GenSan celebrates ‘81st Foundation Day’ sans pomp due to virus fears

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 February) – Sans the usual pomp and color, officials commemorated Thursday what they termed as the 81st Foundation Anniversary of this city, which was officially created in 1968.

A planned elaborate celebration of Kalilangan Festival which serves as a pompous vehicle to celebrate the occasion was canceled due to fears it might help spread the dreaded 2019 coronavirus disease  or Covid-19.

The celebration this year was set for Feb. 14-27, with the last day of the celebration declared a local public holiday.

City officials and residents, along with descendants of settlers who arrived in this part of Mindanao in the 1930s, offered wreaths at a monument of General Paulino Santos at Plaza Heneral Santos, where his remains are buried.

Santos, then administrator of the National Land Settlements Administrator, led settlers to Mindanao as part of a program initiated by the administration of President Manuel Quezon.

In today’s simple rites, City Mayor Ronnel Rivera led officials and guests in laying wreaths at the monument.

“Of course, we will still celebrate Kalilangan. But in another way,” Rivera earlier told reporters.

City councilor Shandee Pestano, the festival director, told MindaNews they are still celebrating Kalilangan in a simple program at the gymnasium of the Mindanao State University – College Education Training Department near the Oval Freedom Plaza.

The 2020 Kalilangan program will be aired live via social media, she said.

Other merry-making events and festivities slated at the Oval Freedom Park were cancelled.

“We are doing all these as a precaution, no major public gathering shall be held,” she said.

The cancelation of the events has frustrated and brought uncertainties to agro-trade exhibitors and carnival rides workers who said they have incurred big expenses.

John Ybanez, administrator of the JohnMer Carnival Rides, said it is impossible to recoup the huge losses they have amounting to several thousands of pesos.

He, however, said that festival organizers were able to refund them the 800-thousand pesos rent they paid for a month on a space they were supposed to occupy at the park from February 8 to March 8.

Rivera said the city will have a much bigger and grandiose Kalilangan celebration next year. (Rommel G. Rebollido/MindaNews)