire city in preparation for the city’s upcoming week-long 73rd foundation anniversary celebration and 16th Kalilangan Festival.
Senior Supt. Cedric Train, city police director, said Tuesday they deployed additional personnel at the oval plaza and other public places in the city as part of their security plan for the festivities, which would formally start on Feb. 21 and end on Feb. 27.
Aside from the tightened security measures, Train said they have intensified their intelligence monitoring against possible plans by local terror and criminal groups to disrupt the upcoming celebrations.
“We have assigned around 200 police personnel to secure the oval plaza grounds and other festival venues,” the police official said.
He said their deployment would be augmented by elements from the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan, Police Regional Office 12’s regional public safety battalion and barangay peacekeeping action teams.
Train said they have coordinated with officials of the Mindanao State University-General Santos, which is the organizer of this year’s celebration, to ensure the proper implementation of their prepared security plan in all festival activities.
He said they have made some adjustments with last year’s security measures due to some changes in this year’s lined up activities.
Among them is the holding of the “Kalilangan sa Barangay” in some barangay centers as part of the highlights of this year’s festivities, he said.
This year’s festivities will focus on the theme: “Convergence in Divergence: Enriching Heritage, Bridging Cultures.”
MSU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mary Lynn Abiera, Kalilangan festival director, said this year’s celebration will highlight the convergence of the tri-people – Christians, Lumads or Indigenous Peoples, and Muslims – who have lived in co-existence with one another since the first settlement in the area was established seven decades ago.
“It will showcase the city’s rich heritage and culture and also serve as a venue for fostering mutual respect for our diverse beliefs and values,” she said.
Among the highlights of this year’s festivities are the Kalilangan night market, farmers’ day, rodeo competition, agri fair, traditional houses exhibit, snake and fish show, cook fest of indigenous products, history forum, cosplay featuring Pinoy characters, Kulintangan-Pangalay showcase and Kadsagayan street dancing competition.
Organizers also lined up nightly shows at the oval plaza, concerts, sports competitions, theatrical shows, workshops, among others. Last week, the Kalilangan bazaar, carnival, mini zoo, and food stalls at the oval plaza grounds initially opened to jumpstart the pre-festival activities. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)