First in PH: Int’l folklore fest opens in Koronadal

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/11 August) — The entire city practically dazzled on Monday afternoon as the country’s first-ever international folkloric festival formally opened in grand fashion.

Thousands of residents and visitors crowded the city’s sidewalks and the sprawling South Cotabato Sports Complex to witness various showcases of international and local cultures through dances, songs and traditional instruments.

“This is a historic day for the city and the entire country. For the first time, our country is hosting an international folkloric festival and it is right here in our city,” said Koronadal City Mayor Peter Miguel.

The festivity, dubbed “Pyesta Kolon Datal: Koronadal International Folklore Festival,” started with a grand parade at around 3 p.m. of around 400 cultural performers coming from nine countries and seven national and regional contingents.

It was followed by the opening ceremonies that were highlighted by performances from the participating contingents as well as a spectacular musical fireworks display.

The foreign performers, who were aptly garbed in their traditional costumes, were from Slovenia, Japan, Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Poland, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka.

The other participants are the ECD Dance Company of the Philippines, PNU (Philippine Normal University) Kislap Sining Dance Troupe, Philippine Barangay Folk Dance Troupe, University of the Philippines Filipiniana Dance Troupe, Koronadal City’s Hinugyaw Cultural Dance Troupe, Zamboanga National High School Dance Troupe and the Bukidnon State University Dance Troupe.

The festival, which is slated until Aug. 18, was organized by the city government in coordination with the Paris-based Council of International Organization of Folkloric Festival (CIOFF).

CIOFF is an official partner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO and is accredited with its Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee.

Miguel said the local government pushed for the hosting of the festival as part of the year-round celebration of the city’s 75th foundation anniversary and to showcase the city’s first inhabitants — the B’laan tribe.

He emphasized that the city, which evolved from a settlement area established in January 1940, got its name from B’laan words kolon and datal, which literally means a cogonal plain.

“We’re giving tribute to our roots. They’re (B’laans) a big part of what the city has achieved through these years,” he said.

“75 years since our inception as a settlement, we’re now ready to face the world. We’re marking our birth as a settlement by giving to the world our culture and at the same time embracing the cultures of the world,” he said.

In his keynote speech at the festival’s opening ceremony, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino lauded the city government for organizing the international event.

He described the event as a model that other local government units in the country should emulate.

“At first, I was thinking that this is just an ordinary festival. But as I see it now, it’s far from the usual festivities. It’s very historic, a first in the Philippines,” he said.

He gave credit to city officials and other local stakeholders for putting in “a lot of hard work, enormous creativity and enormous inner resources to put together all of these in our presence.”

“This is a huge achievement because it places Koronadal City and the country in the international folklore history,” Tolentino said.

Meantime, various shows featuring performances from the 17 foreign and local contingents were set starting Tuesday until Aug. 18 in in the city and various parts of Region 12.

The daily shows start at 3 p.m. at the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center, Rizal Park and selected shopping malls in Koronadal City.

Selected contingents will also be holding demonstration performances and lectures in Tacurong City and Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat, General Santos City and in the municipalities of Polomolok, Tampakan, Tantangan, Surallah, Lake Sebu and Norala in South Cotabato.

The scheduled performances and other related activities are all open to the public for free. (MindaNews)