GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 Aug) – In a bid to promote social harmony and the blending of culture and religious tolerance and appreciation in the city, a city council member here is pushing for the adoption by the local government of the Eid’l Fitr or the feast marking the end of Ramadan as part of the area’s official festivities.
City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr. filed a resolution on Tuesday seeking for the inclusion of the Islamic holiday, which is held at the end of the holy month of fasting or Ramadan, in the city’s annual celebrations or festivities.
He said such move is only proper for the city being a melting pot of various cultures in Region 12 and home to a significant Moro or Muslim population.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Studies showed that around five percent of the city’s total population, which reached 529,542 based on the 2010 census, are Muslims.
With that, Gacal said the city is constitutionally mandated not only to uplift the welfare of its constituents but also support efforts towards religious and cultural development.
“Muslim culture and festivities form part of the way of life here and as such the city government’s support is also needed,” he said.
Gacal said the adoption of Eid’l Fitr as part of the city’s official festivities will also complement with the goals of the city’s new leadership “to usher in revitalized hope towards the building of a new GenSan.”
“The role of (General Santos City) in the region as a melting pot of cultures, and a catchment area for small and medium scale business requires fostering the value of social harmony that would promote the blending of culture and religious tolerance and appreciation,” he said.
“The stature of the city is now more multicultural, socially divergent, religiously plural and increasingly becoming the commercial hub in Region 12,” he added.
Gacal said having an official Eid’l Fitr festivity in the area will eventually enhance the image of the city as well as its economic growth.
“It will place the city in the global map of one billion Muslims worldwide celebrating the Eid’l Fitr,” he said.
Through the celebration, the city may also pursue the promotion of the local halal industry by facilitating trade show for halal-accredited products and the accreditation of other local halal products and business establishments, he said.
Gacal proposed for an initial P500,000 allocation from the city government to fund the celebration of Eid’l Fitr.
He pushed for the creation of a local committee that will facilitate the conduct of the festivity.
The committee will be composed of officials and representatives of the Islamic Studies department of the Mindanao State University here that will act as its ad hoc chair, the Office of the Cultural Communities of the city government, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and other local Imams and Muslim organizations.