Memories of a week-long fiesta

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda -
Camarinenses had a blast last week with their favorite stars as they celebrated the Kaogma Festival. Entertainers from Manila added sparkle to the week-long fiesta. Angelica Panganiban rendered a few songs during the opening day, while Camarinenses’ pride, the LRV dancers showed off their terpsichorean talents.

Aside from Angelica, Camarinenses had the chance to see in person some of their favorite stars: Marvin Agustin and Nadine Samonte hosted the Miss Camsur search which was won by 16- year-old Joycie Nocomura; Lani Mercado who looked ravishing, was one of the judges in the Hot Kids Star Quest, and Onyok Velasco provided expert insights as he annotated the boxing matches.

More than 2,000 Kaogma Festival participants cheered and welcomed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when she dropped by the Freedom Stadium for the first time as special guest of Camarines Sur’s foundation day.

The President, accompanied by Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, was loudly applauded as she arrived at the sprawling Freedom Stadium. She had just come from a speaking engagement at the 14th Southern Luzon Business Conference held at the Convention Center in Pili, after a morning trip to Albay.

The Kaogma participants, clad in colorful sili inspired costumes in flaming colors of red, green, yellow, orange, blue, silver and gold, assembled at the Freedom Stadium for the start of the grand parade to the Capitol Complex for the closing ceremony of the week-long Kaogma Festival.

Street dancers, majorettes, colorful sili floats, lyre corps, marching bands, were sights to behold as they marched from the Freedom Stadium into the activity area inside the 118 hectare Capitol complex.

The President, who was introduced to the crowd by Secretary Durano, commended the sili theme of the festival. She also directed Durano to put the Kaogma Festival in the priority list of tourism.

PGMA has already signed through RA 9031, May 27 as National Recognition Day for all Camarinenses. As such, the province has extended it into a week-long festivity. The Kaogma Festival began on May 21 with a motorcade of more than a kilometer-long assemblage of cars, trucks, motorcycles that passed through the town of Nabua, Iriga City, the town of Baao and ending at Pili, seat of the provincial government of Camarines Sur.

A makeshift stage in red-hot color stood inside the Capitol complex. Leaders from various churches in Camarines Sur led the prayer while the Rosary Learning Center Choir of Baao sang a song of praise.

Camarines Sur Gov. Lray Villafuerte, in his opening speech, said that this was the first time that the province was celebrating the festival with a theme. And for this year, it has chosen sili as the centerpiece.

Camarines Sur is now on its 426th year since its founding by Spanish explorers Captains Luis Enriquez de Guzman, Martin de Goite and Andres de Ibarra. The good governor has envisioned Kaogma Festival to be the hottest, most passionate festival in the world. Camarinenses, he said, are known for their hot and fiery cuisine and as such, it is connected to the passionate behavior of the people and their youthful and vibrant spirit.

Camarines Sur also awarded its "Hot Shot" individuals who have made an impact in their chosen fields of endeavor. The list of Hot Shots include Gus Albor, Pancho Piano, Raoul Alcomendas, Danilo Gerona and Luis Cabalquinto in the field of arts and culture; Sharmaine Buencamino and Rez Cortez in entertainment; Sec. Emilia Boncodin, Shulan Primavera, Bienvenido Abante Jr., Cesar Chavez and lawyer Ted Cruz in government; Conrado de Quiroz in media; Ariel Alvarez in fashion; Johanna Sabando in beauty pageants and Rolando Canlas in sports.

Aside from the grand parade, which capped the week-long Kaogma Festival, street parties and performances from Parokya ni Edgar, REtroSPECT, KC Montero and Ella V awaited Camarinenses. Weary but happy, Camarinenses were also treated to free softdrinks and food located in booths and stalls inside the Capitol complex.

Congratulations to Gov. Lray Villafuerte for a job well done. May you have more festivals to come. As you would say, Dios mabalos sa indo gabos!

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