Agusan Sur to celebrate Naliyagan Festival with strict health protocols

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 9 June) – After two years of hiatus due to the pandemic, the provincial government here will celebrate the week-long Naliyagan Festival 2022 from June 12 to 17 in the same grand tradition but with the strict observance of health protocols because of COVID-19.

Tribal street dance contest participants from Bayugan City during the Naliyagan Festival 2019 celebration. Unfortunately, there will be no street dancing in this year’s festivities. This winning photo was taken by ALEX CELO of Bayugan City, used with permission from the Agusan del Sur Provincial Tourism Office.

Most of the cultural, entertainment, live concerts, and sporting events will be held at the traditional venue at the vast Naliyagan Plaza grounds. Still, festival-goers must present a full vaccination card and a valid ID for counter-checking.
Gov. Santiago Cane Jr., in an interview with local media, said aside from security personnel and police forces, nurses and doctors will be deployed at the entrance gates to facilitate those who are still jabbed with only one dose and are willing to be vaccinated for the second dose for them to be allowed getting in.
He said strict measures are needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since the province is still at Alert Level 2 category as vaccination rate has still not reached 70 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity even as some towns have already surpassed it.
COVID-19 protocols, like wearing face masks and frequent washing of hands with alcohol or soap and water, are encouraged inside the festival venue.
The week-long celebration and festivities highlight the 55th founding anniversary of Agusan del Sur and the 30th anniversary of Naliyagan Festival. The festivities will start on June 12 with the celebration of 124th Philippine Independence Day and culminate on June 17, when Agusan del Sur became a regular province in 1967.
Cane said this year’s celebration would not be as grand as in the past years. For one, there will be no tribal street dancing competition, which was a crowd-drawing event in the previous festivals. There will also be no booths to showcase local products.

Taking center stage in the festival is the beauty pageant “Bae Naliyagan” with all 13 towns and its lone city sending their bets for the coveted Bae Sabuyakan and Bae Naliyagan crowns. The province has invited Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach to grace the coronation night on June 16 but is still waiting for her confirmation.
Popular bands in Manila – like Aegis, pop-rock sensations Ben&Ben, and rock bands Silent Sanctuary and Kamikaze – will perform on separate nights to entertain the public.
Cane said former palace spokesperson Harry Roque has signified his interest in attending the governance night on June 14 where he will be the guest speaker. Roque told the governor that his attendance was a way of gratitude to the voters in the province, where he placed 12th among senatorial candidates.

The governor will deliver his State-of-the-Province Address on the morning of June 17, followed by a formal oath-taking ceremony of the elected provincial officials and the two congressional representatives of the province. The famous “Binaga Festival,” the grilling of mudfish locally called “haloan” from the Agusan Marsh will be held in a long line of grill stands in the afternoon.
Other crowd-drawing events include Agusan del Sur Cave Assembly, Mano-A-Mano boxing, battle of the bands, Naliyagan Enduro Mountain Trail, Naliyagan Motocross Competition, Lawn Tennis Tournament, and Naliyagan Friendship Ride. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)