11th T’nalak Festival opens; Asin folk singing group holds reunion concert

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/14 July) —  Thousands of  residents and tourists crowded  major streets here early Wednesday morning to celebrate the opening salvo of the five-day 44th foundation anniversary celebration of South Cotabato province and the 11th edition of its famed T’nalak Festival.

The city’s downtown area practically glittered with the colorful civic military parade that heralded the pomp and pageantry of the festivities for the next five days.

“This is a big day for all of us here. It’s time for us to show to the world our unity, our unique culture and the rich history that binds us all through these years,” said South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr.

It is Pingoy’s first T’nalak Festival as governor.

A former three-term congressman, Pingoy said this year’s celebration focuses on promoting the
province as a top cultural and eco-tourism destination as well as one of the fast-growing business and investment hubs in the country.

This year’s festival theme is “One Dynamic People; One Vibrant Spirit.”

The festival  features a regional agri-industrial trade fair, beauty pageant, musical concerts, cultural shows, sports competition and business-related seminars and conferences.

For the opening day, the provincial government of South Cotabato will host a cheer dance competition and a reunion concert of popular folk group Asin.

The concert is a tribute to the late Asin band leader Cesar “Saro” Banares, who hails from this city.

Folk artist Lolita Carbon, who is also from South Cotabato, arrived here last Monday from the United States along with another original band member Nonoy Pillora, who is now based in Israel, for the historic concert.

Another concert by acoustic artist Aiza Seguerra is scheduled on Thursday. Popular television host Marc Nelson will be hosting the Mutya ng South Cotabato pageant on Friday while boxing sensation and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao will be seeing action in a celebrity basketball game.

On July 18, the province’s 44th foundation anniversary, the local government will lead a grand T’nalak Festival parade and launch the 11th Madal Be’lan, Kadsagayan A Lalan, Kadsagayan sa Kalatagan street dancing competitions.

The provincial government has invited Senator Franklin Drilon to grace the foundation day, which will be capped by a “Disco sa Kalye” and a grand fireworks display dubbed “Luces in the Sky.”

Through the festivities, Pingoy said they want to “show to the world” that the province is a safe place to live in and invest or do business in.

“We essentially want to erase our tag as a backhoe country as a result of the unfortunate events that hounded us during the past several months,” Pingoy said.

The governor was apparently referring to the gruesome massacre in November last year  in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao of at least 58 people, including 32 journalists, some of whom were residents of the province and who had earlier covered festivities in the area.

“The festival highlights the progress and development we have achieved in the collective aspects that define the competitiveness of the province of South Cotabato. These are enhanced with the vibrancy of diverse cultures, unique destinations and a truly endearing people,” Pingoy added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)